Report by Eddie Clark
Inaugural Colorado high school mountain bike race a huge success with 144 racers in attendance.
(Sept 19, 2010) NATHROP, Colo—It was a special day in the history of Colorado mountain biking which saw the first ever high school cycling league mountain bike race take place at the Chalk Creek Ranch in perfect weather.
Designed for success, the race series is comprised of four races taking place during the fall semester, and features individual fields for boys and girl’s varsity, junior varsity, sophomore, and freshman racers. There’s also an overall team competition which requires both boys and girls to participate in, and already has six high schools competing for the overall series. Additionally, teens can race as independents if there are no team opportunities at their school, and smaller schools can pool their resources to race together as a composite team.
Executive Director of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Matt Fritzinger was in attendance to help kick-off the third cycling league in the United States, and was very impressed with the turnout that far exceeded the expected one hundred. “It feels like an established league already with the help of all the parents, volunteers, coaches, and schools. With this kind of support we just can’t go wrong” noted Fritzinger.
Starting at 10am, the Varsity girls took off for 3 laps on a real-deal cross country mountain bike race course that was shortened from the same course used during the second Mountain States Cup race which attracted top US professional mountain bikers from around the country. Each lap was approximately 6.3 miles and featured 500 feet of climbing. It was Boulder High School girls Ellie Atkins who took the varsity win and Kelsey Phinney taking the junior varsity wins. The sophomore/freshman girl’s race was combined together and won by independent racer Laurel Rathbun.
Dry weather lent to sandy and dusty conditions, but there was no shortage of good singletrack for racers to test their skills on. “I was surprised by the quality of the course and the amount of singletrack. Everything about this race from the competition, to the course, and especially getting kids on bikes is awesome” complimented stand-out professional mountain biker Dave Wiens who was in attendance to support the Gunnison high school team, and also lead the boys races out for a neutral start.
After the girls were done racing, the boys started promptly at 12pm with the varsity boys doing 4 laps, junior varsity doing 3 laps and sophomore/freshman boys doing 2 laps. Skyler Trujillo, racing for the Fort Collins composite team, was the fastest varsity rider on the day and took his victory with a time of 1:14:20. The largest and most competitive field was comprised of 46 junior varsity racers, and was won by Christian Kloser of Vail Valley. Salida/Buena Vista composite team racer Isaac Stackonis won the sophomore boys race, and TJ Curry from the Gunnison Cowboys team won the freshman boys race. “Oh yeah, this was super fun. It’s pretty sweet to come here and race with a bunch of high school kids that are also into the same sport”, said Stackonis after the awards ceremony.
In closing, this has been a long awaited race that couldn’t have come at a better time, and with the amount of fun had it’s sure to be a growing success for the mountain biking community and especially the teens of Colorado. As Chad Cheney, the Animas High Ospreys coach said, “It’s here to stay, you get this many high school kids together in one spot having fun, and it’s bound to spread into more schools.”
For more info on Colorado high school racing and results, please visit Colroado High School Cycling League.
More photos here.