The Western Colorado University mountain bike team traveled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for their second competition of the season. With one set of races already under their belts, riders knew where to focus their efforts.
Temperatures dipped below freezing Friday night, and remained chilly well into the morning; making it difficult to warm up and prepare for the cross country race. The relentless 2000ft. climb to start the first lap warmed riders up quickly, though. Despite the course being loose and dusty, Western riders finished strong with a kamikaze downhill to the finish. There were podium placings in multiple divisions, most notably being Sam Van de Velde’s several-minute victory in Men’s B.
Gravity riders enjoyed top to bottom practice runs Saturday in preparation for the downhill race Sunday. Riders also commented on the dusty conditions, coach Eddy Cohn describing the track as “super dusty, several inches deep in some places”. Tight turns and features that would normally be easily ridable became high risk of falling due to the dust.
Saturday evening brought good food, and a rowdy game of foot-down amongst all bike teams camped in the parking lot. The short track riders were up before light on Sunday, braving the cold to prepare for their warm-ups and races. Women’s B was first to go, with Western’s Cassidy Cichowicz, Aspen Wallace, and Tiana Hill sweeping the top three spots and guaranteeing their positions on the nationals team. Men also saw success across multiple divisions, with gravity rider Daniel Fretzel winning Men’s C on a whim, and Peter Noon and Cameron Smith placing 1st and 4th in Men’s A, respectively.
After short track, gravity riders were making their final practice laps before the competition commenced. Crowds gathered at two big wooden drops near the finish area to watch the racers complete their runs. Freshman Ming Goetz convincingly won Women’s A and Daniel Fretzel took his second victory of the day in Men’s A with a two-second lead over second place.
The dusty downhill event concluded the weekend, and after packing up camp the team was back on the road on route to Gunnison via Cottonwood Pass. Another successful weekend brought endless smiles and talk about next weekend’s race in Crested Butte, Western’s home turf. Come out and support your Mountaineers next weekend!