Mountain Bike Nationals is a jam packed week full of surprises. When you’re in the middle of the mountains of West Virginia, at Snowshoe resort, rain becomes a regular. The week started off with some awesome runs with my friends to get relaxed and in the groove of things. On Monday, downhill practice started off with getting to know the lines on the course. There were several big moves on the course to get comfortable on, along with some technical rock gardens. Overall, it was a fantastic course with lots of line options. After downhill practice that day, I got to get some time on the Dual Slalom track and make a few runs to familiarize myself with it. Tuesday was a rough day, as I went down in a rock garden and had deep bruising in my leg. The remainder of the week went well with practice and I had gotten my leg to stop bothering me. Then, on Thursday it was Dual slalom qualifying. Every rider had to take a run on the blue course, and then one run on the red course. I wasn’t sure where I would finish in qualifying as this was only my second Dual Slalom race. I was shocked and also excited when I had found out I qualified 1st. On Friday the rain rolled in and there was a huge debate on whether Dual Slalom finals would be that afternoon or postponed until the next day. So USAC called for a riders meeting and we all took a vote on when to have finals. So, we all decided that finals would be that afternoon. The course was very slick and muddy. On my last practice run down, I took a bad fall (photo above) in a berm which resurfaced my bruised leg. I was having trouble with a lot of pain and was about to quit. Then I remembered to when I was 8 years old watching Danny Way live at the XGames. Danny took a huge fall and was dealing with several injuries, but went back to the top and did another run and won the silver medal. I decided I was going to go back to the top and and give it my all. In between heats I Couldn’t stop thinking about Danny and how determined he was and how the desire to win was more than the pain. I wanted to win, I kept going and kept racing my way through, round after round. Then, I was sitting in the gate for the final 2, and I was able to put down 2 clean runs and take the top spot in the Junior Dual Slalom Championship. The remainder of the weekend was downhill practice and qualifying. I was having more pain in my leg and pushed through qualifying to finish 7th. The track was nasty and relentless. Finally, It was Sunday, and it was time for finals. I was on a great run until the finish line was almost in view. I started to slide and clipped my handlebars on a tree and had on of the longest crashes I’ve ever had. After walking back up and getting my bike, I came down to the finish in 9th place. The entire week was an awesome experience, the people you meet, ride with, and just have a friendly chat with gives me a feeling of being at home with cycling. One thing I have learned throughout my years of racing is no matter which discipline you race, whether its road racing or downhill racing… Every discipline takes training, hard work, and dedication. I am very thankful for the opportunities that my family and sponsors have given me, and look forward to next year for more great racing!