18 Americans collected two titles and five medals for their country at the World Championships last weekend in Fort William, Scotland.
Georgia Gould, Adam Craig, Ethan Gilmour and Sam Schultz opened the competition with a bronze medal performance in the team relay. It was the first-ever medal for the Americans in the team relay. Successfully defending champion Switzerland and Poland occupied the top and second steps of the podium.
The 4X was where the US really shined as Jill Kintner and Brian Lopes won the women's and men's titles, and Melissa Buhl took a bronze medal, taking a total three of six possible medals in the discipline. Kintner and Lopes served up a replay of the 2005 world championships with their wins.
Lopes survived a crash in the finals to take his win ahead of France's Romain Saladini and the Netherlands' Jurg Meijer. "Leading up to the semifinals I had pretty good gates and led pretty much from start to finish in each round," Lopes explained. "Unfortunately in my semi I came out of my pedal on the second stroke straight-away, and when that happens you pretty much fall off the pace real quick. I was pretty bummed out as soon as it happened, but I got my foot back in, grabbed a gear and just started pedaling. Thank God they added a little bit of length to the course because if it was a 20-second course it wouldn't have played out too well for me."
Kintner, who was riding a two year winning streak, defeated Anneke Beerten (Netherlands), Buhl and Jana Horakova (Czech Republic) to earn her third consecutive rainbow jersey. Like Lopes in the men's contest, Kintner looked unbeatable all evening and jumped out to an early lead in the final once the gate dropped. Almost immediately after the start, Buhl and the top-seeded Horakova crashed, leaving Kintner to hold off only Beerten for the win. Of the two downed riders, Buhl was the quickest to recover before descending down the course to claim the bronze medal.
"The length they added (from the previous World Cups) was great - it was tricky with the sandy dirt," said Kintner. "There weren't a lot of options, so the start was critical, you had to get out of the gate first or second. This was a bit weaker course than Rotorua (New Zealand, site of last year's Worlds), because there weren't enough passing options."
John Swanguen gave the US its fifth and final medal of the week with a second-place finish in the junior men's downhill competition. Swanguen captured the silver medal after descending 2.8 kilometers down Aonach Mor, the ninth-highest peak in the United Kingdom, just 2.07 seconds off the pace of gold medalist and British racer Ruaridh Cunningham and half a second ahead of bronze medalist Matthew Scoles of New Zealand. Swanguen's medal was the first American downhill medal since 2004 when Kyle Strait won the junior men's bronze in Les Gets, France.