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Photo Gallery: Sea Otter Classic Dual Slalom

Jill Kintner was unflappable and Keegan Wright’s consistency paid off


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As the flags lining the iconic Sea Otter Classic dual slalom course whipped in Monterey’s signature afternoon wind on Saturday, 32 men and 26 women took their turns at the gates vying for the crown in the ‘Unofficial Dual Slalom World Championships.’ 

After nearly three hours of head-to-head competition, Jill Kintner prevailed in the women’s race, taking home her 10th Sea Otter dual slalom win, while Kiwi Keegan Wright’s consistency ultimately paid off in the men’s race.   

Kintner, who first lined up in the gates at this event 20 years ago, won all her heats handily with nary a bobble, showing once again just how unflappable she is on the iconic hill. Wright, who qualified sixth, bested top seed Cody Kelley by a mere fraction of a second, after Kelley, who’d raced perfectly all afternoon, sacrificed precious time when he briefly lost control as he exited the rollers into a right turn during the first run of the finals. He quickly recovered and finished just .421 seconds back on Wright. Kelley, the reigning U.S. Enduro National Champ, returned to top form in the second run and beat Wright by .412, leaving a heartbreaking 9/1000ths of a second on the table and handing Wright his first-ever Sea Otter dual slalom win. 

Racers competed on a new course designed and built by longtime dual slalom competitor Kyle Strait (who also advanced into the final round of 8, even after digging all week). With deep berms, a fast rhythm section, rollers and a flat corner, culminating in a series of five gates and a final straightaway, Strait’s course was technical, but incorporated enough natural terrain that racers had to have true mountain bike skills to fare well. The format consists of two runs for each heat—one on the red course and one on the blue—and the rider with the fastest combined time moves ahead. Dual slalom races are few and far between these days, but the race at the Sea Otter Classic is a decades-long mainstay, and a fan favorite that attracts hordes of rowdy spectators who cheer from either side of the course.  

Scroll on for how it all went down on Saturday. 

Photos by Anthony Smith & Satchel Cronk.

Three parts of the always-slalom-strong SoCal contingent, Luca Cometti, Nik Nestoroff and Kailey Skelton, get a last look at the course before finals.

A lot of legends have started in this gate.

The man behind the 2022 course redesign, and still always a threat on track, Mr. Kyle Strait.

McKenna Merten (left), faced a tough pairing in the round of 8 against a dominant Jill Kintner (right).
Bubba Warre—recently returned from injury and looking to stretch out his afternoon as many rounds as possible.

The full gamut of approaches to a slalom kit.

The updated course had a little bit of everything: big berms, grass turns, and some unique technical rhythm sections.

Bas Van Steenbergen and Cody Kelley are two gated-racing specialists. Kelley (middle) made a habit of getting the jump at go time.

Dante Silva attacking.
Bernard Kerr looked as quick and stylish as ever. He finished in 4th, after head-to-head battles with Cameron Joye, Bubba Warren, Bas Van Steenbergen and Andreas Kolb.

Is there a more classic Sea Otter view?

Nik Nesteroff.

The red lane had an absolute bowl of G-forces here on the inside. Carry good speed out of it, and you were well positioned for a run all the way to the finish line.
Strait carving through his creation.

After all the tech of the upper part of the track, the final straight was basically a battle of horsepower.

Collin Hudson was undoubtedly one of the fastest through the supercross section, and looked to be a favorite for the win…
...until the Laguna Seca loam caught him out during the round of 8, sending Keegan Wright onto the quarterfinals.

DH legend, Sick Mick Hannah flying aboard a new bike. He was one of the very few to try airing this hipped roller corner. It was a risky line, but a faster one too.

Classy and koozie trackside vibes.

Impeccable form from the undisputed queen of Sea Otter Slalom, Jill Kintner.
Cody Kelley knows every millisecond counts, a fact that would come to really sting later in the day.

Riders ready, watch the gate.

Pinkbike Racing’s young Thibaut Laly, who qualified 18th, rolled into the round of 8 after upsetting Hannah, a #2 seed.
Keegan Wright's perfect balance of speed and consistency ultimately led him to the top of the podium.

Jill Kintner seems to have some magic out here; delivering incredible performances year in and year out.
Andreas Kolb battled until the bitter end, and ended in third place after a broken chain during the semi-finals sent Keegan Wright to the finals.

Cody Kelley leans on his support crew after a heartbreaking loss in the finals by a fraction of a second.

Kelley and Wright after a hard-fought battle.
Wright on Keegan!

 

Kintner is all smiles celebrating 10 Sea Otter Dual Slalom wins in a row.

New Yeti teammates Mick Hannah and Keegan Wright show off their new colors.