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The fifth and final race of the 2021 Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro Presented By Maxxis was upon us, and Brian Head, UT was the chosen location. This quaint ski town makes incredible use of the steep, loose, shaley terrain during the summer months to provide some of the scariest riding around—it was without question that this would make a perfect spot to hold a Big Mountain Enduro.
The intention of the season finale was for a two day race, with three stages per day and the first day would include two backcountry stages and one bike park stage. The following day would take place solely in the bike park. The weather had other ideas.
Day one started with a lift ride to the top of the bike park, then a traverse to access the backcountry stages. The first stage went off without a hitch, but as the Pro Men and Woman were to drop stage two, the heavens opened. Stage Two was a 5 mile, 2,130’ decent that took the athletes 8 miles from the base area. The winds were howling, the rain was sideways and the temperatures were dropping rapidly. Once the Pros started to make their way back to base camp, thoroughly soaked, a legitimate concern was expressed for the riders’ safety and the decision was made to halt stage 2.
The third stage was to take place in the bike park but with the weather having shut the lifts down, the organizers were faced with two options: have the competitors ride to the top of the bike park to complete stage three, or cancel the stage. The latter option was chosen, which ended an abbreviated day of racing.
Day two started with clear skies, but high winds still threatened lift service in the bike park. The decision was taken to start the lifts while keeping a close eye on the weather. With that, day two was underway. Organizers reformatted schedule to include the cancelled stage from the previous day, making for a brutal four-stage day.
The pro woman’s field saw a battle between Essence Jasperse, Porsha Murdock and Stefanie McDaniel. McDaniel came out swinging with a win on the first stage and then kept a strong performance on each of the following stages, Murdock took wins on two of the remaining stages to keep the pressure on Jasperse throughout the weekend, but it was Essence Jasperse who took home three stage wins and the overall race win beating out Murdock by 36 seconds with a total time of 44:35.8.
Cody Kelley dominated the pro men’s field by winning three out of the six stages, and finishing the weekend with a total time of 38:11.4, Evan Geankoplis, despite not taking any stage wins, put forth a consistent effort that rewarded him with a second place finish, 37 seconds behind Kelley. Yeti team rider, Warren Kniss rounded out the top three with a valiant effort and two stage wins. Kniss, who started the season out strong, had a couple of mid-season issues, but came to Brian Head ready to put it all out there, and it was fantastic to watch.
And that’s a wrap for the 2021 Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro Presented by Maxxis. The series faced hurdles at every turn, but the organizers managed to put together some amazing races spanning from Missouri to Utah and a couple of places in between. The Big Mountain Enduro has always brought out the best US talent and this season it provided some of the best terrain in the country for racers to compete on.
Congratulations to all the 2021 competitors. We can’t wait to see what the Big Mountain Enduro has in store for next year.