The Eastern Conference wrapped up its 2011 MTB season with host
University of Vermont putting on XC and DS at Catamount Outdoor Family
Center outside Burlington, VT, and STXC, Team Relay, and DH at Burke
Mountain in the Kingdom Trails. Over the past several years Catamount
has become one of the marquee XC and DS venues on the ECCC circuit,
and riders were again treated this year to amazing courses, with a
heaping dash of mud and rain thrown in for extra fun. The STXC and DH
were the first races ever held in the Kingdom Trails, routinely cited
as one of the premier mountain biking destinations in North America.
Many ECCC riders opted to cap off an excellent day of racing with more
riding in the 100+ miles of beautiful singletrack within the system.
In women’s racing, Syd Schulz (Middlebury) struggled through the thick
Vermont mud to claim the XC victory in a draining two hour slog. Short
track featured an extremely intense Women’s A race, with Marie Kenney
(UVM) and Bella Oleksy (UNH) battling back and forth throughout, with
Marie crashing in the final corner but capitalizing on a chain hiccup
on Bella’s bike to just barely recover for the win. However, by
keeping Marie close, Bella cemented her XC standings and took home the
season endurance title jersey.
Women’s gravity featured a large number of riders, particularly for
the extremely wild Dual Slalom held in rapidly alternating
thunderstorms and sunshine. From the talented field of gravity
racers, Sarah Konefal (McGill) prevailed through the mud and storms to
take the DS victory home, and then turned around with a completely
different victory on the fast, fitness oriented Downhill course.
Throughout the weekend, Boston College rider Alison Crocker continued
her steady, season-long campaign, placing consistently in each of the
gravity and endurance events and locking up both the gravity and
season omnium jerseys.
Men’s racing came into the weekend ready to rock, with several season
championship jerseys hotly contested. With a number of elite current
ECCC, alumni, and high school riders in the field, the front end of
the XC race stormed the thick sludge throughout the Catamount course,
with alumni and high school riders Chris Hamlin (UVM) and Tyler
Berliner (Mount Mansfield) riding away from third place and collegiate
winner Tom Sampson (Plymouth State). The true action though was in
6th and 7th place, where Jesus Martinez (Columbia) battled mud and
mechanicals throughout to beat Derek Harnden (UVM) by a mere 20
seconds over a 2.5 hour race, conserving critical points in the race
for the season endurance title. The duo repeated again on Sunday,
with alumnus Chris Hamlin (UVM) again setting an unmatched pace while
Jesus Martinez (Columbia) rode furiously to overcome early mechanical
problems and charge back up to Derek Harnden (UVM). With a strong
kick on the steep finishing stretch, Derek held on for the collegiate
STXC win but did not claim enough points back from Jesus, who
preserved his season endurance title.
Meanwhile, in men’s gravity, Nik Patalano (Northeastern) came into the
weekend supercharged to attempt an overthrow of new season gravity and
omnium leader Alex McAndrew (Clarkson). It was not to be, however, as
the two met in the dramatic final round of the Dual Slalom and Alex
edged Nik at the line for the win and cemented his points lead. Alex
then continued his dominating streak by winning yet another ECCC
Downhill on Sunday, by over 6 seconds. He thus claimed both the
gravity and season omnium titles, making him the first ECCC gravity
rider of several that have come close to break through and win the
omnium title purely on commanding gravity results.
Full results and photo links from all weekends this season as well as
final team and individual standings are available on the ECCC calendar
Congratulations to all of our winners, and on to cyclocross!