By Dave McElwaine in Park City, Utah
Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB), a frequent visitor to the second step on the podium, finally beat out her powerful Luna team-mates to win her first National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) cross country race in Deer Valley, Utah. Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB) rode in third position for much of the race, but nailed down second place with a massive surge on the last lap.
"I've been riding well," said Nash. "I just tried to be patient. I was climbing well and it just all came together. It was a good day.
"Catherine let me take the lead on a downhill and she made a small mistake [behind me]," she added. "From that point on I just tried not to make any mistakes."
Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB) led for much of the race, but finished third after over-shooting a corner on a fast descent. The Luna Women are the top ranked women's team in the world, due to strong World Cup performances this season.
"On the climb after the feed zone it started breaking up and Katerina and I were rolling off the front," said Pendrel. "I was feeling good so I went to the front on the climb and was going to let Katerina lead on the descent because she was descending better than me.
"I actually made a mistake on the descent," she added. "I was hoping to put in a strong last lap but Georgia put in a stronger last lap."
Many of the racers, including the Luna squad, traveled back from the World Championships in Italy this week. It was uncertain how everyone would respond to racing so soon. The question was answered in the few seconds of the race as Pendrel and Gould shot to the front and led the entire field up the mountain in a side-by-side effort.
For Nash, the Czech National Champion, the victory was sweet after some disappointment this season. At the NMBS race in Fountain Hills she sustained a knee injury that resulted in her narrowly missing out on a chance to represent her country at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China this August.
With her win, Nash maintained her lead in the NMBS cross country series. She also won the short track the following day. The next round heads to Windham Mountain in New York on July 12-13 for the only East Coast stop for the series in 2008.