Rain, mud, slippery trails and even a mechanical issue didn’t stop Durangoans Christopher Blevins and Savilia Blunk from scoring their best finishes this season in a World Cup cross-country Olympic race Sunday in Snowshoe, West Virginia.
Blevins of Specialized Factory Racing got a flat tire early in the race but fought back to reach the podium with a fourth-place finish.
David Valero Serrano won the elite men’s race in 1 hour, 25 minutes and 11 seconds. Titouan Carod finished second (1:25:16), followed by Luca Braidot (1:25:22), Blevins (1:25:22) and Filippo Colombo in fifth (1:25:31).
“What a truly unforgettable day,” Blevins posted on Instagram. “Coming back to the front after that flat and ending up 4th is a result I’m sure proud of, but it’s the way I fought and found flow that I’ll think of when looking back at this one. That’s the feeling worth chasing, and why I do this wild sport.”
On Friday, Blevins also won the elite men’s short track race in Snowshoe. “So special to put it together and win my first WC short track here in Snowshoe,” he posted. “I’ve got a ton of appreciation for the home crowd, my team and this place.”
Blunk, competing for the Orange Seal Off-Road Team, also had a strong short track race, her first on the World Cup.She placed ninth to improve her starting position for Sunday’s cross-country Olympic race, then improved to sixth in Sunday’s elite women’s race, which was her best World Cup finish.
“What a day!” Blunk posted on Instagram. “Absolutely epic conditions today, and P6 for me! Letting this one sink in, but how nice to start from the second row and be in the fight! Racing a WC on home soil just hits different, thanks to everyone who came out and stood in the pouring rain just to scream for us. All this time I was worried about tire choices, but I really should’ve just been considering wet suit or swimsuit.”
Alessandra Keller won the race in 1:24:35, followed by Jenny Rissveds (1:25:12), Anne Terpstra (1:25:25), Mona Mitterwallner (1:25:42), Jolanda Neff (1:26:59) and Blunk (1:27:32) in sixth. Blunk, the current elite women’s national champion, led the USA contingent, but three other U.S. riders also cracked the top 10: Haley Batten (seventh, 1:28:07), Friday’s short track winner, Gwendalyn Gibson (eighth, 1:29:16) and Kate Courtney (10th, 1:29:57).
Ruth Holcomb of the Bear National Team returned to the World Cup for the U23 women’s race but did not finish.