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Gould makes it three cross country national titles in a row

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Georgia Gould (Luna) wins her fourth cross country national title

Georgia Gould (Luna) wins her fourth cross country national title (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Judy Freeman (Crank Bros) climbs on lap two

Judy Freeman (Crank Bros) climbs on lap two (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek)

Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) rides in the top five on lap two

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) rides in the top five on lap two (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)

Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) descends the rock garden

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) descends the rock garden (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Very few women descend better than Kelli Emmett (Giant)

Very few women descend better than Kelli Emmett (Giant) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Kelli Emmett (Giant) being cheered by the spectators

Kelli Emmett (Giant) being cheered by the spectators (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) gets her weight back on the descent

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) gets her weight back on the descent (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) rides the rock garden

Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) rides the rock garden (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry) is riding her third national championships this season

Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry) is riding her third national championships this season (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) headed to the finish

Nina Baum (NoTubes) headed to the finish (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized)

Lea Davison (Specialized) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) leads a group down the switchbacks

Nina Baum (NoTubes) leads a group down the switchbacks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The tech zone at Bald Mountain.

The tech zone at Bald Mountain. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes)

Nina Baum (NoTubes) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The "first couple" of mountain biking. Mary McConneloug and Michael Broderick (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)

The "first couple" of mountain biking. Mary McConneloug and Michael Broderick (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Olympians Georgia Gould (L) and Lea Davison (R)

Olympians Georgia Gould (L) and Lea Davison (R) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) descending the switchbacks

Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) descending the switchbacks (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek)

Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Fort Collins residents Georgia Gould and Meredith Miller

Fort Collins residents Georgia Gould and Meredith Miller (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berries) on the long fire road climb

Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berries) on the long fire road climb (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) rides in third place

Lea Davison (Specialized) rides in third place (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Teal Stetson-Lee descends the switchback trail

Teal Stetson-Lee descends the switchback trail (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry) comes through the start/finish

Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry) comes through the start/finish (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Kelli Emmett (Giant) descends the mountain

Kelli Emmett (Giant) descends the mountain (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) having a top 10 ride

Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) having a top 10 ride (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) tries to stay cool in the 85-degree heat

Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) tries to stay cool in the 85-degree heat (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialzied) rides in third place at the end of the first lap

Lea Davison (Specialzied) rides in third place at the end of the first lap (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) has a sixth place ride

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) has a sixth place ride (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Shannon Gibson (NoTubes) supports her riders

Shannon Gibson (NoTubes) supports her riders (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends with a 30-second lead after lap one

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends with a 30-second lead after lap one (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) looked strong as usual

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) looked strong as usual (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) rides with the leaders

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) rides with the leaders (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) is attentive to Heather Irmiger's attack

Lea Davison (Specialized) is attentive to Heather Irmiger's attack (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) rides in third wheel on the first climb

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) rides in third wheel on the first climb (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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A long train of women attempt to match Heather Irmiger's pace

A long train of women attempt to match Heather Irmiger's pace (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The elite women's start is led out by Lea Davison (Specialized)

The elite women's start is led out by Lea Davison (Specialized) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) created separation on the first long climb

Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) created separation on the first long climb (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) riding in the top 10

Nina Baum (NoTubes) riding in the top 10 (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) with one trip left up the mountain

Nina Baum (NoTubes) with one trip left up the mountain (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The luckiest dog on the mountain

The luckiest dog on the mountain (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna) with two of her adoring fans

Georgia Gould (Luna) with two of her adoring fans (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Rebecca Rucsh (Specialized) with her town bike

Rebecca Rucsh (Specialized) with her town bike (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Bald Mountain venue at Sun Valley

Bald Mountain venue at Sun Valley (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) adds another podium finish to her illustrious career

Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) adds another podium finish to her illustrious career (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Krista Park (NoTubes) wears a G-Form protector for her separated shoulder

Krista Park (NoTubes) wears a G-Form protector for her separated shoulder (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) finishes second

Lea Davison (Specialized) finishes second (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) finishes a great ride in third place

Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) finishes a great ride in third place (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Guest race announcer Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) with veteran announcers Richard Fries (L) and Larry Longo ®

Guest race announcer Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) with veteran announcers Richard Fries (L) and Larry Longo ® (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) was beaming after her victory

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) was beaming after her victory (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) with a firm grip on second place

Lea Davison (Specialized) with a firm grip on second place (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) makes her last trip down the rock garden

Lea Davison (Specialized) makes her last trip down the rock garden (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) shows off her descending skills

Heather Irmiger (Subaru Trek) shows off her descending skills (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends with one lap to go

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends with one lap to go (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends the rock garden

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) descends the rock garden (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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A rider carving perfect switchback turns

A rider carving perfect switchback turns (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven) on the most technical descent

Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven) on the most technical descent (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)

Georgia Gould (Luna) won her fourth cross country national championship on Saturday afternoon in Sun Valley, Idaho. That made three titles in a row for Gould, who used to live in the area before she moved to Colorado. Fans cheered her around the course as she rode more than half the race solo off the front.

"It's special to win. It never gets old. Every time is special," said Gould, who crossed the line in 1:45:21. "The national championships - to be able to wear the US national champion's jersey all year - always makes me proud."

Lea Davison (Specialized) finished in second place at 1:42 while Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) was third just over a minute later after a gutsy early move, when she set a blistering pace up the first climb on the opening lap of the five-lap race and shelled some who had been hoping to podium.

