Hannah tops Gwin in dual slalom

Friends, training partners end up in final together

Mick Hannah defeated Aaron Gwin to take the win in the men's dual slalom on Saturday evening at the Sea Otter Classic. The two squared off in the final, racing neck-in-neck for both runs. The consolation round was a battle of the Jareds, with Jared Rando coming out ahead of four cross World Champion Jared Graves.

"That was a perfect run," said Hannah of his final run, which won him the race. "I had good legs for the bottom, so I tried to make sure I hit the last turn just right."

The start list was overflowing with World Cup downhill and four cross contenders and with such tough competition, it was anyone's guess who would walk away at the end of the evening with the stuffed otter awarded to the winner.

One of the favorites, Brian Lopes was eliminated after a crash in an early round. Neko Mulally, Greg Minnaar and Mitch Ropelato were some of the other big names who made it into the quarter finals, but did not advance to the semis. Downhill World Champion Steve Peat was knocked out in an earlier round by his teammate Minnaar.

Semi-finals

In the semis, Gwin faced Rando, who crashed not long after the start of their first run. Then Gwin backed up his ride by taking the second run, too. Hannah defeated Graves, with each of them taking a run though the former had the best cumulative time when the dust settled.

"I just washed out a little in the first round against Aaron," said Rando. "I crash every year here without fail, so it was good that it didn't happen until later in the rounds this year."

Finals

In the finals, Rando and Graves faced off for third and fourth. Graves crashed in the first run, but it pulled it together to take the second run though not by enough for the third spot.

In the race for the top position, Gwin and Hannah did battle, with Hannah taking the first run by 0.091 seconds and Gwin winning the second heat to give him a winning margin of 0.05 seconds. The two were well matched throughout both runs, trading leads at a few points as they dashed down the grassy hillside in front of a large crowd of spectators.

"Aaron and I train together back in Colorado and we have been progressing at a similar rate lately," said Hannah after taking what was his third Sea Otter dual slalom win. "I was stoked we were in the final together."

"Mick and I are really good friends off the track, and I couldn't think of a better situation than we ended up together," said Gwin. "It was a lot of fun." Gwin said that Sea Otter is pretty much his only dual slalom for the year, but that he'd enjoy doing more. "It's a bit of a dying thing, but I hope it comes back some."

"The tracks are different than in Sea Otters past," said racer Mike Haderer after being eliminated. "It's more old school with changes this year to the top and the bottom of the course." He commented that racers faced a strong wind up at the top at the first turn, a place where many of the crashes happened during the eliminations.

Rando noted that the track improved throughout the evening as the course dried out more with each round. "Yeah, the race was just as much fun as I expected. We were all joking riding up in the truck together - all stoked to be racing."

"I made a few mistakes against Mick in the semi and that was it for me," said Graves, who was in his first dual slalom since the 2007 Sea Otter. "Then I crashed in a round against Rando, so my last two rounds weren't so great. I prefer four cross and that's what my training is based around, with its contact and more tactics, but it's all good fun."

Tara Llanes offered co-commentary throughout the race, holding live interviews of the racers after each round.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mick Hannah (GT Bicycles)  
2Aaron Gwin (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Team)  
3Jared Rando (Giant Factory Team)  
4Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Team)  
5Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)  
6Kyle Strait  
7Mitch Ropelato  
8Neko Mulally (Trek World Racing)  
9Dan Atherton (Commencal)  
10Chris Kovarik (Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense)  
11Brendan Fairclough  
12Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)  
13Andrew Neethling (Trek World Racing)  
14Mike Haderer  
15Kamil Tatarkovic (Scott FDF Team)  
16Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate)  
17Lopes Brian (Oakley/Ibis)  
18Bryn Atkinson  
19Cameron Cole  
20Roger Rinderknecht  
21Chris Boice (Yeti Fox Shox National Team)  
22Chris Va Dine  
23George Stephenson Iii (Yeti National Team)  
24Kirt Voreis (Specialized / All ride tour)  
25Logan Binggeli (KHS Bicycles)  
26Fabien Cousinie (Black Mountain Morewood Unit)  
27Matti Lehikoinen  
28Tyler Immer (Yeti National team)  
29Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy-Specialized)  
30Cedric Gracia  
31Florent Payet (Black Mountain Morewood Unit)  
32Danny Hart (Giant Factory Team)  
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