Haley Batten wore the grin of a winner when she crossed the finish line of the Olympic women’s cross-country mountain bike race Tuesday morning, even though she finished ninth.
Batten, who grew up in Park City, had been mired around 13th place for the first couple of laps of the five-lap race. She said she found it difficult to pass on the beautiful but technical Izu course that was made all the more difficult when it became slick and muddy following a rainstorm.
“Some of the climbs had some really steep corners that, after this rain, were really slick. I think it was hard to know if I should get off and run or if I should try and ride it,” she said. “Some of the little rocks just threw you off. They’re so steep, so when you’re trying to just give your all and dig in and then all of a sudden you just slide out and you’re just trying to stay on your bike.
“That was definitely the trickiest: trying to stay in the zone in your flow, but also trying to give as much as you can. But sometimes the course just throws a curveball.”
She made her move on the latter laps of the roughly 13-mile race, picking off riders as they grew weary.
Jolanda Neff led a Swiss sweep of the race, followed by Sina Frei and Linda Indergand. Neff was in the lead after finishing the 0.8-mile start loop. Batten said she thought that was key, since passing on the 2.4-mile main course was difficult.
“In a lot of World Cups, there are some designated wide dirt road sections or pavement like we had here at the start and finish that allow you to kind of move up,” Batten said. “And as your other riders kind of blow up or pop, you know, you can kind of move forward if you feel stronger. But here, there were some main rocky features that you obviously can’t pass on. And then, in between those, was really all single tracks, steep climbs, and, you know, single-track descent. So really, they were minimal spots to pass.
“I think that made it really important to know that the start loop’s really important. And there are a couple of key spots that you have your opportunity. And other than that, it’s just, you know, as people slow down, just using your eyes and kind of getting out. Just doing what you can out there.”
Batten finished as the top American in the race. Before her surge, she rode much of the course with Kate Courtney of Marin, Calif., who placed 15th. Erin Huck of Boulder, Colo., was 31st.
Batten, who now lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., said being an Olympian lived up to her dreams.
“I really have no words to explain the Olympics,” she said. “I think coming in, you know it’s your dream, but I think living out something that you only really dream of and it’s in your mind since I was a young kid and to be here and to live every day of that was just incredible. I have no words to explain it. It’s amazing.”
Softball: Anissa Urtez, Mexico fall to Canada in bronze-medal game; USA settles for silver
Anissa Urtez wiped her tears on her stark white Team Mexico jersey. After fighting its way into the bronze-medal game at the Tokyo Olympics, her softball team couldn’t get past Canada late Monday. A 3-2 loss will send Urtez back to Salt Lake City without a medal.
Urtez, who lives in Draper with her fiancee, Team USA’s Amanda Chidester, went 1-for-4 but struck out twice during the game, which was played in drizzle and bluster caused by Tropical Storm Nepartak. She also made an assist.
Canada also beat Mexico, 4-0, in both teams’ opening game of round-robin play. Mexico was making its Olympic debut in softball.
In the gold-medal game a few hours later, Japan avenged its only loss of the pool-play round to beat Team USA, 2-0.
Chidester nearly keyed another American rally. With runners on first and second with one out in the sixth inning, she sent a burner toward third base. The hit bounced off the arm of third-baseman Yu Yamamoto’s but then bounced into the glove of shortstop Mana Atsumi. Atsumi doubled up Michelle Moultrie to get out of the inning, and pitcher Yukiko Ueno sewed up the win with three straight outs in the seventh.
Several Team USA veterans, such as pitchers Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, came out of retirement for the chance to beat Japan, which upset the Americans for the gold in 2008 — the last time the sport was in the Olympics. They got a walk-off win over Japan, 2-1, Sunday when the two undefeated teams met in the final game of pool play, but they couldn’t repeat that result Tuesday in the final.
Swimming: BYU’s Josue Dominguez third in 200M breaststroke heat
BYU swimmer Josue Dominguez placed third in his 200-meter breaststroke heat Tuesday morning but did not advance.
Representing the Dominican Republic, Dominguez finished in 2:17.34. That was 3.93 seconds behind heat winner Bernhard Tyler Christianson of Panama, who also did not advance. Only the swimmers with the top 16 times from the five qualifying heats move on to the semifinals.
Dominguez, who has been in quarantine for having close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, hasn’t gotten too many chances to train while in Tokyo. He said he was just going to try to have fun and enjoy the experience.
Shooting: Lexi Lagan, Nickolaus Mowrer ousted in 10M pistol mixed team qualifier
University of Utah alumnae Lexi Lagan and partner Nickolaus Mowrer failed to advance past the qualification round of the 10-meter air pistol mixed team event Monday evening. They finished 16th out of 20 teams.
Lagan, who broke her foot a month before leaving for Tokyo, also did not make it out of qualifications in the women’s 10-meter pistol event. She has one more competition remaining, the 25-meter air pistol. Precision qualifications for that event start Wednesday at 6 p.m MDT.