"As soon as we started the fireroad, I opened it up and stayed on it," said Irmiger. "I was trying to make everyone work for it, including myself. I like being able to give myself a chance by getting out in front. I felt good up the climb and thought, 'Just freaking go and keep going'."

Gould passed Irmiger at the top of the first climb and went into the singletrack descent as the race leader. Irmiger hung with her through part of the second lap before Gould started to pull away on the second major climb.

"Heather initially dropped us all by 30 seconds. I couldn't go with her and knew I needed to ride my own pace. I tried to keep her within a good distance and was able to catch up to her by the top of the climb. I knew I wanted to go into the top of that downhill first because there is no passing," said Gould. "I wanted to be able to pick my own way down there. I passed her right at the top of the climb, but she was only 10 seconds back that whole downhill."

It wasn't until the climb on the second lap that Gould started to pull away for good.

"This kind of course, you can't really race," said Gould. "Everyone rides as fast as they think they can maintain to ride the laps. You have to go all up the climb, and the whole rest of the time, you are just recovering for the climb."

Eventually Davison, who got the hole shot off the start line and into the first rock garden but was as far back as fourth at one point, passed Irmiger and both riders rode steadily on their own for the rest of the race.

"I felt great and wanted to get out there first and stay out of traffic," said Davison. "Then Heather just punched it up that first pitch which was awesome to see. I like seeing Heather going for it. I thought, 'just maintain distance and contact'. Then I felt better and better every climb."

"I don't know - it takes me a while to get into a race usually. I haven't seen a climb this long or this steep in a while. World Cups aren't like this. Windham was this long, but not this steep. This race is unlike any we've done. You have to dig the entire time, but then you get a long recovery on the descent. I have to work on my starts - to get more speed at the beginning."

Davison said she will skip both the Missoula US Pro XCT and the final World Cup as she prepares for the Olympic Games.

Davison rode the rest of the race in second place and said her experience was similar to 2011, when she also finished second to Gould. "It was exactly like last year - always a bridesmaid. You never know though - I gave my best out there and this was how it ended up." One difference was that Davison got stung by a bee near the top of the final descent this year. The bee ended up in her jersey and stung her multiple times until the finish, when Davison quickly ripped off her jersey to get it out.

Irmiger was pleased to put in a consistent ride for third place. "Honestly, I think I stayed solid and had a fast pace the whole time, but I think Georgia and Lea were just faster today overall."

A bit behind the top three, the battle was on for fourth place, with Pua Mata (ShoAir/Specialized) beating Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) for the final two podium spots.

Mata was pleased to make her first national championship cross country podium. "It was a hard course and these girls are tough," she said. Last weekend, she raced and won a round of the US Pro UET - Mata has been going fast in both short and long distances domestically this season.

"I think maybe if I hadn't raced the US Pro UET last weekend [the Galena Grinder - Ed.], I might have had a little more today. That was a brutal course - the last 50-miler. It's hard to say. But it is what it is and these girls are awesome." Sawicki heads next to Montana for the US Pro XCT and then to Leadville.

"Long and short (races) are both hard in their own way. It's a different pain and you have to get used to it," she said. "It's all coming - it's riding bikes and it's what we love."

Former national champion Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) was happy to be on the podium, especially after having to sit out last year's national championships due to having just contracted Lyme's disease.

"I had one speed today. The elevation affects me in this type of racing, but I felt steady and strong," said McConneloug. "It's great to be here and healthy this year. It's great to not have Lyme disease and to be here representing and part of the festival. I almost caught Pua at the line, and it's great to get on the podium. I passed her at one point on the downhill, but she caught me on the climb. Everyone in front of me is definitely fast and strong."

Race note

Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Race Club 11) put in her best ever elite national championships finish with a sixth place. "I had a fantastic first three laps. I was even fourth for a little bit - I'm very happy with that. It's a little bittersweet - I was sixth place, one place off the podium, and I wanted to be top five today, but it was a good ride for me," said Woodruff.

"I was a little over my head the first two laps, but I've never been in with Lea and Mary and Pua on a climb like that before."

The following video is of the top elite women riding the flat rock garden out on course early in the race, when they were all still close together.

Full Results

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)1:45:21
2Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing)0:01:42
3Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek)0:02:46
4Pua Mata (Sho-Air)0:04:13
5Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes)0:04:14
6Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Race Club 11)0:08:34
7Kelli Emmett (Giant Mountain Bike Team)0:08:35
8Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes)0:09:37
9Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms)0:10:13
10Evelyn Dong0:10:38
11Nina Baum0:11:51
12Rebecca Gross (Tough Girl Cycling)0:12:03
13Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)0:12:08
14Krista Park (Cannondale/NoTubes)0:13:04
15Heidi Rentz0:13:26
16Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team)0:13:32
17Amy Dombroski (crankbrothers race club)0:15:42
18Zephanie Blasi (WXC World Racing)0:18:50
19Kathleen Harding (Team CF)0:21:33
20Jamie Busch0:24:17
21Judy Freeman0:24:56
-1lapJana Repulski (Broken Spoke Cycling)
-1lapJena Greaser (NorEast Cycling)
-1lapAmy Beisel
-1lapRebecca Blatt (Ronin Racing)
-1lapSage Wilderman (Durango Devo)
DNSAllison Mann (RNR/B4B)
DNFSarah Sturm (Durango Devo)

 

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