The entire team at Beech Mountain (Ski Beech) really have to be commended on the quality of the event they hosted last weekend. Site of the 2011 USA Cycling Gravity National Championships for Downhill and Dual Slalom, Beech Mountain offered challenging courses, great staff, fireworks, amenities and fun surrounding events to welcome riders and spectators from across the country with Southern charm.
Having qualified only a month ago for the event, I knew the course well and was prepared for a tough event. Seven of the roughly 45 racers who qualified showed up to compete in my class: Amateur Cat 2/3 30-39. I was seeded in 4th after qualifying runs on Friday going into Saturday's final heats.
Here's how Saturday's racing went: The round of eight was fairly easy, as I took both heats with decent leads. In the semi finals, I was paired up with the #1 qualifier John O'Shura (shown in photo). He won the first heat by a slim margin, but I took him in the second with enough difference to move on to the final round. In the final, I met with Bryan Morgan who also won the qualifier here a month ago and was the #2 seeded rider. First round, I lead Bryan all the way to the last jump, but over shot it to miss the final gate on the course. After going back to get the gate, I was down by the max 1.5 seconds. In the final heat of the day, I beat Bryan, but not by a large enough margin to take the win. He was a great competitor and someone I look forward to racing again.
I'm proud to earn a silver medal, and I am really excited about training harder to compete next year in Cat 1 for the national championship jersey.