Sunday, the last day of the Sea Otter Classic, dawned cool and foggy. The cool temps were a relief after an unseasonably hot Saturday and I’m sure the racers appreciated the cooler weather for the downhill finals. The fog made for interesting, atmospheric race photos, although it did hide the dramatic, green backdrop of the hills around Laguna Seca. Lucky for the photographers – and I wasn’t the only one – the fog burned off before all the pros went so we got some sunny spring race photos as well as spooky fog action.
The Sea Otter downhill course is very different from most. It requires a lot of pedaling and it doesn’t have any real technical sections. Racers who have a stronger pedaling background have a real chance to beat more technically skilled riders in Monterey. Bike and tire choice is also a factor, with a lot of riders choosing cross-country tires and trail bikes and over more traditional long-travel downhill bikes. There are a lot of big jumps at the top so jumping skills definitely help. But overall, fitness is what wins the Sea Otter downhill.
Jill Kintner repeated her performance from the pro dual slalom on Saturday and took another win. The top pro male was Jared Graves, followed by Mick Hannah, Aaron Gwin, Brian Lopes and Neko Mulally. Giant pro Danny Hart, the big star on last year’s world cup DH circuit, finished eighteenth. The second through fifth place women were Melissa Buhl, Manon Carpenter, Miranda Miller and Holly Feniak. I want to give a special mention to my friend Wendy Palmer who came back after a six year absence and finished eighth in the pro women’s race. Nice job, Wendy!
Full downhill race results are here.