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Collegiate National Championships - Pre-Race Report

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |November 11, 2011 4:37 AM

Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships - Angel Fire, New Mexico

Collegiate National Championships - Pre-Race Report

Written by: Eszter Horanyi

This weekend, collegiate racers from around the country will descend upon Angel Fire, New Mexico, for the 2011 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships. Last held in Angel Fire in 2003, the event will host a cross country on Friday, short track and downhill on Saturday, and racing will conclude with the dual slalom on Sunday.   Individual stars and bars jerseys will be awarded to the winners of the each individual event as well as one for the overall individual omnium, a competition in which a rider has to compete in three of the four races. The overall team omnium will also be a hotly contested battle.

With the base area of Angel Fire sitting at 8,600 feet above sea level, athletes living at altitude will have a distinct advantage. The XC will be a 5.5-mile loop heading straight up the mountain and coming straight back down.  On the women’s division-I (DI) endurance side, racers to watch will be the classic protagonists in the Rocky Mountain Conference, including Katie Sodergren and Diedre York (University of Colorado), Lauren Catlin and Sarah Sturm (Fort Lewis College) and Jill Behlen (University of Wyoming).  The Rocky Mountain party may be disrupted by Erica Zaveta (Lees-McRae) who’s been dominating the women’s field on the east coast.  For division-II (DII), Kara Uhl (Union College) and Eva Wilson (Warren Wilson) have been posting strong results but will have to face off against Rebecca Gross (University of Denver) who has dominated the Rocky Mountain region. 

For DI men, all eyes will be on the Fort Lewis duo of Howard Grotts and Rotem Ishay. Ishay is the reigning collegiate champion while Grotts won this year’s junior national championship. Challenging them will be a strong squad from the University of Colorado, including Kevin Kane and Kerry Werner (Lees-McRae) who has been riding well on the east coast.

For the gravity events, Coleen Pacurariu (Air Force Academy) has been at a level above the rest of the women in the DII conference in the Rockies.  Christin Boyer (School of Mines) will provide a challenge if she is able to race on a recently broken arm.  Diedre York (University of Colorado) has been riding consistently in the gravity events all season but will be challenged by a strong squad from Lindsey Wilson College led by Brittany Bates in the DI category. For the DI men, all eyes will be on Joey Schusler (University of Colorado) to win his fourth collegiate downhill national title.  But on a long rocky course like Angel Fire, anything can happen and many riders are ready to take advantage of any slip the defending champion could make. 

With Fort Lewis College only having a single woman entered in the gravity events, the potential for a DI upset is great.  Teams such as Lees-McRae and University of Colorado are prepared to challenge the Durango, Colorado school for the top step of the team podium.  For DII schools, it’ll come down to a battle between Union College, Warren Wilson College, Western State College of Colorado, and Ripon University.  

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