Georgia Gould (Luna) won the elite women's short track title at the US Mountain Bike National Championships at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon. It was her second title of the day after she picked up the super D victory in the morning.
"It was a good day," said Gould, "and this short track race was close - down to the last lap!"
Making reference to a challenging season in 2013, Gould said, "Obviously, winning the national championships is a huge goal of the season, but more than anything, it feels good to feel good. It feels good to feel confident and aggressive and not just be hanging on."
With each of the three major teams having two star riders, the women's race turned out to be more tactically complex than usual.
Last year's short track winner Lea Davison (Specialized) said, "It was exciting with three teams up there - Luna, Backcountry.com and Specialized. It became a race full of tactics."
Kate Courtney (Specialized) set a fast pace from the start, and she was closely followed by Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com), Davison, Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna), Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) and Gould.
For the first half of the race, Courtney, Woodruff and Dong took turns leading the favorites as some riders began to fall off the pace.
Dong surged on lap 5 but could not establish a gap, then on lap 6, Gould and Davison got a slight gap, however, they, too, were caught.
"I saw that gaps were opening a little bit so I made it hard," said Gould.
On the seventh lap, there was a significant regrouping with 10 riders coming back together. Sensing the potential for things to go wrong with so many at the front, Gould attacked on the second climb on lap 7 and took Woodruff with her. Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) couldn't hang on their pace and a slight gap opened. Davison, sensed danger with just two laps to go, and went around Huck but it was too late to catch Gould and Woodruff.
Gould said, "I've gotten out-smarted by Chloe and others so many times. She's really good at timing attacks and putting real attacks, not just half-ass attacks. The last few years, I've gotten caught pulling people around and then they outsprint me at the end. This year, I was trying to ride a smart race. I wanted to stay toward the front, but not just tow everyone around. I didn't want to leave it until the very last lap."
Davison said, "I was expecting them to call three to go and I came through and was a little off the pace when they called two to go instead. I was like 'uh oh, this isn't good". It was my bad - my positioning wasn't the best at the crucial time. Georgia and Chloe were so strong."
With one to go, it was clear that Gould or Woodruff would win. Woodruff was the first to attack on the final lap, but Gould held on and then countered on the second climb.
"When I was on her wheel, I realized I had one good effort in me," said Woodruff, who was feeling under the weather all weekend. "Georgia can sustain a pace which has me barely able to hang on. When I went, I didn't have enough. I didn't get any separation and was just right there. She was able to counter on one of the last uphills before the technical woods section and at that point, I was gassed and couldn't hang on her wheel. It was well played by Georgia."
"I passed her on the very last climb on the last lap - it's the last place to pass," said Gould, whose only other short track national title was won in 2009 in Colorado.
Davison rode in for a third place finish. "I felt pretty good. I felt solid - better than the Missoula short track. I had some pretty good legs out there," she said.
The women were very complimentary about the short track's course at Bear Creek Resort.
"It's a great course. It lends itself well to attacks and there is a technical element," said Woodruff.
Huck finished fourth while Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) rounded out the top five. Both McConneloug and Gould celebrated their third podium of the weekend with Gould having two firsts and a second place and McConneloug earning three fifth places.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)||0:26:13|
|2||Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com)||0:00:08|
|3||Lea Davison (Specialized Factory)||0:00:20|
|4||Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes-Vcgraphix)||0:00:21|
|5||Mary Mcconneloug (Team Kenda/Stan's Notubes)||0:00:28|
|6||Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team)||0:00:39|
|8||Crystal Anthony (Mountain Bike)||0:00:52|
|9||Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)||0:00:57|
|14||Erica Tingey (Team Jamis)||0:02:45|
|-2 laps||Hannah Finchamp (Team Luna Chix)|
|-2 laps||Nina Baum|
|-2 laps||Jena Greaser|
|-2 laps||Erica Zaveta (Team Redline)|
|-6 laps||Kaylee Blevins (Bear Development Team)|
|-5 laps||Sarah Kaufmann (Stans Notubes Womens)|