The 2023 USA National Championships was hosted this past weekend at the new Ride Rock Venue located in the amazing mountains of North Carolina. The week’s weather would be a drastic roller coaster ride from dry to wet conditions ever changing. We had the best athletes from America competing for the top spots in multiple categories. It would be Nathan Kitchen who would be competing in Jr. Pro DH and Slalom, Kailey Skelton would be backing up 2021 – 2022 DH National titles and Steven Walton would be holding it down for the Pro men’s DH category. Friday’s DS was a mudder to start to finish. Rain soaked the track and the riders early in the day pushing back the start of racing a few hours. Hats off to the track crew who absolutely worked a miracle to get the rain rutted track in shape for seeding and finals.
The day would end with Nathan winning his 1st DS National Championship! Sunday’s downhill track recovered from the heavy rains of Saturday and racing finish times dropped! Saturday would be a full day of qualifying for all team members with very wet track conditions. Everyone would have solid qualifying runs with everyone’s mind on Sunday’s finals and weather looking completely different. Sunday would bring high pressure for everyone gunning for the top spots. It would be Nathan Kitchen who would improve his qualifying run and get back on the podium in 3rd. Kailey Skelton would push hard as possible but unfortunately just fall short into 2nd place and Steven Walton would maintain a top 30 run with a flat tire. Overall, all the team did very well in the near impossible rain conditions. Huge thanks to all our sponsors, friends and family who keep us on the top steps. See everyone next weekend for round 4 of the Big Mountain Enduro series hosted in Brian Head Utah.
This year was a change of pace with a new location on the east coast. The venue, track and weather were also something to adapt to. With extreme humidity, heat and unpredictable rain storms it was a difficult time staying comfortably during practice and racing. The track was a challenge in itself as it was different from anything we’ve ridden before. Most of the track was all man made and most obstacles were very unnatural. Overall, the track was a daily challenge with rain storms occurring every day.
Practice was Patience and more patience. I didn’t find pace till my seeding run. I felt good in seeding with one large mistake putting me further back than I intended. I knew I needed to step it up come race day. I struggled a bit mentally trusting my skills on this track. Race run- I rode some sections perfectly and some like a wimp, as I over braked when I knew I should not have in my race run. This put me in 2nd place, unfortunately not being able to hold onto my 2-year national title! Although I wasn’t able to put down a winning run it was a great experience adapting to a new location and track. This makes me so hungry and eager to push for the next one! Thank you, KHS, my team, and mechanic, for all of the expert work and support. Onto the next!
-Kailey Skelton – Pro Athlete