Dual-slalom racing was invented in the 1980s by the guys at Mammoth Mountain
to bring some of the flat-out speed and excitement of dual-slalom ski racing to the
mountain bike world. While it ended up becoming a World Cup event for a while, it
has all but disappeared from the mountain bike scene, except for a few locations. The
Sea Otter is one of them, and the dual-slalom race at Sea Otter is the highlight of the
weekend. One reason is that the course is always incredible, with great dirt, perfectly
sculpted berms and a beautiful hill to race on. Another point in the event’s favor is that
it is held on Saturday afternoon, the busiest day of the Otter, and it’s the most exciting
show of the event. What’s more, the race can easily be seen on the big sunlit hill across
from the expo area, roughly 300 yards away. While the dual slalom consistently draws
the biggest crowds of any of the Sea Otter races, it also draws the fastest riders in the
world to compete in it.
The racers who have won the dual slalom at the Sea Otter have been, or have gone
on to become, the top gravity racers in the world. This year’s winner was 18-year-old
Martin Maes of Belgium, and, based on his results, we expect he’ll be one of the major
stars of the sport in the years ahead. That’s usually how things work out here.
One of the best things about this year’s race was the introduction of a Legends
class, where the top racers from 10 and 20 years ago got a chance to do battle again.
The biggest surprise in the class was Shaun Palmer, who left mountain bike racing
close to 20 years ago but came back and looked almost as fast as he did when he was
in his 20s. There’s no doubt about it, the guy can still ride, and the Legends class is
one we hope to see next year as well.
THE UNOFFICIAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF DUAL SLALOM
Duel in the sun: Belgium’s Martin Maes
leads America’s Kirt Voreis during the
Sea Otter’s unofficial world championship of dual-slalom racing.
1. Martin Maes, Belgium
2. Mitch Ropelato, Specialized
3. Bernard Kerr, Pivot
4. Andrew Neethling, Giant
5. Mike Day, GT
1. Jill Kintner, Seattle, WA
2. Anneke Beerten, Specialized
3. Claire Buchar, BC
4. Emilie Siegenthaler, Switzerland
5. Jaime Hill, Pemberton, BC
Face of a champion: GT’s Martin Maes, at
18, was the youngest rider among the top-
25 dual-slalom riders. If he has as long a
career as Brian Lopes, we could be seeing
Maes in this event for another 25 years.
Enduro racing has been all the rage
on the race circuit the last few years,
but it’s a tough event for the crowds to
follow, as the racers ride from one location to the next for the various downhill
stages of the event. We’ll have to see
how the event pans out in the years
ahead. One of the coolest things about
enduro is that it can bring cross-country,
downhill and dual-slalom racers together in one event.
Rising star: Nineteen-year-old Luca Shaw (1) scored the fastest time in the qualifiers, but
topped out at ninth place in the finals. That’s Cody Warren behind him here about to get
knocked out of the first round.