Czech native Katerina Nash of the Luna Chix team has two major objectives this year, defending her US Gran Prix of Cyclocross title and racing in the World Cyclocross Championship in her home country.
“This is my first year where I’m doing the World Championships so I want to be ready all the way until January.”
Any extra pressure from having Worlds in the Czech Republic? Not for this three-time Olympian.
“It’s more like how many athletes get to race at home for a World Championship? I’m taking it more as an opportunity to race in front of my family in my home country. I like that little challenge of going home and doing something big at home.” laughed Nash.
In order to be ready for the US cross season and the push to the Worlds, Nash chose to skip the Mountain Bike World Championships this year after racing a full domestic season in the US. “That gave me a good month of solid training to carry on into the cross season as it’s another five months of racing, so you have to put in some training at some point.”
But before the Worlds, there is still a full cross season to be had. Nash will be doing all the USGP races and more. “I’m going to travel to Europe for a World Cup and European Championships, and then I’m going to go back in January, do a couple more World Cups.” And of course, the Czech Republic National Championships.
“Our Nationals actually are taken place at the World Championships course so that will be great also, to get ride on that. It adds a little travel to it but it’s doable, I hope to get some points and I have a decent position.” said Nash.
On USGP. The Luna Chix dominated three of the four weekends of the USGP last year, with Nash winning one race in Kentucky and sweeping the two races in Portland on her way to the overall win. And she expects her team to do it again this year.
“The Luna team has been the strongest one out there, we just hope to put in another solid year and take the series.”
When I asked if she was confident about winning the title again, she said with a laugh “let’s just say that one of the Luna Chix will take it.” One of her biggest competitor is indeed her teammate Georgia Gould.
The same three weekends are left in this year’s season, Kentucky, New Jersey and the finale in Portland, Oregon – each offering it’s own challenges.
Nash considers the Louisville course to be similar to the earlier Madison race where she finished second behind the dominating Katie Compton (Planet Bike). “Kind of fast with a bunch of corners. The time of year that it’s held in Kentucky, it doesn’t seem like the weather plays a huge role there, it was pretty dry and pretty nice last year.”
Then comes New Jersey where Nash finished second to Gould both days last year. “ It can get pretty muddy and a little more challenging, based on the soil out there. We had pretty muddy races last year, with that one you have to expect everything.”
Finally, Portland, the mud, the atmosphere. “I like it, I like the variety of Portland racing, I always look forwards to that one.”
“I don’t worry about Portland being too muddy or too dirty or anything like that. Of course, it’s nicer to finish a race when you’re not covered in mud” added Nash with a laugh, “but it is kind of fun too.”
Tough conditions don’t matter to Nash who credits her long background with ski racing where she had to deal with snow and tough conditions. “I feel that I can do a little bit better at the more challenging courses when you have the elements just messing with people and their minds.”
The Luna team is even stronger this year with the return to competition of two-time Olympian Alison Dunlap. While the duo never raced together in cross, Nash feels that she benefited hugely from racing mountain biking with her.
“I feel like I learned a lot from her when I came into the Luna team as a development rider, having somebody like Alison around, it’s the best team that you can ask for, somebody who is that good and that experienced and on top of it, a great person so it is exciting to have Alison back, we certainly are even stronger this year.”
Nash and her Luna Chix teammates will be racing in this weekend’s USGP of Cyclocross Derby City Cup presented by Papa John’s Pizza in Louisville KY.