Kona XC riders Kris Sneddon and Spencer Paxson kicked off the 2014 race season last weekend at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic in Austin, TX. Paxson was in the hunt from the gun and finished a strong 8th place, while Sneddon was just behind in a very respectable 11th place. Both riders navigated the sharp rocky 20-mile course and 85-degree heat aboard their Hei Hei Supreme’s.

Mellow Johnny’s was the first round of the revamped US Cup Series, and all the hype leading up to the kickoff materialized in the form of a well-attended 70-rider elite field, fun race course, excellent event organization, big crowds, live video coverage, cash purse, and overall confirmation that XC racing (at least as it’s known in the US) is on a real upswing. The excitement and renewed motivation was shared amongst racers, promoters, pit crews and fans alike – it seemed that everyone left with positive vibes, that they had just had a taste of what what is sure to be a great season on the country’s biggest stage in XC mountain bike racing.

Next stop for the Kona XC crew is Round 2 of the US Cup at Bonelli Park, CA on March 15th.

More photos here