Colorado-press-2019
 
JV Boys Round Corner

JV boys round corner, 2429, Zack Leaf, Littleton; 2321 Lukas Lowe, Ralston Valley.

Hordes of High School Mountain Bikers Head to Howelsen Hill for the Showdown in the Boat

Colorado League North Conference Race #2 Report

Contributed by Matt Muir, edited and produced by Kate Rau
Contact: Kate Rau, Colorado League Director, kate@coloradomtb.org, 720.272.9282

Results
Photos

Steamboat Springs’ Howelsen Hill hosted the second of four 2019 Colorado High School Mountain Bike League North Conference races on September 8th. A swarm of 772 racers registered for the racing at the Emerald Mountain trail system. The warm fall day started off with a win for hometown Freshman Caleb Haack. Haack, and many other Steamboat team members spent Saturday morning helping the race crew set up for Sunday's action.

Howelsen Hill is a crowd favorite adjacent to friendly host Steamboat Springs. Howelsen is notorious for breeding the most Olympian winter athletes in the USA. It has operated since 1915. The Town of Steamboat Springs and Blair Seymour, head coach of the local mountain bike team are integral to the event's success. The 5.4 mile course gains 720 feet per lap. The start rounds through the rodeo grounds with a switchback finish paralleling the ski jump which emulates the culture of Steamboat Springs. A mix of twisty climbs, rolling descents, and double-track sections for passing delivers a fun singletrack, spectator friendly loop.

Malikhi 2

JV riders Nevada Randall (11th place), Lakewood and Malachi Seeling (10th place), Compass Montessori push it in the switchbacks.

Casper Wet Finish

Natrona County JV rider celebrates a valiant effort in the rain.

Mother Nature claimed the proverbial “prix de la combativité” causing the cancellation of the late afternoon JV girls, Sophomore girls, and Freshman girls races due to thunderstorms. Participants all agreed, that at least it did not snow.

Weather was a theme for the day. The South Conference raced simultaneously, with 709 registrants in Leadville at the Cloud City Challenge at Colorado Mountain College where the same categories of girls races could not be held due to Colorado’s trademark afternoon storms unleashing one more time before the end of summer.

These race cancellations were a first in the Colorado League 10-year history. "These decisions do not come lightly. The safety of all stakeholders are considered from volunteers to riders. We have a duty to the land manager and community to minimize the event's impact. Our intention is to provide an exceptional race experience which requires a balance of safety, trail impact, and the actual competition. Coaches were forewarned that the weather may influence the race day during the morning meeting," said Kate Rau, Colorado League Executive Director.

Tattoo Girl Muddy Face

Violet Rainwater, Freshman, Nederland displays the joy of adventure.

Fairview Girl Muddy Face

Arianna Soto, JV, Fairview thrilled to get a ride after her race was cancelled.

The race crew and teams were hopeful that the storm that started during the afternoon JV boys' race would pass over. It become obvious during the girls'staging that race officials would disappoint the 150 girls who were the last wave of the day. Following the initial let down, participants respected the decision as they packed up in the rain.

Nederland Freshman, Violet Rainwater, and five other girls from Fairview ventured out on a ride despite the weather. Coach Normandie Rainwater reported,"The girls had been out in some serious weather for a while. Just as we started to worry Violet rode up. Every inch of her was splattered with mud and she had a huge smile on her face. With camaraderie and the pure joy of riding together the girls turned a disappointing race cancellation into a happy adventure in the wind and rain. They represented several teams and a variety of ages. Definitely what the Colorado League is all about!"

Getting Inked

Monarch rider Joseph Elliott gets inked.

Casper Tattoos

Rachel Katzmann, Varsity Legacy, Kelly Walsh, WY drew all the way to the race.

Smiling tattoo Boulder

Anna Katnik, Varsity, Boulder enjoys the sunshine and the spirit contest.

Conditions on course mirrored those of the first race, mildly dry but nothing compared to recent years’ parched drought stricken soils. Only a quarter inch of chalk dust and braking bumps accumulated leading into the course’s curves and switchbacks.

Temporary tattoos adorned flesh everywhere showing the League’s ongoing commitment to its first rule - FUN. The day’s spirit contest was won by Silver Creek with a strong showing from many teams. Kelly Walsh and Natrona, teams from Casper, Wyoming took advantage of the hours in the car to adorn one another with original art.

