Wow, can Seattle homey Jill Kintner get any higher? Following up on her stunning win in the dual slalom last weekend at Whistler, Jill completely crushed her competition in the Giant Slalom yesterday (Friday) above Whistler Village.
When we say “crushed,” we mean smoked. Pummeled. Bashed. Destroyed. Her final margin: A whopping 3.91 seconds over Emmeline Ragot of France.
Kintner had put in some serious practice runs on the scary-fast course earlier in the week, and it showed. At a critical tabletop right before the “tunnel of love” she cleared both sides where other competitors chose to stay grounded. Jill also put time on her foes with fierce pedal wheelies over stutter bumps in the mid-section.
Finally, the girl is just plain smooth. It’s a joy to watch her meld grace and precision with such power into a ballet on wheels that looks as good as it clocks. By the time the final switchbacks came into play, Kintner was so far ahead on all her heats that she pretty much coasted home.
The only caveat on Kintner’s performance was a surprisingly thin field. Long-retired Leigh Donovan showed up for a bronze but was not a factor head-to-head against Jill. Kintner’s arch rival Melissa Buhl might have given her a run for her money had she competed, but having watched Kintner progress this season and compared the two on courses like Whistler’s, we doubt it would have changed the outcome. (Buhl competed in last Sunday’s Garbanzo Downhill but finished last and may have injured herself. Buhly finished 4th in last Saturday’s dual slalom, which Jill also won.)
On her blog Jill tends to dwell more on the misses than the hits, and she’s too modest to crow after victory, so it’s up to us fans to give her a pat on the back for a “Double” to remember.
So completely did Kintner dominate the competition that we at BikeIntelligencer are left to wonder if she’s angling toward the downhill racing scene. Coming from a BMX background, Jill has never been one for the rad of downhill racing. But her skillz keep amping up, especially over the past couple of months, and she showed in yesterday’s competition that she’s not shy about pinning it on the big jumps and “pipeline” berms.
Whistler’s course is less a “big slalom” than a “mini-downhill.” We’ll be watching with interest to see if Jill decides to try her luck with the Big Dance. (Note: Jill tweeted she also got a 2nd in the Air DH competition at Crankworx — another indication?)
On the men’s side, Brian Lopes redeemed last year’s crash-out (he still bronzed) with a decisive win over top qualifier Jared Rando. Lopes “grew” with each advance — he actually lost one of his early runs — and by the end of the day was just hammering the berms while seeming to get stronger in the pedal sections. He complained afterward about being gassed, but this guy is ageless, which is just one reason I wear his shin guards and ride his bike (an Ibis Mojo, although mine’s set up stupid light for XC).
The one disappointment for the GS was a light turnout. Crankworx has set up huge video screens at mid-course and down below, but there were no spectators lining the tapes whatsoever, and the crowd in the village was just a couple or three hundred folks. And pretty quiet ones at that. It was chilly all day even though the sun broke out, and while the parking lots filled to capacity, this isn’t yet the crush of Crankworx past. Lift lines are modest at best, and a lot of prospective race watchers were still on the mountain, riding to the end of light. The word at Crankworx is that the best time to hit the lifts is when there’s racing below. Apparently word has gotten too far out, though, which is a shame. You can ride any time at Whistler. You can see racing like this only once. Let’s hope folks put away the bikes for this afternoon’s Monster Energy Slopestyle event. With the sun out, the jumps have dried out and are perfectly groomed for a “monster” competition. Full report tomorrow.