Kotval claims national championship
It may not have been how exactly how Canadian-born Kirsten Kotval pictured her moment of cycling triumph as she received the stars and stripes jersey at the USA Cycling Road Festival National Championships in Seven Springs, Penn., but it was a great moment all the same. Kotval, a Park City resident rode herself into the cycling history books by winning the Masters National Criterium last week.
"It’s definitely the first time I have had anything with stars and stripes," laughs Kotval.
The road wasn’t an easy one for Kotval. Leading up to the competition, she filled her schedule with local weekend races, weekly criteriums in Salt Lake and weekday training rides. Then there was the arduous decision to make the trek all the way out East for an hour race with no family or friends in tow.
Once she arrived in Pennsylvania, it became clear that inclement weather would become one more factor that she had to figure into the race.
Her worst fears about weather were realized. All day during her race, there were flash floods in the area. The criterium was held on a car racetrack, which meant that rain and oil were coupled on the infield, making maneuvering tricky. Kotval said that there was a minimum of 10 crashes in every competition before her own. The Masters Criterium managed to stay pretty clean until the end of the race, when 10 riders crashed going into the last corner.
"Throughout the race I was just staying focused on not letting anything get away and making sure on the last lap that I had second position . and came out of the last position at the front," Kotval said. "Fortunately, I managed to pull that off."
Once Kotval came into the last corner and knew she had captured the victory, her justification for the journey became clear. She said that the best part was the fact that she didn’t crash.
"I had made spending a lot of money to fly in the night before for an hour race and leaving shortly thereafter, worth it," Kotval said.
Kotval said that as gratifying as the win was, it was a little anticlimactic, because she was in Pennsylvania on her own. With the national races in Deer Valley the last two years, Kotval had become accustomed to the large hometown crowd, but said just winning a national jersey for the team and the sponsors was gratifying enough.
"I think I would have appreciated being back in Park City winning, but being out East where the event attracted a lot more riders made winning a little more meaningful for me," Kotval said.
Kotval races as part of a nine-women team that she put together last year. They are sponsored by Ivory Homes as well as receiving product from Giant, Rudy Project, Squadra, DMT and Craft. They also receive support from Mike Bronn of the Park City Ironman/Hillbilly High Rollers and Back in Motion Chiropractic. When she returned home from the national championship she was showered with calls and e-mails from people in the cycling community.
"It is, after all, a pretty tight community and word travels quickly here," Kotval said.
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