Marking the League’s ethic of diversity and inclusion was Boulder’s Harris Cardosi who made the lap cut-off by six seconds in order to go on and complete his second race of the season. Varsity winner Ryan Campbell, Golden briefly gave Cardosi a congratulatory pat for his great race and then continued to crank out his 4th and final lap. Colten Cassavecchia, a Steamboat Freshman, was ecstatic with 2 sub 1 hour laps. Colten and Harris are two of several riders that have autism.

Rule 1 Fun

JV Legacy rider Ethan Kibe, Centaurus knows how to have FUN! Lucky rubber ducky supplied by his girlfriend.

Steamboat coach in boots

Steamboat Coach Mindy Mulliken modified her cowboy boots with cycling cleats.

Behemoth Boulder won the Division I team category followed by its crosstown rival Fairview. Summit snuck by Golden by 185 points for third.

Division II was another internecine contest won by Battle Mountain beating sibling training partner Vail Ski And Snowboard Academy (VSSA) by 59 points followed by Monarch in third and then Rocky Mountain, Steamboat, and Eagle Valley keeping it tightly grouped six teams deep.

The small school Division III prize went to Poudre, then Kelly Walsh of Wyoming, and Fossil Ridge took the third spot on the podium. Podiums and the awards ceremony were collectively cancelled as the clouds poured rain onto the venue.

Silver Creek Feed

Hayden Stearman, JV, Longmont expertly manages the Honey Stinger Feed Zone.

Thanks always go to League sponsors like those who were on hand, Optic Nerve, Western Colorado University, and Fort Lewis College. Adam of Wheat Ridge Cyclery was busy and cheerful all weekend at the SRAM neutral support tent. These and all the League’s partners combine to make it possible to put nearly 1,400 kids on bikes from Taos, New Mexico to Casper, Wyoming; fostering healthy habits in youth and strengthening family bonds one pedal stroke at a time.

The season’s first Toyota Slingshot Awards went to Boulder’s Michaela Thompson who overcooked her pace early in Frisco and fell back to 16th place in the end. In Steamboat, she found her rhythm in order to come in 6th place in Varsity. For the boys, Fairview’s Ethan Wobus went from 144th in Frisco to 18th in Sophomore boys. An improved tire choice helped Wobus ride free of the four flats that plagued him in his first race. The new Yeti Skills Zone was mastered by Jackson Bumgardner of Eagle Valley. Let's rally some girls try the skills course in Granby.

Several alum joined the festive weekend. Bryce Bonner, formerly of Green Mountain served as a course marshal during the afternoon rain. Former Stargate Academy members Jacob Seger and Cameron Mueller led a team pre-ride on Saturday and supported the racers all weekend.

Taylor Johnson

Taylor Johnson, Monarch Legacy rider, shows her Varsity cornering skills.

Sophia Waits Pass

Chloe Fraser, Boulder and Sofia Forney, Independent race to 3rd and 4th in Varsity.

In testament to the League’s gender equality, the girls' Varsity race has developed into one of the most anticipated categories to watch. Legacy seniors Madigan Munro of Boulder and Fairview’s Ada Urist, recently returned from representing the U.S. at Mountain Bike World Championships, shot off the front in the first lap. With one lap to go, Munro turned the screws and put about a minute between her and Urist by the finish at the end of three laps. Following the pair were Sofia Forney (Independent) who took over the Primal Leader’s Jersey and Boulder sophomore Chloe Fraser who upgraded from JV as she continues to race as if she shot out of a cannon. Rocky Mountain’s Olivia Cummins took fifth in the category that sees national class racing several places deep.

The powerful sprint between Taylor Johnson, Monarch, Legacy rider, Harley Blevins, Battle Mountain, and Elsa Johnson, Boulder, Legacy rider was impressive with 0.24 seconds between 10th - 12th.

In the boys race, Golden’s Ryan Campbell battled early with Boulder’s Bjorn Riley, the latter also recently returned from Mountain Bike Worlds. “Bjorn and I rode together but then he crashed on a descent and I was able to ride clean and stay away for the rest of the race,” said Campbell with a nod to the boys Varsity field that produces four laps of full gas racing. Summit’s Lasse Konecny finished second and claimed the Primal Series Leader jersey. Aidan Duffy of Eagle, Frisco winner Peyton Wilkerson of Estes Park, and Oliver Boyd of Fairview rounded out the top five.

