Monster Army

2019 PRO GRT: Winter Park

Author: Ross McDonald

Take a read through the below for the full play-by-play of the Pro GRT National in Winter Park, Colorado. 

Welcome to Winter Park, Colorado, home of the 2019 Mountain Bike National Championships. The start hut is around 10,700’, making breathing quite difficult on the longer-than-usual Downhill track.

The first championship event was Dual Slalom, held on Friday for the Pros and Jr Experts 17-18. Although racing Downhill in the junior class, Matt Sterling has had some recent success in slalom and has bumped up to race the pros. Here he takes on fellow Monster Army Teammate, Nik Nestoroff in one of the earlier rounds.

Dante Silva also bumped up into the pro slalom ranks this year and would finish a respectable 9th.

Ethan Alexander and Kaden Pankow hike up the hill to duke it out again in the Junior Expert class. In Dual Slalom racing, both competitors race each other down both tracks with the overall time winning. The maximum advantage from winning the first round is only 1.5 seconds though, regardless of how much further back 2nd place was.

Top seed for the Jr’s, Austin Dooley, knocked out Ethan Alexander on his way to the finals. Ethan would finish 8th overall.

Mazie Hayden calming the nerves with Poppa Bear.

Aiden Chapin all the way near the end of the course, edging out his competitor for a solid 5th place finish.

Austin Dooley gets his GoPro ready for the finals while his father is there for support. Austin missed out on the win by just a hair and would settle for second.

Mazie Hayden Lines up in the start gate, ready to get it on. Mazie would go on to finish 6th in the highly competitive Pro Women’s field, filled with ex-BMX Racers and 4-cross athletes.

Matt sterling and crew take a breather before the final round.

Matt had a chance to be national champ in the finals for Slalom, going up against 2x Champ, Kyle Strait. Both races were nail biters, with finishes so close, only the computer could tell. Turns out Matt had to take home the silver by what was immeasurable by the eye. He’s becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Dante Silva shows off his style even when he isn’t rolling.

Bruce is amazed at how exciting slalom was.

Saturday was a long day, with Downhill seeding starting at 6pm. Samantha Soriano would slot into the 5 spot on her home mountain.

Mazie Hayden would come down the hill shortly after Sam and find herself in 4th at the end of the day.

Defending National Champion (note the number plate), Zach Gareis keeps it casual with a t-shirt for his seeding run. Zach went 5th fastest.

Matt Sterling showing he’s not just a tight track master, going fastest in seeding for the Junior Experts.

Californian, Cole Suetos has shown his speed all year long and would wind up 3rd right behind Sterling and Dante Silva to start 3rd to last on race day.

Austin Dooley, Cole’s neighbor in SoCal, ran nearly and identical time to Cole, only .5 back in 4th place.

Top performer from SoCal went to Dante Silva on the day, ending up only 0.22 seconds off of Norcal’s Matt Sterling in the Junior Expert category.

Also from Southern California, Aiden Chapin took to the hill in his rain jacket. He would run a quick time to put him in 7th.

Matt Driscoll came all the way out from New Hampshire to tackle the big rocky mountains. Matt would place 12th in his seeding run, but would clean it up on race day for a 7th!

Charlie Harrison is back for his first race from a scaphoid break. He would go 2nd fastest on seeding day, ahead of defending champion, Neko Mulally, in 3rd.

Nik Nestoroff had a smooth run to 4th place, only 2 seconds back from Charlie.

Bruce Klein has had a bit of a rollercoaster season with it’s highs and lows, but he has the speed. If he stays on the bike it should be good. Bruce did not manage to do so in seeding, but since everyone makes it into the race on Sunday, it was a quick shift of focus towards tomorrow.

Steve Walton would have some trouble too, coming down with a front flat.

Steve took the time to look at some developing lines and wave to the fans.

Zach Gareis would set the time to beat with 4 Juniors left on the hill.

Finals started right at 10am on Sunday with the Junior Experts. Austin Dooley would go 10 seconds faster than seeding, but would still end up 3 seconds back from Gareis for a 2nd place with 3 to go.

Cole Suetos was the next rider on track, and he would go fastest for the time being.

Dante Silva was the next rider down the hill, but could not upset Suetos, going just a mere .19 seconds slower.

Matt Sterling was the final Junior rider down the hill. The time to beat was 5:13 by Cole Suetos and Matt looked to be flying by the open bits at the bottom of the hill. He came across the line at 5:10 for the 17-18 Junior Expert National title!

Samantha Soriano watches the Juniors take off the starting line before her race. It was a bit windy and chilly at the top, needless to say.

Mazie Hayden takes to her own methods of getting and staying warm.

Samantha Soriano took off 11 seconds from her seeding time despite crashing, but it was not meant to be as she would go into 2nd, behind Caroline Washam.

Mazie would take to the hill right after Samantha, but slot 1.4 seconds behind her. At the end of the day, Samantha would take home 5th, and Mazie 6th.

Bruce Klein would start quite early in the order due to seeding mistakes. He laid down an incredibly quick time that would hold until the final 3 competitors. Amazing how quickly a weekend can turn around.

In one of the more scenic places to ride, Steve Walton wastes no time getting to the bottom of the hill and the front of the pack. He would fall in line behind Bruce, yet most of the fast guys were still at the top. Steve would end up 7th, a stellar result for the young’un.

With only 4 riders to go, Nik Nestoroff took off in a hurry and would sandwich himself between Bruce’s time and Steven’s for a 2nd place with 3 riders to go. They would all go faster, giving Nik a 5th place on the weekend.

Charlie Harrison looked like he hadn’t missed a beat since his injury. Despite taking 11 seconds off his seeding time, he would have to settle for 2nd to Neko Mulally, repeat champion by just under 3 seconds.

Steve Walton is all smiles after a 7th place with teammate, Logan Binggeli (left) and manager Quinton Spaulding (right).

That’s all from Winter Park, Colorado. Matt Sterling taking home a gold for the Monster Army team and Charlie taking a 2nd in pro was quite a stellar performance. Can’t wait to see how everyone does at World Champs and the rest of the year!