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Ropelato, Kintner take pump track wins

Men's runner-up Loron scores overall title



Mitch Ropelato strung together victories over some of the biggest names in pump track to re-emerge on top of the heap.

The winner of three consecutive Ultimate Pump Track Challenge events from 2010 to 2012 added a fourth to his mantle on Thursday night.

The Utah resident overcame France's Adrien Loron in the final after winning four matchups just to get there. Meanwhile, Tomas Lemoine knocked off Tomas Slavik in the men's small final.

"There were a lot of fast people and a lot of easy spots to make mistakes. I just kept it clean and got to the finish line faster," Ropelato said. "When I first rode the track, I knew it was going good and I was putting down fast laps. Right after qualifying, I was like 'Let's just put some clean runs down and we can get this done.'"

Ropelato credited both Loron and Lemoine for making him truly sweat in the start gate, noting the final was especially tough.

"We were both so solid on the track, so any little small mistake and you were off the back. Neither of us were making mistakes, so it was just dead to the wire," he said.

This year's course was an A-to-B straight shot with berms in the middle after last year was a cloverleaf that sent riders curving around and around. As well, the site moved to Base 2 on Blackcomb Mountain after its normal spot in Whistler Village.

Loron and Lemoine entered the day in a three-way tie with fellow French rider Chaney Guennet for the overall lead, so Loron ended up defending his crown that he earned last year.

"I'm pretty happy to take the title in the end. I would take this one, too, but Mitch was better than me. He didn't make any mistakes, so congrats to him," Loron said.

For his part, Loron enjoyed the track and the new site, but was less enthusiastic on another rule change that saw racers riding bikes without chains to force them to truly pump.

"The track was sick. It was the best ever," he said. "I just didn't like the fact we raced without chains. It was really hard to start and that makes a huge difference. But the track was so good, really fast and really technical."

On the women's side, Bellingham's Jill Kintner also snagged her fourth victory in the event, all of them coming consecutively. The Crankworx star has been unbeatable on the track, as she had the overall title already wrapped up by virtue of having won the first two races in Rotorua, New Zealand and Les Gets, France.

The win capped a packed day for Kintner, as she trained for slalom, placed fifth in the Official Whip-Off World Championships and needed to do well in the time trials just to make the pump track final eight as she made a case for the Queen of Crankworx, which she clinched later in the week.

Kintner noted while she liked the track, to call it a pump track was a bit of a misnomer. But as a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist in BMX, Kintner was well-rounded enough to take what came at her and allowed her to sweep her way to the overall title.

"I like it, but it's not really a pump track. It's more of a BMX track," she said. "I'd like to see a few more turns and a little more techy (technical features). But it was super fun, I loved every minute of it."

Great Britain's Manon Carpenter knocked off Danielle Beecroft for the women's bronze.