September 18, 2005 The 2005 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships continued on Saturday as Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) put the memories of a disappointing season behind him and Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.) garnered her third major title of the season with victories in the pro mountain cross event.
After missing most of the season because of injuries, the top-seeded Carter bested Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Calif.), Rich Houseman (Golden, Colo.) and Chris Powell (La Jolla, Calif.) in the final to earn the national title.
“I’ve got to say I’m thoroughly having a good time,” a visibly relieved Carter said after the race. “It’s been a rough season. I had a lot of injuries this year and had a lot of things happen with my family and stuff. It just feels good to come out here and ride my bike with my friends and have fun.”
At 35, the 2004 world champion is committed to returning to the upper echelon of world-class mountain cross competition in 2006 and responded to questions about possible retirement, pointing out that he’s currently seeking a three-year pro contract extension. “I race. It’s in my blood,” he said. “I love it. It’s what I do. It’s my passion. I wanted to get this weekend done with and just go home and regroup and try to come out swinging for next year.”
On the women’s side, an all-star field was on hand to contest the season-ending event with Kintner tabbed as the favorite despite a deep pool of riders.
In the past two weeks, Kintner captured a world championship and an overall world cup title only to return stateside this weekend to take care of business back home, earning her second career national mountain cross title.
In the final, the second-seeded Kintner topped Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.), Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.), and defending national champion and number one seed Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.) to take the win and cap off the season with a stars and stripes jersey to go with the rainbow jersey.
“It’s good to have another title,” Kintner commented. “We’ve got to represent America and have a good showing because we have three of the best girls in the world competing here.”
Also on Saturday, the growing discipline of super D saw 230 riders compete in several different skill levels. Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) grabbed a national title, clocking a time of 20 minutes, 11.45 seconds to beat Mike West (Boulder, Colo.) in the men’s race. Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) ticked off a 25:02.05 to beat Jamie Whitmore (Somerset, Calif.) for the women’s title.