Jared Graves & Jill Kintner win the 2017 Sea Otter Classic Downhill

Perfect weather, dry conditions & trail bikes win the Sea Otter Downhill

DH Race Coverage Sea Otter Classic

2017 Sea Otter Classic

Jared Graves

It may not be the fastest-looking photo in this gallery, but this is what a winner looks like: Specialized pro Jared Graves, calm and smooth near the top of the 2017 Sea Otter Classic downhill course. Graves won by over two seconds with a final time of two minutes and two-point-four seconds.

Although the World Cup downhill is still a week away, the Sea Otter Classic DH is the unofficial opener for the world gravity racing scene. The terrain at Laguna Seca is smooth and flowy with almost no rocks so most of the racers are on trail bikes, including a lot of 29ers. Sea Otter downhill success is all about being smooth, carrying speed through the corners and flats, and not making any mistakes.

Race day was perfect – blue skies with a few puffy white clouds and perfect temperatures – not too hot and not too cold. The only thing that would have made it better was a little bit of rain overnight to improve traction. It certainly was a beautiful day for the spectators and the course was lined with lots of happy race fans.

Jill Kintner

Red Bull athlete Jill Kintner and her Norco Sight race bike, ready for a (big) beer after taking the win in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro downhill.

There were no surprises in the pro women’s race. Norco pro and one of the most focused and consistent gravity racers in the history of cycling, Jill Kintner, finished first with a time of two minutes and seventeen seconds. Anneke Beerten took second place, giving up four seconds to Jill. Third place went to Caroline Buchanan; and Raewyn Morrison and Samantha Kingshill took fourth and fifth, respectively, with only six tenths of a second separating their times.

The results in the men’s race looked like they put last year’s top five competitors in a hat, shook them up and then dumped them out in a new order with last year’s third-place winner, Marcelo Gutierrez, getting bumped down to the seventh spot. Giant team rider Mike Day and Jared Graves of Specialized swapped places with Graves finishing in two minutes and two seconds and Day following a smidge over 2 seconds later. Giant pro Josh Carlson came took third, Santa Cruz athlete (and product development department employee) Kiran MacKinnon placed fourth and Specialized team member Curtis Keene took the last spot on the podium.

Trevor Roland

Trevor Roland, showing some style during Sunday morning’s pro downhill practice session.

Mike Lee

Mike Lee of Chico throwing a nice tabletop during downhill practice on Sunday morning.

Raewyn Morrison

The 4th place finisher in the Sea Otter women’s pro downhill, racing for Liv/Giant, Raewyn Morrison of New Zealand.

Samantha Kingshill

17 year-old Samantha Kingshill, this year’s 5th place finisher in the Sea Otter Classic pro women’s downhill race.

Anneke Beerten

GT athlete Anneke Beerten, floating over some rocks on her way to 2nd place in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro women’s downhill race.

 Jill Kintner

Winner of this year’s pro women’s downhill at Sea Otter (and most races she enters), Norco pro Jill Kintner.

Martin Maes

French enduro pro Martin Maes finished 17th in the Sea Otter downhill, 7 seconds back from winner Jared Graves.

Brian Cahill

Brian Cahill, looking fast and floaty in the men’s downhill race, finished 57th in the Sea Otter men’s pro downhill.

Bernard Kerr

Pivot pro Bernard Kerr, slithering through some rocks on his way to an 11th place finish in the Sea Otter pro men’s downhill race.

Aaron Gwin

He broke his chain near the start and still managed to finish in 8th place, one of the winning-est downhill racers ever, Aaron Gwin.

Bruce Klein

Smooth and low – that’s the recipe for success in the Sea Otter downhill. This is 9th-place finisher and KHS athlete Bruce Klein, showing how it’s done.

Cedric Gracia

Everyone’s favorite gravity racer, Cedric Gracia, trying to hold the front wheel down on his way to a 44th place finish in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro men’s downhill race.

Dylan Conte

Dylan Conte of Stowe, VT, goes for the style points in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro men’s downhill race.

McKay Vezina

Giant team member McKay Vezina, air-drifting his bike toward the 15th spot in the Sea Otter Classic pro men’s DH race.

 Jubal Davis

Yeti Fox factory racer Jubal Davis, styling his way to tenth place in the Sea Otter pro men’s downhill race.

Kiran MacKinnon

It looks like being on the product development team is good for a racer: Santa Cruz bikes employee Kiran MacKinnon and 4th place finisher in this year’s Sea Otter Classic pro men’s DH race.

Josh Carlson

Australian Giant Factory team member Josh Carlson, charging hard in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro men’s DH race. Josh took the third spot on the podium but he wins first place for looking fast.

Mike Day

Second place finisher in the Sea Otter pro men’s downhill, Giant Factory team rider Mike Day.

Bas Van Steenbergen

Fox athlete Bas Van Steenbergen, 6th place finisher in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic men’s pro downhill race.

Brett Donohue

Racing for team Hawaiian shirt (they have a representative in every race), Brett Donohue, in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic men’s pro downhill.

Sea Otter DH Course

A wide shot of the Sea Otter downhill course with Salt Lake City pro Demetri Triantafillou in the air.

Graves DH Bike

2017 Sea Otter Classic men’s pro downhill champion Jared Graves with the Specialized S-Works Camber 29 trail bike he rode to the win. Photo provided by Specialized. He rode exact same bike in the dual slalom race but swapped out the 29er wheels for 27.5 and dropped the fork 20mm.

This article is part of Mtbr’s coverage of the 2017 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: John Shafer

John Shafer, a.k.a. Photo-John, is a respected photography expert and adventure photographer. He’s been an Mtbr forum member and contributor since 1999 and you can find his writing and photography across the Web, in mountain bike magazines and on his own Web site, Photo-John.net. John loves big mountains, rocky singletrack, low-visibility powder days, 6-inch trail bikes, coffee and tacos. Look for him pushing his bike uphill, carrying an inappropriate amount of camera gear in an overloaded backpack.


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