That’s a wrap! another mountain race season is in the books. Let’s take a look back on this past season and look what the team accomplished.
Nik Nestoroff headed up to this year’s rendition of the Sea Otter Classic to leave his mark on the Dual Slalom race. Nik gave it his all and was able to put himself on the podium at the end of the day with his third place finish.
Downhill National round 2 is one of the most premier races of the season and who would be taking the top steps? The team would be flying out to New Jersey for one of the most decorated Downhill events of the season hosted by Mountain Creek Bike Park located in Vernon, New Jersey. This mountain has hosted some of the best athletes in the world from Steve Smith to Sam Hill dating back to the mid 90’s. It’s always great to see the young talented athletes coming up through the ranks racing the same tracks as legendary athletes did in the past.
Track walk got underway on Thursday with a short, but always explosive track created by the best mountain bikers to the likes of Lars Tribune and George Ryan and the entire mountain creek bike park. The weather in store was unusually dry for this type of area which would play in favor for some of the West Coast athletes attending this race. The track would consist of lots of rocks, steep sections and jumps. Overall full demanding track from top to bottom.
All the athletes were very excited to get up on the track and start training for Friday’s official practice day with only a four-hour block to gather lines, set up bikes and initially memorize the track from A to B and everything in between. Kailey Skelton would be under the weather with a cold and would only be doing minimal practice and trying to save her energy. Steven Walton and Nik Nestoroff were both feeling the flow in day one practice session. They both had great days up on the hill and were fine tuning themselves and their machines for Saturday’s qualification.
Some of the best athletes in America would be attending. Riders such as Neko Mullally, Aaron Gwin and others all chasing for the top spot. Qualification would fire off for all three athletes with a consistent dry track. It would be Kailey Skelton who would qualify second with a very mellow run, who was still under the weather and not feeling 100%. Nik Nestoroff would qualify third only three seconds behind the top spot and Steven Walton would qualify in a solid fourth place. All the athletes took their knowledge from qualification and would bring it into Sunday’s final event.
Finals would be firing off roughly at 2PM Eastern standard time. All the hard work, dedication and multiple practice runs would come down to one single run for each athlete. Kailey Skelton would still be under feeling the effects of Her cold and would really have to dig deep and mentally prepare herself for her final run. She pushed as hard as possible to come out with the win five seconds up on her competition and would be leading the national series going into the final round come September! It would be Nik Nestoroff with consistency that would continue his third-place seating run and manage to grab a great result with a third place overall. Steven Walton would unfortunately have a mechanical issue midway through his race run with losing his chain but would still manage a great result in seventh place. Overall Nik and Steven would still be going into the final national series in the top three positions.
Overall it was a great weekend for KHS Pro MTB with both categories of Downhill on the podium and everyone was healthy going into the future races. With Kailey and Nik getting selected for World Championships to represent team USA over in Italy their sights would be set on going back overseas for one of the biggest races in the world to represent us all at the top stage. Before they can go overseas, they will be heading out to Winter Park, Colorado for the third round of the Big Mountain Enduro series. Nik is sitting in a top-five position overall with two more rounds to go.
As always, the team would like to continue to thank all their fans, family and sponsors who make all these dreams come true. It’s a team effort with mechanics behind the scenes doing the hard job and management providing the overall logistics to make it all a well-rounded program. The team is in the heat of the season and will be pushing hard till the end!
What a mega weekend of racing for the team this past weekend. We had all factory riders and most of our grassroots athletes all competing in different regions all on the same weekend.
Starting off with factory rider Luke Whitlock and newest member to the grassroots program Dylan Cobern were both in Cedar City, UT at a mountain bike festival throwing down some big tricks and representing our freeride side of things at the highest level. Here’s what Luke Whitlock had to say “A music festival would be the last place you’d expect a mountain bike jam to come about, but that was not the case in Cedar City, UT at the Landslide Music Fest this past weekend.
With expected crowds of upwards of 5000 people Dylan Cobern and I headed up north to Cedar City to put on a show for the people attending the event. While dealing with the crazy weather that Southern Utah has to offer this time of year, we were still able to throw down some solid tricks and whips for the crowd in between rainstorms. This event was unique and special to us because we were able to reach a completely different industry and group of people and introduce them to freeride mountain biking, which is really awesome and rewarding to see, especially since the spectators were very engaged!”
