Andrew Neethling (RSA) and Tracy Moseley (GBR) backed up their wins from the previous week at the Pro Gravity DH #2, with impressive wins at the even more prestigious US Open that saw many World Cup stars attending. In winning the Men’s race, Andrew relegated 2008 World Champion Gee Atherton (GBR) to 2nd, and pre-race favourite Sam Hill (AUS) to 5th.
The US Open is also notable for paying a pro rider purse worthy of professional downhill racing, making it a popular stop for the top riders every May. In all, the three Trek World Racing riders took home $13,000 in prize money following their four podium results, and ensuring that this is an event that TWR will visit again.
The weather was ideal for the week, but the rocky sections of the course were often tough on tyres. A few big names punctured in qualifying (Marc Beaumont, Kyle Strait and Bryn Atkinson), so without a protection system for these world ranked riders they were out for the finals. Our riders ran Maxxis Minions all week on their Session 88s and never had an issue, except for a big crash in training for Justin that left him with a corked leg that was promptly iced before qualifying.
In qualifying for the Women’s race, Tracy finished 2nd. This was her first visit to the US Open and was sure she could find time in the final against fastest qualifier Melissa Buhl (USA) and Jill Kintner (USA) who crashed on the line in qualifying yet was okay to race the final. Andrew was third behind Mick Hannah (AUS) and Gee, and Justin was in 6th. Both guys knew they had more in the tank.
For the finals all three riders stepped it up and in a repeat of last weekend’s results, finished with two wins and a 3rd. Back to back wins for Andrew and Tracy are a huge boost for confidence and moral. Andrew said: “After qualifying I knew I had a chance at the win today and my goal was to go for it. For sure I was a bit nervous at the start, but that’s normal against such a world class field. My game plan was to be smooth and keep the flow exiting the woods because after practice in the morning I realised that being too aggressive in the rock section wasn’t going to pay off. I punched hard to the finish in the open section, and to be honest, I am absolutely over the moon.”
Tracy said: “It’s pretty cool to be at the US Open for the first time. The crowds in the rock section were huge and having a great party. I was really happy with my top section, but I slid out exiting the woods and it felt like I had flatted. So I rode a bit cautiously for a little while after that. When I realised it wasn’t actually a flat I attacked the last section really hard. I’m very happy to win here. Such a great weekend for the team and now I’m so looking forward to Fort William!”
Justin said: “I’m happy with the aggression I showed in my riding here, I pushed really hard. I just made a couple of mistakes that I need to eliminate for the future. Again, I’m happy with the podium and am stoked for Andrew. The team is on a natural high right now!”
A big thanks again to Neko Mulally and his grandmother Rosaline who fed the team like royalty for the past 10 days and no doubt was the fuel behind the victories!
The downhillers board a plane today and head directly to Fort William for World Cup Round #2 this weekend.
1. Andrew Neethling (Trek World Racing) 2m 19.55secs 2. Gee Atherton (USA) 2m 20.09secs 3. Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) 2m 20.36secs 4. Steve Smith (CAN) 2m 21.00secs 5. Sam Hill (AUS) 2m 21.52secs
1. Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) 2m 40.16secs 2. Jill Kintner (USA) 2m 40.57secs 3. Melissa Buhl (USA) 2m 42.58secs
Women’s Giant Slalom:
1. Jill Kintner (USA) 2. Melissa Buhl (USA) 3. Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing)