Vail Teva Games: Basagotia goes back-to-back in freeride
VAIL, Colorado- Back-to-back, baby.
There are many Teva Mountain Games athletes who win their events consecutively (see Emily Jackson in the kayak freestyle), but in freeride dual biking?
Tearing down steps, off kickers and over oddly-shaped obstacles in the course of 10-11 seconds on a mountain bike and doing it many times in a single day is not the recipe for consistency in the winner’s circle.
Enter Paul Basagotia of Minden, Nevada, who seemed to have no problem with all the danger, winning Saturday’s freeride finals for the second year in row.
“I’m pretty pumped. Back-to-back,” Basagotia said. “I didn’t think I was going to do it. I’ve been having trouble in speed trials all day. I’m just stoked I came out on top.”
Basagotia held a 0.43-second lead over the Czech Republic’s Petr Hanak after the first heat of the finals. When Hanak had a slight mistake on the bunny hop, or triangle obstacle at the end of the start of the second heat, Basagotia knew he had it. He did a fist pump as he went over the volcano, the final hump-shaped challenge of the course.
Course designer Jeff Lenoski did himself proud with this year’s set-up. The course had its traditional elements like the volcano and the concave obstacle, which has gone by the appellations of fruit bowl, cereal bowl or satellite dish through the years.
But this year, with the course’s location right next to the Vail garage, he started the track with the structure’s steps.
“It starts down those steps. It’s so bumpy my feet flew off in qualifying,” said Aaron Chase of Vernon, New Jersey, who finished third. “And this is uphill. It’s uphill all the way. It’s a powerful course because you have to power down the steps. It’s real tricky down the steps. This is probably the trickiest course (we ride) all year.”
While the rider’s right course was definitely faster – in each heat rider rode both courses with the best total time winning – the track proved fair as the top-seven seeds all advanced through the round of 16. Only No. 9 Eric Lawrenuk scored a mild upset of No. 8 Geoff Gulevich in the first round.
It seemed that if the racer could get through the steps at the start, he could gain time over the bowl and the hump toward the finish.
“The middle of the course was great,” Basagotia said. “The staircase, I’ve been having trouble with it all day. So I’m glad I got the middle course better because that’s where I gained all my speed. That’s the reason I won today.”
As for Hanak, he rode well all day, only to be tripped up by one small obstacle, finishing second.
“It was pretty good,” he said. “I had a little mistake because it’s easy to do on this course. The little bunny hop threw me sideways and that’s it. When you slow down once, you’re done here.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.