Melissa Buhl rode to victory at the Sea Otter downhill race on Sunday morning. She was 2.5 seconds ahead of the other top favorite Jill Kintner (Transitions). Miranda Miller finished third ahead of Cierra Smith in fourth and Jamie Rees in fifth.
"It was a good run and I felt strong," said Buhl. "I tried to stay on the gas the whole time. Every time my tires landed off a jump, I tried to get right on it. This track is a burner for everyone. There is a big fitness aspect to this course. Those last two straightaways are long and you're wondering where the finish line is."
Buhl was the final rider down and experience, including past Sea Otter wins, paid off.
The morning after winning the dual slalom, Kinter, the second to last racer down the hill, wasn't having as good of a day. "This one kind of baffles me. There is so much sprinting, and I was off a bit on a few things. That's all it takes I guess.
"It's all about the pedaling more than than cleaning all the stuff. Melissa owns this course."
Miller was delighted with her third place. "This is the best Sea Otter result I've had so I'm pumped," she said.
Since last year, organizers hired trailbuilders to give the downhill course an overhaul. Their efforts were successful as the riders across the board seemed to favor the changes.
"The guys who came out and gave the track a face lift did a really awesome job," said Buhl. "They tightened it up a bit so some of the corners are a bit more technical and they worked on the jumps."
"They made some changes to the course and it flows a bit better," said Miller. "Halfway down, you're still thinking, 'I thought I trained but it doesn't feel like it at this point.' I just tried to pedal and lay off the brakes - you don't need them."
Junior downhill world champion Lauren Rosser was seventh in her first Sea Otter. Freshly signed by Commencal Young Guns, the Canadian had just gotten her bike two days ago. She was in her first race of the season and preparing for the Canada Cups and a few World Cups.
"I felt strong, but halfway down I slid out on a corner and got turned around," said Rosser. "Then I just kept on the gas and kept going. I liked the course."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Melissa Buhl (USA) KHS Bicycles||0:02:28.1|
|2||Jill Kintner (USA) Transition Racing||0:00:02.6|
|3||Miranda Miller (Can) Santa Cruz / SRAM / Pink Bike||0:00:09.5|
|4||Cierra Smith (USA) Specialized AllRide Academy||0:00:11.3|
|5||Jaime Rees (USA) Loeka/The Bike Hub||0:00:13.6|
|6||Joanna Petterson (USA)||0:00:15.3|
|7||Lauren Rosser (Can) Commencal Young Guns||0:00:21.6|
|8||Mary Moncorge (USA) Santa Cruz Alliance||0:00:24.8|
|9||Darian Harvey (USA) Vixen Racing||0:00:24.9|
|10||Adrienne Schneider (USA) Troy Lee Designs||0:00:27.3|
|11||Jennifer Wolf (USA) All Mountain Cyclery||0:00:30.2|
|12||Katie Holden (USA) Specialized USA||0:00:34.8|
|13||Megan Zemny (USA) Santa Cruz Alliance||0:00:36.7|
|DNF||Mariska Chuse (USA)|
|DNF||Gabriela Williams (USA) TPR Racing|
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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.
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