The biggest race on the US Mountain Bike calendar brought together the fastest cross-country, downhill, slalom, and enduro racers for the first time ever. Practice for McKenna got underway early Wednesday morning, and it would be a busy week, as McKenna was racing dual slalom as well as downhill. Practice went very well for both the slalom and downhill, and McKenna felt very good, and fast on both courses. The first test of her speed would come Thursday afternoon, as McKenna had dual slalom qualifying. Thirteen girls (women?) were registered for slalom, and McKenna had 2 super solid runs, to slot into the first qualifying spot. Friday afternoon, amateur slalom kicked off before the pros, and McKenna started battling through the brackets in head-to-head competition. McKenna was able to best each opponent, although not always easily, and advance through
to the finals, where she won both runs, and earned the stars and stripes jersey of the 2015 US Dual Slalom National Champion. With the dual slalom race in the history books, McKenna was able to set her sights and focus on the downhill race. She got several real quality practice runs in each day, and come Saturday morning and race time, she was ready to do her best to defend her National Champion title. Starting first in her category, and sprinting off the start box, McKenna was completely determined to give her all in her race run. Her hard work, determination and focus paid off, as she set the fastest time in the Junior Girls 13-14 category, by a substantial 38 seconds. McKenna was able to defend her gold medal from last year, and is the 2015 US Downhill National Champion.
1 156 McKenna MERTEN 378493 Jamul Ca 6:23.097 (1) -
2 158 Morgan FORTIN 332772 Albuquerque, NM 7:01.943 (2) 38.846s
3 159 Lauren BINGHAM 352968 Sandy, UT 7:14.011 (3) 50.914s
4 160 Alicia KNISS 432868 Fremont, CA 7:16.505 (4) 53.408s
5 157 Mya RAMOS 408369 Albuquerque 8:26.745 (5) 2:03.648
McKenna was overjoyed to be able to win National Championships again, and felt like a rockstar as she was interviewed by the commentator, Larry Longo, for half an hour after her race run. But what really made the race, the day, and the whole week that much more special, was sharing the podium, the stage and the limelight with her younger sister, Manning, who posted the fastest time in 10 and under girls, and also earned the gold medal and the stars and stripes jersey of the US Downhill National Champion.
McKenna would like to say a huge thanks to all the people that helped to make this amazing weekend possible. In no particular order, her family (especially Manning for racing with her), her friends and fans. All her sponsors who do so much for her. USA Cycling, Bill Cockroft, and the entire crew at Mammoth. Dave Cullinan for all his hard work on
the slalom course, it was sweet! Elke Butsaert for the practice runs and the coaching. And all the other competitors, it is because of them that this race was so awesome.