Olympian Chloe Woodruff will compete at GoPro Mountain Games | VailDaily.com

Olympian Chloe Woodruff will compete at GoPro Mountain Games

Olympian Chloe Woodruff has confirmed she will compete in the 2018 GoPro Mountain Games on Saturday, June 9.

Woodruff will take on the new cross-country mountain biking course which starts at the base of Golden Peak at 10:45 a.m.

A former Mountain Games competitor who has taken the last 5 years off to compete on the World Cup circuit, Woodruff found an opening in her schedule this season and is excited to make a much-anticipated return.

"I've been bummed to miss out the last few years," she said. "Right now I've got a month at home … so I'm just thrilled for the opportunity to have fun at the games and race hard, too."

Woodruff said the race will take her back to her mountain biking roots.

"This was one of the big races that I had on my calendar each year, when I was just starting to get my foot in the door as an elite racer, trying to learn how to be a professional," she said. "It's a neat experience, my family has always enjoyed watching the bouldering World Cup, and my personal favorite has always been the DockDogs competitions."

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Woodruff's twin sister, Shannon Forsman, is a climber who has competed at the bouldering World Cup at the Mountain Games. Forsman convinced Woodruff to make the trip up to Vail for this year's competition.

"We're making it a family weekend," Woodruff said.

COLORADO NATIVE

Woodruff has competed numerous times in both the road cycling time trail and the cross-country mountain bike race at the Mountain Games. She has had the pleasure of standing on the podium, but a win has always eluded her.

"I'm definitely a different racer now than I was a few years ago," she said. "But the altitude is always a factor in Vail, and there's quite a few Colorado-based racers that I don't get to race that often, so I think it's going to be potentially anyone's day out there."

While Woodruff grew up in Colorado, she now lives a few thousand feet lower than Vail in Prescott, Arizona. She'll arrive by plane on Thursday, June 7, and try to acclimate and familiarize herself with the course on Friday.

Following the race on Saturday, she's looking forward to blending in as a spectator at the event. She thought about attempting the time trial again, but decided against it.

"The effort required for that hill climb is very much a fitness test, especially at that altitude," she said from Arizona on Sunday. "It doesn't really work with my training program."

Following the Mountain Games, Woodruff will travel to Nevada for the Carson City Off-Road race.

"And then it's back to the World Cup," she said.

'One of the two that will get to send three'

Woodruff's World Cup goals include performing well enough to ensure three U.S. women earn spots at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

"First and foremost we have to qualify for those starting positions as a country," she said. "It's not guaranteed that the U.S. is going to earn the maximum number of starting spots."

At the 2016 Olympics, the maximum number of starting spots for any country was two athletes in the cross-country mountain biking competition. Woodruff rode hard to become one of those two, and finished 14th at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"A big goal and a big focus of mine right now is working on consistency and performing at the World Cups, because by doing that we collect points, which are already starting to count into earning our starting spots," she said. "So it's really exciting to see that the U.S. on the women's side is becoming very competitive on the World Cup; that's really motivating and I think we have a really good shot of being one of the two countries that will get to send three women to race."

At the first World Cup of the season, Woodruff finished 12th. She followed that up with a 13th-place finish at the third World Cup on May 27 in Nove Mesto, Czechia.

Regardless of what happens, "it's a neat thing to be a part of that qualification process," she said. "It's an exciting time for the sport, and events like the Mountain Games help to bring a lot of exposure."