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!