Also, our other grassroots athlete Naish Ulmer was representing the team in the Utah/Idaho regional event coming away with double wins. Here’s what Naish had to say: “I raced the 2nd & 3rd stop of the Utah Gravity series in Pomerelle, ID. There was a double header race happening over the weekend and I was able to take both wins. I was super pumped to stay consistent and get the win for the team!”
While the freeride lads were holding in down for the team it was Steven Walton who was representing the team at the Strait Acres Dual slalom event happening in Big Bear California. This event had some of the best American athletes competing for one of the best Spector races of the year! Qualifying was on Friday evening with Saturday evening being set for the finals. Steven would be going head-to-head to make it to the top spot. At the end of the evening, he would place a respectable top 20th finish.
Sunday would be hosting the Pro men’s downhill race with some tough competition, basically all the top athletes competing in the Slalom race would be switching over to DH for Sunday. Steven would be racing the notorious famous DH track of Miracle Mile. This track has had some of the best DH riders from all the way back from the 80’s. Steven would give it 100% and cross the line in 2nd place!
All the way up in the Montana mountains you would find Nik Nestoroff and Kailey Skelton holding it down at the 3rd round of the Northwest Cup series! Nik and Kailey would be on the 4th consecutive race in a row keeping the focus sharp and race craft even sharper. This event brings some of the fastest racers from all around the West and Central areas. The athletes were really impressed with the track lay out and conditions they would be dealing with over the 3-day event. They would both be qualifying Saturday and racing finals Sunday. Qualifying would bring only the best results with both athletes taking the top spots. It would increase their pressure to lay it back down on Sunday’s finals and maintain the lead. Nik & Kailey would do just that and not let anything stray them from the wins! They would both have dominating race runs with 7-9 seconds leads on the completion.
The team did very well overall this past weekend with getting 3 podium positions and setting themselves up to continue their success on the National round 2 in Vernon, NJ at the famous Mountain Creek bike park. All the racers will be flying out Tuesday and preparing for Sunday’s finals. Kailey is currently sitting in 2nd place overall in the women’s Downhill National series. Steven in 4th and Nik in 5th for the men’s Nationals overall. The team will be reporting soon from New Jersey woods!
Big Sky Montana, Round 2 of the Big Mountain Enduro Series brought some of the best Enduro racers from the world (Richie Rude, Cody Kelley). The racers would have to ride 8 grueling stages throughout the Montana Mountains. They would be climbing over 5,500ft day 1 and 1,500ft day 2. The 8 different tracks were unique with all different types of conditions. From steep shoots, rock gardens, and natural fresh cut sections the 8 stages truly brought everything to the table condition wise.
Day 1 would start out with the first 4 stages; stage 1 was one of the longer and more physical tracks. Nik Nestoroff would drop into stage 1 and end up 14th place. Kailey Skelton would unfortunately have a massive crash in her stage 1 run and suffering a mild concussion which would force her to pull out of the remainder of the race and completely. Nik Nestoroff would carry on to stage 2 with the climb being difficult 1,200ft climb at a high altitude. After stage 2 he would pull some time back and move himself into 12th place going into stage 3. Stage 3 and 4 were also very physical tracks with times being over 5 minutes long. Nik’s consistency with during the day 1 stages would place him in 9th place going into Sunday’s day 2 stages.
Day 2 would be an exciting day for Nik with the tracks being more downhill oriented. He would fire off his first stage of the day with 7th place. Only 3 stages left, and Nik was really giving it his all to pull back time. Stage 6 would also be a great stage for him with a 4th place finish, and only 2 stages. All of the racers were really feeling the physicality on top of the long endurance days. Nik would go into stage 7 with a 5th place finish. The final stage would be the highlight of Nik’s weekend with a 2nd place stage finish. This was impressive as it was the most challenging and technical stage of the event. With all the times combined Nik would complete the race with an impressive 8th place overall.
Nik stated “It was a very successful weekend of learning more about Enduro Racing. You have to keep consistent and it’s a fine line of pushing too hard or not enough.”
The team’s next stop will be Nik and Kailey in Whitefish, ID for a Northwest Downhill Cup Race, and Steven Walton will be competing in the Strait Acres Slalom Race in Big Bear, CA. The following weekend August 3-8 the team will all be meeting up in Mountain Creek, NJ for round 2 of the National Downhill GRT Series.