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Ropelato and Kintner win four cross titles

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The crowd was quite large for the "under the lights" mountain cross races.

The crowd was quite large for the "under the lights" mountain cross races. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mitch Ropelato (Cafe Rio) wheels up

Mitch Ropelato (Cafe Rio) wheels up (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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TJ Fisker (Mafia Racing) in the air

TJ Fisker (Mafia Racing) in the air (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) attacks the course with the sun setting behind him.

Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) attacks the course with the sun setting behind him. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Joseph Backus (Factory Staats) comes over a rise.

Joseph Backus (Factory Staats) comes over a rise. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Melissa Buhl (KHS) leads Kathy Pruitt.

Melissa Buhl (KHS) leads Kathy Pruitt. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Kathy Pruitt (Jamis) makes the finals.

Kathy Pruitt (Jamis) makes the finals. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Carney Blake (Hayes/Sun Ringle)

Carney Blake (Hayes/Sun Ringle) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Richard Housman (Intense)

Richard Housman (Intense) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Ross Milan (Yeti Fox) on left, Joseph Backus (Factory Staats) right

Ross Milan (Yeti Fox) on left, Joseph Backus (Factory Staats) right (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Jill Kintner (Red Bull/Intense) leads the final.

Jill Kintner (Red Bull/Intense) leads the final. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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John Swanguen (Intense/Troy Lee Designs)

John Swanguen (Intense/Troy Lee Designs) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) finished third.

Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) finished third. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Richard Housman (Intense)

Richard Housman (Intense) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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World Champion Melissa Buhl (KHS) took second place.

World Champion Melissa Buhl (KHS) took second place. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Jill Kintner (Red Bull/Intense) wins the national championship.

Jill Kintner (Red Bull/Intense) wins the national championship. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Brian Buell (Team Geronimo)

Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)

A mix of new names and familiar names topped the podiums at the elite four cross national championship on Saturday evening in Granby, Colorado. Jill Kintner (Red Bull / Intense / Crankbrothers) and Mitch Ropelato (Café Rio / Canfield Brothers) took home the titles after the finals.

In the women's race, it was a battle between two of the best women in the world: Kintner and current four cross World Champion Melissa Buhl (Red Bull / Intense / Crankbrothers). The two hooked elbows at the top, but both showed their skill and experience by keeping it upright and then riding away from their competition.

"Buhly and I are always pretty even," said Kintner. "She is always really fast out of the start. She got kinda of loose and I got kinda loose at the start." Kinter came out of the tangle faster and found herself at the top of the run with a significant gap.

"After that she had a big gap and it was hard to close it," said Buhl. "We were drifting in every corner. It was tough. It was unfortunate as we couldn't accelerate at the start, and it balled up the pack a little, but that's racing. It's four cross and I expect it. If that kind of thing doesn't happen, you'd wonder if you tried hard enough."

"It's good to get the stars and stripes back," said Kintner after her win, recalling her last championship win in 2006. "The more loose and crazy it got, the more fun it was." Many racers commented that the track got looser and looser over the course of the evening.

Kathy Pruitt (Jamis) and Darian Harvey (Cannondale Factory Racing) finished third and fourth in the big final.

In the men's race, the 17-year-old Ropelato surprised many by winning the final.

"I got a little tangled up but pulled out of it the best I could and just pinned it," said Ropelato, who lives in Ogden, Utah. "I'm so excited right now."

Rich Houseman (Intense) and Ropelato split one way at the top of the run while Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) and JD Swanguen (Intense / Troy Lee Designs) split the other.

"That last run was hectic," said Buelle, who passed Houseman to occupy second for a brief period during the final run. "I kinda went through the middle. First and second bobbled and I moved into second, but then Rich came and got me back when I almost fell off the course." Buelle is a pro racer and manager for the junior development Team Geronimo.

Houseman ended up second, Buell took third and JD Swanguen finished fourth in the big final.

Elite men
1Mitch Ropelato (Cafe Rio / Canfield Brothers)
2Richard Houseman (Intense)
3Brian Buell (Team Geronimo)
4John Swanguen (Intnese/Troy Lee Designs/ODI/Fox Racing Shox)
5Joseph Backus (Factory Staats)
6Blake Carney (Hayes / Sun Ringle / Nema / Manitou / ODI / Yeti)
7Jamas Stiber (Stiber Racing)
8Ross Milan (Yeti Fox National)
9Logan Binggeli (KHS Bicycles)
10George Stephenson (Yeti Fox Regional)
11James Schwanke (Haro / Axo / Oakley / Subway)
12Nick Van Dine (Cannondale Factory Racing)
13Sean Mcclendon (X-Fusion/Intense)
14Thomas Tokarczyk (Jamis Bikes)
15Fisker Tj (Mafia Racing)
16Jordan Rupe (Team Totally Wired)
17Cody Wilderman (Yeti Fox Regional)
18Joshua Hubbard
19Arthur Daley
20James Hollibaugh (Mafia Racing)
21Michael Buell (Team Geronimo)
22Chase Bohn (Versus Cycles)
23Steven Wentz (Team SolVista / Commencal USA)
24Tyler Wilson (X-Fusion/Intense)
25Kayman Benetti (Go Pro Camera)
26David Ziegman (Yeti Fox Racing Team)
27Dante Harmony (All Mountain Cyclery/Hayes)
28Jarrod Jakubiak
29Daniel Cortina (CR1 Engineering / NEMA / Cortina)
30Michael Haderer (Fox Shox/Orange Bikes/Easton/Bell)
31Heikki Hall (E13)
32Taylor Cuisinot (Xtreme Outfitters)
33Rudy Unrau (Yeti Fox Regional)

Elite women
1Jill Kintner
2Melissa Buhl
3Kathy Pruitt
4Darian Harvey
5Jacqueline Harmony
6Rachel Bauer
7Neven Steinmetz

Cat. 1/2/3 Women
1Johanne Tuttle
2Alisha Gibson
3Catherine Cantway
4Christen Boyer
5Christin Mccurdy
6Brittany Jackson
7Maddie Crowley
8Soraya Khalje
9Katy Monger

Cat. 1 Junior Men 15-18
1Garrett Rose
2Christian Wright
3Teddy Benge
4Kevin Aiello
5Sam Powers
6Harrison Ory
7James Ontiveros
8Samuel Stevens
9Max Syron
10Andy Proctor

Cat. 1 Men 19-29
1Shawn Eason
2John Clark
3Keaton Ward
4Matthew Russell
5Joel Shelton
6Daniel Mazuti
7Geoffrey Fryer
8Billy Parker
9Max Beard
10Casey Norton

Cat. 1 Men 30-39
1Eric Landis
2John Lewis
3Jon Houde
4Joshua Graham
5Jason Halverson
6Jason Wilber
7Shawnee Mcgovern
8Chris Webb
9Jeff Kegu
10Brian Pier
11Evan Chute
12Steve Valenti

Cat 1 Men 40+
1Chris Cawley
2Damon Kirchmeier
3David Decker
4Randy Hall
5Wade Wilderman

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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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