Nash off to hot start |

Nash off to hot start

Paul McKenzie/Provided to the SunProfessional mountain bike racer Katerina Nash of Truckee races in the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey this past weekend. Nash, 29, placed first, second and third in her three events.

Katerina Nash is right where she wants to be entering yet another new season of professional mountain bike racing. And that is atop the leaders board.

The 29-year-old Truckee resident and defending NORBA Series Pro-Women Short Track champion took first, second and third in her three events at the annual Sea Otter Classic in Monterey this past weekend.

“I feel like I’m still warming up, but I felt like my legs were ready for racing,” said Nash, who placed as high as second and no lower than eighth competing in four events last year. “I felt comfortable and had a good time racing last weekend.”

Nash, a member of the LUNA Women’s Mountain Bike Team, posted the fastest time (4:12) in Friday’s Time Trial, finishing a hair quicker than teammate Georgia Gould of Missoula, Mont., and four seconds ahead of Willow Koerber of Whistler, British Columbia.

The following day Nash took second in the Short Track ” her favorite event ” behind Katie Compton of Colorado (times have not been posted), and on Sunday she captured third place in the Cross Country with a time of 2:47:53, trailing only Gould (2:43:37) and Kiara Bisaro (2:47:51) of Courtenay, British Columbia.

“It went really well for me,” Nash, who competed in her sixth Sea Otter Classic, said of the weekend of racing. “I’ve been working hard on my endurance, and his past weekend I showed that I’ve improved.”

Described as a “celebration of sport” on its Web site, the Sea Otter Classic is one of the largest bike events in the country, hosting mountain bike races, circuit racing, road racing, BMX and even an adventure race. It annually draws a competitive field of international racers and thousands of spectators.

“It’s really exciting because it’s kind of like a big festival, almost like a trade show,” Nash said. “There’s constantly something going on. It’s a fun event that appeals to everybody.

“It was a little smaller than last year in terms of international teams, but everyone was there from the U.S. and Canada. It was a pretty good field overall.”

While conditions were a bit on the slick side for Saturday’s Short Track as a result of rain, Nash said the trails held up well in comparison to last year, when weeks of rain leading up to the event left the ground saturated and sloppy.

“There were two nice days and only one rainy day, so it was a nice change from last year,” Nash said.

Katerina Nash moved to the United States from the Czech Republic in January of 2000.

After cross-country skiing for a semester in Boulder, Colo., she moved to Truckee when she received a cross-country ski scholarship at University of Nevada, Reno.

Nash skied for her native Czech Republic in two Winter Olympics ” Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002, where her best finishes were 21st in the 30K skate and 19th in the 15K skate, respectively.

She then switched from Nordic skiing to mountain biking when she ran out of college eligibility in 2002 after winning three NCAA ski titles for Nevada.

The transition went smoothly, as Nash ” who had also raced mountain bikes for 10 years ” again earned the chance to represent her native country. This time it was in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where she placed 19th in the Cross Country mountain bike event.

Nash capped last season with a NORBA Series Pro-Women Short Track title and hopes to improve on her Cross Country racing in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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