Powless celebrates first mountain bike national title

Newly crowned US U23 cross country national champion Shayna Powless was all smiles after the finish of her race on Friday morning at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The 19-year-old from Roseville, California had just won her first-ever mountain bike national title on a very hot and humid summer day.

"It was a fun race and it was tough. I definitely had to clip out a few times because it was pretty technical, but it was one of my favorite races so far," said Powless to Cyclingnews.

Racing her first year in the U23 division, Powless is also a student at UCLA, where she will be a sophomore in the fall. She is studying physiological science as preparation for what she hopes will be an eventual career in physical therapy.

For a time, Powless battled defending U23 national champion Lauren Catlin (Durango Devo), but Catlin had a wheel problem and dropped out of the race after lap two.

Powless has been racing a bunch of the Pro XCTs this season and even a few World Cups. "Last weekend I did the Subaru Cup and the week before that was Missoula. I also did Fontana, Bonelli and Sea Otter. I did three World Cups in Europe: Val di Sole, Albstadt and Nove Mesto."

Her best finish was a 22nd in the U23 category in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. She has also been getting top 15s in the Pro XCTS and their associated short tracks.

Powless was second in the junior 17-18 national championship race in 2012. She is a former Xterra national champion, a title she won in 2010.

The technical, rocky nationals course suited her well. "I liked this course more than last year's. I like the more technical courses, and there was less climbing this year. I love this kind of terrain. After doing the World cups over in Europe, the terrain is a lot like this , minus the drops. There is a pretty good drop here, and that reminded me of a World Cup course a little bit."

She heads next to the Pro XCT finals at the Catamount Classic in Vermont, then to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec for the World Cup.

"I'd love to go to the world championships if I get invited," she said.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.