By Polly Lynn Mikula
KILLINGTON — “The US Open is more than just a race, it’s a big mountain bike party for the whole family featuring vendors, live music, a bonfire and races for all levels,” said Justin Pill, events and sponsorships manager at Killington Resort.
Competitors from around the world will compete at Killington Aug. 1-5 for the Fox US Open of Mountain Biking. The Pro/Am style format offers some of the most challenging and competitive racing in the nation – it’s a proving ground for up-and-coming and elite racers, according to a recent news release. Anyone can enter the Open Class and compete amongst the pros for the $40,000 cash purse! For less elite riders, the Amateur Class, Grom Bomb Downhill and the US Open Adaptive Downhill races will give athletes of all abilities the chance to compete during the US Open weekend.
This is the first time this world-class event has been held in Vermont. Over the past few weeks, the anticipation has built for the event as organizers, trail builders, racers and spectators all prepare for five days of mountain biking.
“We are excited to partner with the resort to kick off the US Open in Vermont,” said Clay Harper, co-founder and event director of the US Open of Mountain Biking. “Everyone here is so amped for mountain biking!”
While the Downhill event is the biggest event of the weekend, the Best Whip Competition is a crowd pleaser and is scheduled right after downhill finals.
Some of the best views of both the downhill race and the mountains themselves (without hiking) are at Killington Peak, accessible by the K-1 Gondola. There will be a designated spectator area near the Peak Lodge.
Spectators can purchase a special US Open Spectator Ticket which will be available Aug. 1-5 only for $15 per person per day (ages 7-79). Children 6 and under and seniors 80+ are free. It’s valid for unlimited K-1 Gondola rides.
The K-1 Gondola will be open Wednesday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (K-1 will be closed 9 a.m.-11 a.m. to general public mountain bikers. Scenic riders and racers only.)
Hiking along the course, however, will be the best way to witness all the action. Some sections of the new downhill course will not be an easy hike, with steep terrain, loose dirt and obstacles along the way, organizers warn. There will be alternate routes for hikers in certain areas. Pick up a course map on race day to see the best viewing areas.
The Best Whip will take place on specially built jumps on Lower Bittersweet – in viewing distance of the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar and concert stage and a short walk from the vendor village. Riders will launch into the air and try to impress a celebrity judge panel with amplitude and style. (Competitors in the Best Whip Competition are selected by invite only.)
From the Vendor Village spectators can also view the finish line and lower section of the downhill race course. Vendors include Fox Racing, GT Bikes, Fox Suspension, Horizon Hobby, Flat Tire Defender, Teton Gravity, Go Pro, Long Trail Brewing and Camp Woodward, which will host autograph sessions with Jake Kinney. The vendor village will be open Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 5-8 p.m. Annie in the Water Duo will perform at Snowshed Umbrella Bar.
Friday, Aug. 3, 4-7 p.m. Chris Pallutto will perform at Snowshed Umbrella Bar.
Saturday, Aug. 4, 4-7 p.m. Duane Carlton will perform at Snowshed Umbrella Bar.
Saturday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m Rustic Overtones will open for Fishbone at Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar (near K-1 Lodge.)
Free spectator parking is available at K-1 Lodge in bays 3 and 4, as well as in Ramshead and Snowshed lots. Free shuttles will be running a loop between Snowshed, Ramshead, K-1 Lodge, and Vale parking lot from 12 p.m. to midnight on Saturday. Pick-up locations are at the courtyard entrance of Snowshed, Ramshead Base Lodge next to Killington Road and below the stairs to the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar at K-1.
Photo by Chris Vanderyajt
Neko Mulally navigates a rocky trail section during a past US Open of Mountain Biking race.