For the second year in a row, Willow Koerber stood on the podium at Mountain Bike World Championships and received the bronze medal. Her medal was not without some tense moments during the battle in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. On the first lap Willow crashed into a rider who had opted to run down the technical rock wall drop. Post race she commented on the potentially early issue. “My crash on the first lap made me want to prove I could ride the rock section the best.”
She then cleared the section every time, accept on the final lap where she slipped out prior to the turn and had to opt for the alternate line. “My crash on the last lap was a heartbreaker, but I am a dramatic girl and I was motivated to get the medal.”
Willow had to be extra motivated as her crash allowed the small gap she had opened on third and fourth place riders, collapse. In an instant, she went from second to fourth on the final third of the last lap. With one rider powering away on the climb, Willow and a Canadian favorite dueled neck-and-neck heading into the final two turns for the final podium spot. Seizing the opportunity, Willow made an inside pass on a turn and sprinted to the finish. After the medal presentation ceremony, Willow reflected on her accomplishment. “I rode my heart out with my eyes on the prize all day. I fought to the end and made the pass of my life to bring home the bronze.”
Adding to the team’s accolades for the day was Heather Irmiger’s performance. In the process of capturing sixth place and second American overall, Heather managed to post the fastest lap time of the whole event on her fifth and final lap. This finish was also the highest major international result that she has attained, previously scoring eight at the world cup opener in Dalby, UK this spring and tenth at mountain bike worlds last September. Surprising, Heather’s race developed as the competition progressed. She rode near the top-10 most of the race and began closing the gap on several riders. “People were starting to close in on the last lap so I gave it all I had and squeezed every last bit out of my body in hopes of not loosing my eighth position. Not only did I hold those closing girls off but I passed two more riders and clocked the fastest lap of the entire race!”
Sam battled back from a first lap rear flat, that saw him lose ground to forty-first for the first two laps, before he could pedal his way forward. He picked off handful of riders each lap, including a sprint for twentieth place that he won. Schultz was the top-American in the race. “Luckily the team mechanic made the fastest wheel change I have ever witnessed. I got right back into the race and felt really strong. With the help of my Superfly100, I was able to move up throughout the rest of the race. It was great on the course and really felt like a big advantage over the rough, slick track. It was one of the few races that I actually was wishing that we had another lap or two to go.”
Teammate Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski soldiered home in thirty-fourth position. Racing in in his first Under-23 Worlds, Russell Finsterwald finished fifty-second. Stay tuned for more news as the 2010 Subaru-Trek team races around the globe.