by Jason Hilimire, CU Mountain Bike Coach
Finally wrapping things up after an awesome performance but the University of Colorado-Boulder’s 2nd place finish at Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Angel Fire, NM. The team was dialed, the support staff was awesome and our riders performed. We narrowly missed taking the National championships by 8 points overall!! (results here) We are primed and ready to take down the Ft. Lewis juggernaut next season.
We rolled out to Angel Fire under an impressive snow-storm that would reach the small ski resort. With up to 8 inches of snow hitting the mountain it would make for a difficult weekend for the riders dealing with the cold and mud. Our riders handled the cards they were dealt with and we had them dialed and ready to race.
Each morning the support crew and myself set up the trainers and a propane heater for the ladies who went off in the early morning and for the men who would go in the afternoon (& thus deal with thawing mud). Getting a proper warmup in the cold and muddy conditions was key to the teams success.
Both days 6 women and 4 men in the endurance races killed it. In the XC races, Deidre York took 4th and Claire Bensard 5th, Katie Sodergren 7th, Ashlee Wilson 10th, Abigail Mickey 11th and Ellie Atkins placed 20th. On the men’s side 3 riders cracked the top 10 behind the fastest rider in the US Howard Grotts, Sam Morrison was 8th, Peter O’Donnel 9th, Brad Berger 10th and Kevin Kane 17th.
They lined up again for short track and again gave it everything and pulled off some impressive performances. Claire Bensard cracked the podium with a 4th place finish, while Sodegren was 6th, York 7th, Mickey 8th, Wilson 17th and Atkins 32. On the men’s side Sam Morrison cracked the podium in 4th, O’Donnel was 10th, Kane 16th, Berger 39th.
And as impressive as the Endurance racers were, the gravity gang took home 2 National Championship Jerseys!! The Downhill track on saturday was an icy chute at the top, challenging every riders skill levels and some even using the ‘butt-scoot’ to go downhill!! Joey Schusler took his 4th National Championship and Michael Larsen moved up on his previous finishes with a 3rd, Nick Caron was 12th and Andrew Dean was 31st.
Sunday’s Dual Slalom turned into an 8 hour endurance race, but in the end Joey Schusler would take home his 2nd National Championship Jersey with a dominating performance. He seemed to get faster and faster each time he descend the slick as snot dual course. Caron would finish 6th, Larsen 19th and Dean 36th. On the Women’s side York took home yet another podium with 5th and Bensard was 8th.
In the Omnium; York would finish 2nd and Bensard 3rd.
Overall, the team fought their hardest and gave everything every race. I couldn’t have asked for more from the riders and I am super proud of every single one of them. We had a blast for certain and while we didn’t finish #1 overall, we were certainly #1 in fun and #westolethemarmot !!
Next year we’ll be back with a vengeance and we are ready!
Jason Hilimire CU Mtb Coach