Well, my prediction came true. After a battling through a few more rounds, the final came down to Roberto Chiappa and Ryan Bayley. Neither is at a loss for speed, and the rounds were great to watch. Ultimately though, Chiappa just had too much power, coming over Bayley in two straight rounds to win. He left no room for doubt. I talked with Bayley about it afterwards, and he didn't seem surprised (or disappointed) remarking, "the guy qualified two tenths faster than me, so if I beat him, I'm doing something right." No win this time, but a good show, regardless. Watching those two duke it out, bumping elbows and shoulders through turns 3 and 4, at 40+ mph really made me glad that I'm not a sprinter. Those guys are terrifying.
Ryan Nelman got taken to school by Dan Ellis in the 3rd-4th rounds. Nelman may be getting a lot faster, but he still can't top the international field.
On the women's side of things, Anna Meares lived up to her stripes and accolades, beating Jenny Reed in two rides to win. Her sister Kerry, meanwhile, beat out American masters world champion Liz Reap-Carlson for third.
Meares and Reed probably provided the most interesting rides in the finals, as the men's racing was a pretty straight forward affair, with the fastest qualifier winning in both cases. The same held true for the women, but at least Reed and Meares threw in some drama. During their first ride, the went into trackstands, and the standoff was broken when Reed had to grab the rail, forcing a restart. In the re-ride, they did it again, and while neither touched the wall, it was a brilliant display of handling, with Meares hopping her rear wheel and pedaling in the air to get her feet into a better position. That's one gutsy move, but it may have paid off, as she won the ride.
In the second ride, going down the backstretch on the first lap, Reed chopped Meares down onto the apron. Lucy Tyler had always told me that in a match sprint, "one person is in charge, and the other is the bitch." Not one to take to this sort of thing lightly, Meares immediately chops back up, takes Reed all the way to rail, holds her there for a second, and then lets the race progress. It was awesome. Perhaps it's because she was once again "in charge," or maybe it's that she is scary fast, Meares went on to win the ride, and in turn, take the victory in the tournament.
I shot video of the some of the final rides, but they are all too big to post. I'll try to trim them down and compress them, and get them up in the next few days.