Yeti-FOX’s Houseman wins Mt. Snow dual slalom
Mt. Snow, Vermont (June 17 and 18) – It was a “weekend of crazy ups and downs,” said Yeti-FOX Racing Factory Race Team manager Damon Smith. In two days the team experienced everything from mental error to mechanical failure to resounding victory.
This is a press release written by me, Lee McCormack
According to Smith, the dual slalom was a typical nationals course: a couple berms, a table or two, a few stutter bumps and a bunch of rutted turns. “It didn’t look like they put much work into it,” he said, “but it was fun.”
Jared Graves qualified first. Rich Houseman qualified third, and Justin Leov qualified 8th. In the round of 16, Graves won his first run by a healthy margin. In the second run he rested and followed Jared Rando down the course — a smart strategy except Rando was farther ahead than Graves realized … and Graves lost it by 0.06 seconds. So the number one qualifier had to settle for 9th place.
Meanwhile Houseman was picking off riders like so many boogers. He met Andrew Neethling in the final and killed it to take the overall win. Sweet! Leov made to the round of eight and wound up 7th overall. Not too shabby.
The Mt. Snow downhill course has always been known for high-speed ski runs and harsh rock faces. One second you’re doing 40 through the grass, then POW you hit a sofa made of granite. Past courses have tempered the speed with tricky traverses and the Yard Sale section — a steep rock- and root-fest that becomes deadly in the rain. This year, organizers omitted the tricky stuff and ran the tape pretty much straight down the hill. The rain never showed up, and the course wound up very fast, with great traction and a severe disdain for bicycles.
The speed and impacts were exploding rims and snapping forks (not FOX 40s) in half. “I was hoping it would rain,” said Smith. “The riders would have slowed down, and it would have been easier on the bikes.” The Yeti-FOX boys experienced the kind of trouble you only find when you’re really fast: On the high speed sections they’d hit these little turns — braaap — and their tires would rip right off the rims. The tubes still held air; they just weren’t on the rims anymore.
Leov pulled this trick in qualifying, and he rolled down eight minutes behind the qualifying pace. “It was like no way,” Smith lamented. “Last week at Sugar Mountain he took second, and this time he didn’t even make the final.”
In the final, Houseman ran a 3:44.79 to finish 29th out of 70 qualifiers. Graves rode a clean 3:25.83 and finished 4th, only six seconds behind winner Greg Minnaar.
To recap the Mt. Snow experience: Houseman rode an OK downhill and ripped a perfect slalom. Leov endured a disappointing downhill and rode a good slalom. And Graves — he suffered a heartbreaking slalom but ripped a great downhill.
“This was good practice for the Mt. St. Anne World Cup,” said Smith. “That course is pretty rough. Jared is using this race to gain confidence for next week. We’re right on track for the World Cup. We look forward to it.”
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