Respect The Ice: Sliding Through ‘Cross National Championships

Enero 11 — 2017

The 2017 US Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Connecticut saw an array of weather conditions ranging from dry grass early in the week, slippery mud in the middle of the week, and snow later in the week. Santa Cruz Factory Racing made its debut on Friday, with both Scott Chapin and Justin Robinson collecting silver medals in their respective age categories.

On Saturday, Hartford woke up to another onslaught of snow, with a total accumulation of 4 inches on the day. Scott Chapin and Justin Robinson rode the blanketed course with little reserve, blazing their way to the front of the congested 100+ rider pack. Temperatures hovered just below 20ºF which kept the ground icey and appendages frozen. Chapin commenced another battle with Isaac Neff, who he placed second to on Friday, hoping to find a chink in his armor on a 42x18 equipped Stigmata. At the end of the race, it appeared as though Scott Chapin had wrestled with some resident norse god of cyclocross, with icicles weighing down his mustache and his feet badly frostbitten. Chapin rolled his way into a well earned silver medal, with Justin Robinson close behind for bronze.

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Ian Stowe

A cold, cloudless, bluebird day welcomed spectators on the final day of racing on Sunday. In the Pro Women’s Field, Chelsea Weidinger of Mash SF would pilot her Stigmata to a respectable 34th place in a field strewn with world cup podium contenders and east coast natives accustomed to the snow.

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Ian Stowe

The pro men were set to race Sunday afternoon, with pre-race commentary trying to identify who could end Jeremy Powers’ 3 year reign of the National Champion title. Among the shortlist was Santa Cruz’s own Tobin Ortenblad, who was being labeled as the “dark horse” of the contenders.

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Ian Stowe

Tobin “McTubbin” Ortenblad arrived in Connecticut with his two Stigmatas and was surprised by a custom-painted third delivered by coach and mechanic Chris McGovern. Tobin’s new Stigmata is emblazoned with red stripes on a white frame, “Tobin” on the seat tube, and Tobin’s spirit animal, The Great White Jackelope, on the seatstay yoke. McGovern dialed in the fleet of Stigmatas, though Tobin ended up not pitting in the race.

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Ian Stowe

Right out of the gate the pro field saw a move by Yannick Eckmann who chose an alternate line on the Bonk Breaker Hill, forcing Tobin and a few others to chase.

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Ian Stowe

To many spectators, the alternate line choices on Bonk Breaker Hill seemed to be a decisive factor in the race, with eventual winner Stephen Hyde and fourth place finisher Jack Kisseberth switching to what looked like a faster, lower line. Tobin commented on the dichotomy of the two lines saying that “...there were advantages and disadvantages. I tried both and if you went low, you had to ride along the poles [holding the course tape] and the foot holes were less established.”

Tobin agreed that the hill was a significant factor in the race, but not because of the two lines, which seemed to be roughly the same speed, but because whoever dropped into the steep downhill following the runup would lead through the next section where passing was limited.

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Ian Stowe

Ultimately, a gap was established and Tobin spent much of the race chasing down the eventual champion Stephen Hyde with several others. In the final laps of the race the sun disappeared, refreezing many parts of the course and dissolving everyone’s cornering confidence. Although Tobin didn’t crash, he was cognizant of the inherent dangers of the ice, “...on ice you just keep sliding and hope you hit a rut to stop. You can’t go fast on ice. You have to respect it, otherwise you’re going to crash.”

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Ian Stowe

Tobin rolled into 5th place on the day and has his eyes set on the future, with the Hoogerheide World Cup on January 22nd and Cyclocross World Championships in Luxembourg on January 29th.

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Ian Stowe

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