Lasse Finished with Dirty Teeth

Lasse Konecny, Summit flashes dirty smile as 2nd place moves him to overall series leader.

Nash Lucas

Nash Lucas, VSSA, put it all out there in Varsity.

Golden Junior and Varsity racer Connor Logan laughed off his hex after being stung by a wasp at the exact same point on the course where he flatted his Freshman year and yard-sailed his Sophomore year. By the end of Logan’s race, half his mouth was swollen shut. All three years, he finished his race. He recounted this year's fiasco, "I know how treacherous that corner is, so I avoided all other racers and slowed down so the corner could not get me. I get through the corner and think I’m safe when a wasp flies into my mouth! I try to spit it out, but it hangs on to my lip, all my blowing did was piss it off and it stings my lip! It’s like a cartoon with me jumping in the air while the Looney Tunes play! At this point, I am riding less than a foot behind another rider over a bumpy twisty trail at 30 mph, blowing, spitting, and panting with a bee stinging my lip! Next year I need to develop a religious ritual to perform on the corner so I can avoid my cursed corner!" Logan battled to 6th with Oliver Boyd, Fairview taking 5th by 0.17 seconds.

Stargate JV Muddy Team Support

JV ride Tyler Hager sprints to the finish with teammates during the rain.

Max Hamilton Steamboat Soph

Steamboat Sophomore Max Hamilton crests dusty climb.

Weather rolled in during the JV boys despite a rain delay and shortened lap count from three to two. The Course Marshals hunkered down as they watched bikes get bogged down in muddy conditions.

JV race Vin Hdzunski, Boulder, holds onto the Primal Leader jersey. Teammate Chuck Jones earns his second Silver of the season. Brian Elander, Dakota Ridge and Tristan Smith, 7220 Laramie, WY sneaks by Monarch Legacy rider Jack Seidler who was 5th. Caleb White, Summit and Garrett Moerhing, Battle Mountain sprinted for 6th and 7th with only 3 seconds between them.

Year after year the Sophomore boys' field is exhilarating. A passel of 142 riders rolled to the line. Jonny Stanizone, Boulder and Mack Dorf, VSSA had a spread of 1 second for Gold and Silver. Ben Ferree, Estes Park, Henry Moore, East and Adam Mote, Golden put the hammer down vying for 3rd through 5th.

Sophomore Boys Start

Freshman boys led the days events under warm sunny skies. With 183 starters and 3 start waves the energy was high. Caleb Haack, told Coach Seymour, "I feel really good this morning," before he rode to Gold. Many mid-pack sprints wowed the throng of fans including one between Austin Salem, East and Spencer Peterson, VSSA with a scant 0.12 seconds for 33rd and 34th. Kade Kreikemeier, Fort Collins, hangs on to the series leader's jersey racing to 4th.

Volunteers are integral to the weekend and course marshals are critical for safety on the course. Roberta Smith is a loyal rover and witnessed a phenomenal act of sportsmanship among the Freshman boys. A Freshman boy who was emotionally distraught at the top of a climb as he was disappointed in his performance. Smith was unable to console him. Two riders from Lakewood and Golden successfully buoyed his spirits. The Lakewood rider stopped to talk to the distraught rider and gave him a pep talk and a pat on the shoulder. The second rider from Golden stopped and may have been his friend. The tears stopped as the Golden rider rode with him the entire rest of the way. This act of kindness spurred tears of joy and proves the depth of camaraderie cultivated by coaches and among teams.

Sophomore boys train

Freshman boys navigate dusty corners under blue morning skies. Gray Barker, 6387 Middle Park; Hayden Camp, 6069 Nederland; Rafer Severson, 6147 Boulder.

Racing resumes on September 22, 2019 with the North Conference competing at the Granby Ranch Roundup and the South Conference inaugurating the new Snowmass Chase course at Snowmass Village.

Full and live results for all categories are always available at HERE. Thanks to RACERITE for many years of professional timing and results.

Mike LeBlanc Dakota Ridge

Dakota Ridge Coach Mike LeBlanc is a veteran sweeper.

Steve McSpadden Venue Breakdown

Steve McSpadden, Assistant Referee helps with take down.

Rainbow

A magical ending to a fun weekend.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS!

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