Jill Kintner takes 2nd at Sea Otter Classic
Buhl marched steadily throughout her rounds, dispatching her competition handily until she met more of a challenge in Jill Kintner, who was returning to gravity mountain biking after dedicating last year to racing Olympic BMX. Buhl seemed to have the first heat of the final won easily, but she still pushed her pedals until the very end to get every possible advantage in time going into heat two. That paid off, when in the second heat, she suffered a mechanical high up the course that caused her to have to ride a little more conservatively the rest of the run. Kintner narrowly took heat two, but not with enough of a margin to overtake the final champion Buhl. Kintner finished second.
“I felt really good today,” said Buhl. “I was confident this year. In years past, I’ve made mental mistakes or crashed and this year, it all worked out.”
Near the top of heat two of the finals, Buhl broke her brake. “It popped and went to the bars, so I was more tentative in the corners until the pedalling section at the end when I just cranked it down.” Buhl pedalled powerfully and smooth in the finishing section of each heat.
“It was my first off-road slalom in over a year and a half,” said Kintner, who won the bronze medal in BMX at the Olympic Games last summer. “It was super loose and the turns were unpredictable, so I was a bit timid. I probably should have attacked more.” In this post-Olympic year, three-time four cross World Champion Kintner plans to stick with racing her mountain bike.
“Any time you get in the gate with Jill, you have to bring your A-game,” said Buhl. “It feels good to win against her. When you do, you know you’ve had a good day at the office, but I’m proud of her, too, as a fellow old school BMXer, current mountain biker and American.”
In the semi-final, Kathy Pruitt defeated Mio Suemasa. Pruitt recovered for the final despite a crash in the earlier rounds during which she hit her head. In heat one of the consolation finals, Pruitt came from behind to nip Suemasa at the line. Her second heat’s win was more convincing, and she claimed third overall, with Suemasa in fourth.
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