Kintner and Ropelato take Sea Otter dual slalom

Huge crowds and great action at annual event's hallmark race

Sea Otter Classic

2017 Sea Otter Classic

Mitch Ropelato

Mitch Ropelato, winner of the mean’s 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro dual slalom, with his Santa Cruz 5010 race bike.

The Sea Otter pro dual slalom is one of the great spectacles in mountain biking. Along with the beautiful venue and rowdy crowd, the head-to-head, bracket-style competition is always action packed.

The field included a host of top gravity racers and freeride stars from around the world, including Kyle Strait, Jared Graves, Jill Kintner, Bryn Atkinson, Bernard Kerr, Anneke Beerten, and Fabien Cousinie. And the women’s field was larger than usual with 16 starters. In the end it was Mitch Ropelato and Jill Kintner – both Americans — taking the top podium spots.

Kyle Strait and  Cody Johnson

Kyle Strait (left) and Cody Johnson, battling it out in the round-of-eight in the Sea Otter dual slalom. Strait won this round and moved on to face eventual winner Mitch Ropelato.

The top men’s contenders, based on qualifying and practice looked to be Santa Cruz pro team rider Mitch Ropelato, Pivot’s Bernard Kerr, Commencal’s Kyle Strait, Jared Graves of Specialized, GT’s Martin Maes, Giant’s Mike Day, Bryn Atkinson of Norco, Ghost pro Tomas Slavik, and Yeti rider Cody Kelley. You never know what kind of toll the course will take, though. Kerr, who was going huge in practice, lost to last year’s winner, Martin Maes, in the second round. And Graves, always a crowd favorite, crashed and lost to Day in the second round, as well.

In semifinals it came down to Ropelato against Strait and Maes versus Slavik. Ropelato handily beat Strait, while Slavik lost to Maes. The final round had Maes pulling on Ropelato and taking the first race at the bottom. In the second and final heat, Ropelato knew he had no room for error and stayed extra focused to take the win. Strait finessed the flat corners at the bottom and put in a solid sprint at the finish to beat Slavik in the consolation round.

Jill Kintner

Jill Kintner, winner of the women’s 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro dual slalom, with her Norco Optic race bike.

The final four for the pro women came down to Kintner against Danielle Beecroft and Caroline Buchanan versus Beerten. Kintner and Buchanan both advanced to the finals, which Kintner won. Buchanan made her work for it, though.

Keep scrolling to see more action from what is always the most well attended race at Sea Otter.

Mitch Ropelato

Santa Cruz pro Mitch Ropelato launching out of the last berm and away from Martin Maes in the finals.

Kyle Warner

Kyle Warner, who lost to winner Mitch Ropelato in the first round.

Ryan Condrashoff

Bay Area local and Mtbr homie Ryan Condrashoff lost in the first round to eventual third place finisher Tomas Slavik.

Jared Graves

Jared Graves boosting into one of the big berms in the middle of the Sea Otter dual slalom course. Jared got taken out of the competition in the second round by Mike Day.

Kyle Strait

Kyle Strait (left), sprinting to a decisive finish against Tomas Slavik in the consolation round of the Sea Otter pro men’s dual slalom race.

Caroline Buchanan and Anneke Beerten

Second place finisher Caroline Buchanan (left) and third place finisher Anneke Beerten, in the semifinals of the pro women’s dual slalom race at the Sea Otter Classic.

Mike Day

Giant pro Mike Day, after crashing out in the treacherous flat turns at the bottom.

Mitch Ropelato

This year’s pro men’s dual slalom champ, Mitch Ropelato, getting loose coming out of one of the big sculpted berms.

Tomas Slavik

Fourth place finisher Tomas Slavik boosting into the rhythm section in the middle of the course.

Anneke Beerten

A double dose of GT – Anneke Beerten leads teammate Arielle Martin-Ve.

Danielle Beecroft

Danielle Beecroft, 4th place finisher in the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pro women’s dual slalom race, with Emilie Siegenthal in the background.

Jill Kintner

Those eyes! The dominant force in women’s dual slalom, Jill Kintner, on her way to another Sea Otter slalom win.

Martin Maes and Bernard Kerr

Enduro World Series pro and two-time Sea Otter slalom champ Martin Maes (left), up against World Cup downhill dominator Bernard Kerr in the second round of the pro men’s dual slalom. Maes would win this one and advance three more rounds to race this year’s winner, Mitch Ropelato, in the finals.

Danielle Beecroft

Pivot pro Danielle Beecroft, launching the stepdown before the final, flat corners on the Sea Otter Classic dual slalom course.

Kyle Strait

Kyle Strait (right) charges out of the final and tightest berm in the second round of the Sea Otter dual slalom, with Joseph Foresta in the background. Kyle advanced and finished third overall.

Dakota Norton and Marcello Gutierrez

Dakota Norton (left) and Marcello Gutierrez, battling it out in the second round of the Sea Otter pro men’s dual slalom race. Gutierrez advanced and lost to overall winner Mitch Ropelato in the next round.

Caroline Buchanan

Second-place finisher in the 2017 Sea Otter pro women’s dual slalom, Caroline Buchanan.

Mitch Ropelato

Your 2017 Sea Otter dual slalom champ, Mitch Ropelato, coming out of the final berm and laying down the power near the bottom of the course.

Rachel Strait

GT athlete Rachel Strait, in the first round of the pro women’s dual slalom at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic. Rachel had the misfortune of getting matched up with teammate and gravity powerhouse Anneke Beerten in the first round and she did not get a chance to advance.

Anneke Beerten

Anneke Beerten, third place pro female finisher in this year’s Sea Otter Classic dual slalom.

Kyle Strait

Crowd favorite, Kyle Strait, lofting himself into one of the huge berms in the middle of the Sea Otter dual slalom course. Kyle lost to Mitch Ropelato in round-of-four and took third place in the consolation round.

Bryn Atkinson

Bryn Atkinson, keeping his eyes on the prize as he drops into one of the big berms in the middle of the Sea Otter Classic slalom course. Unfortunately, the prize wasn’t meant to be his year and he was taken out in the second round by Tomas Slavik.

Martin Maes

EWS competitor and two time winner at the Sea Otter dual slalom, Martin Maes, coming in hot off a big lip in one of the rhythm sections in the middle of the 2017 dual slalom course.

Bernard Kerr

Pivot athlete and World Cup DH pro Bernard Kerr, going huge and tripling one of the rhythm sections during pre-race practice for the 2017 Sea Otter dual slalom.

Fabien Cousinie

Fabien Cousinie on the Polygon’s new Square One bike during the 2017 Sea Otter pro men’s dual slalom race.

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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