Video by Rupert Walker and Ross Measures
Photos by Anthony Smith, David Reddick and Dylan Brown
Words by Brice Minnigh
The Sea Otter Classic 2014 Dual Slalom finals lived up to their annual promise, delivering dramatic performances and the highs and lows that can be expected from one of the world's most spectator-friendly racing formats. Our video and photo gallery showcase the day's defining moments.
The 20-year-old Cody Kelley grappled with leg cramps and two of the world's most proven dual-slalom racers—Brian Lopes and Kyle Strait—to claim a hard-fought victory in the Sea Otter Classic's signature mountain-bike contest.
The final run—pitting Kelley against crowd favorite Kyle Strait, whose comeback victory in 2012 sent a flag-waving crowd into a frenzy—proved to be anti-climactic when Strait went down high on the course, immediately handing Kelley the win.
The 20-year-old Cody Kelley, of Riverton, Utah, staved off charlie horses and two of the world's toughest competitors—Brian Lopes and Kyle Strait—to claim one of the most coveted victories of the Sea Otter Classic.
Run after run, Kelley methodically picked off one opponent after another to claim his hard-earned win.
Number one on the plate turned into number one on the podium for Cody Kelley.
As a wise young man named Kyle Strait famously said two years ago, "Slalom is an American sport." And the exuberant crowd of flag wavers alongside the course proves this year after year.
This race was Kyle Strait's to lose, and fans were right there with him in this bitter moment.
Brian Lopes' fatherhood duties haven't conspired to keep him off the podium. A third-place finish against someone who's half your age is nothing to sniff at….
With one run to go and serious leg cramps to contend with, Kelley looked set to choke. But some course-side massaging from his buddies helped him hang on for his grand finale.
Full speed, wheel on the ground—everything was going Kyle Strait's way until the final run. In dual slalom, one mistake usually means the difference between victory and defeat.
When you're as dominant as Kyle Strait, you can always call shotgun.
Lopes and Logan Binggeli in a dead heat for third place. After this one, it took both of them over a minute to catch their breath.
This year's dual-slalom course featured some big ol' berms. Every year they seem to get deeper and deeper.
Judging from the way Binggeli was riding, you'd never even know he broke his leg at Red Bull Rampage last October.
"Hey Lyle, wait up! I'm just one berm behind you, bro!"
Whether you're a rookie or a seasoned racer, you're always going to have butterflies when you're waiting behind the gate.
Legendary racer Dave Cullinan came off the couch and qualified for the men's pro finals. He was a fan favorite throughout the rounds, but an untimely crash took him out of contention.
Veteran racer Cullinan was still showing the young bucks how to get 'er done.
The last big banks on the course's top section left racers with a view of the awkward, high-speed-ricochet berms that would make or break a winning run—no matter how strong the effort at the top.
Walker Shaw's day ended early, but his Sea Otter had already been made two days earlier, when he'd gone "Fishing With Joe" in the Laguna Seca pond.
If it's a gated race, you can be sure that Brian Lopes will have his hand in the finals.
Though the stock flatbed was running shuttles for all the racers, SRAM had a private shuttle for its athletes.
America. Some people believe you should love it or leave it.
Kelley might still be in braces, but his dual-slalom victory proved he is already part of the Mens Club.