Sun comes out for Eagle Classic | VailDaily.com

Sun comes out for Eagle Classic

SPT Eagle Classic 1 KA 5-25-11

EAGLE – A large yellow orb appeared Wednesday, and it was unfamiliar to most.

But soon the riders in Wednesday’s Eagle Classic, the first installment of the Westin Riverfront Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Race Series, recognized it as the sun and basked in it.

“It was a blast. I was amazed the track dried out,” Edwards’s Brad Ghent said. “The downhills were really fast. It was fun.”

Jay Henry won Round 1 of what will be a season-long battle with Jake Wells in the men’s pro division. In no surprise to anyone, Gretchen Reeves topped the pro women, but Wednesday was a day to ride and enjoy that sun thing.

Welcome to the show

Edwards’ Michaela Curtis had done two short-track events earlier this month, but the Eagle Classic was her first competitive bike race.

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“It was good. It was challenging, for sure,” said Curtis, who raced in the beginner division. “There’s tons of room for improvement, but it was fun. I got a little nervous, but I had pre-ridden the course. It took a lot of the nerves away. I got to the point where I was, “OK, I’m going to have fun. I’m going to work hard and whatever happens, happens.'”

She’ll be back for the Hammer in the Hay on June 8. In the meantime, she was enjoying a beer on the back deck of the Dusty Boot Saloon.

“This is definitely the beginning of a storied bike career,” she joked.

Yoda?

Curtis’s favorite part of the course was the downhill and not surprisingly it was Ghent’s preferred section as well. It’s not a shock, given the Ghent family’s all about downhill.

Brad Ghent skied for the University of Colorado and has worked with the U.S. Ski Team. His wife, Karen, was on the team. And their daughters, Erika, Christa and Abby, are all skiing, competing either for CU or the U.S. Ski Team.

“With the ski racing background and looking a little bit ahead, you can go really fast,” he said.

Ghent was competing in the legends division, a newly-created race for riders 50 and more mature.

“I don’t know what comes after legends,” Ghent joked. “Who was the guy in Star Wars? Yoda. Yodas.”

We’ll see how the Vail Recreation District rules on a Yoda division as the summer progresses. In the meantime, who’s the fastest on skis in the Ghent family?

“Except for me, they’re all equally fast,” Brad put it diplomatically.

Helping out

Silverthorne’s Eric Olson had the unenviable task of doing men’s singlespeed. It was his choice obviously, but it’s still tough.

“It’s a grunt on the two climbs,” Olson said. “You have 3 minutes on the short loop, and then you’ve got Bailey’s, which depends on how you’re geared or how you ride it and traffic, too.”

Olson also had some extra action Wednesday coming to the aid of a rider who fell and took a good bump to the head. With the help of a few others, Olson tended to the racer and warned oncoming riders that there was a man down.

“It’s a small series. Jeff (Lifgren) and I come over here from Summit, so we’ve been chasing each other for years,” Olson said. “So everybody knows each other. We see the same people week after week, so you want to help out.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Division winners

Full results to come in Friday’s paper.

Men’s sport: Christian Kloser

Men’s master sport: Ted Gould

Women’s sport: Maria Pastore

Clydesdale: Jeff Lifgren

Legends: Steve Hill

Women’s vet sport: Meredith Mueller

Men’s beginner: Adam Collins

Women’s beginner: Sarah Wright

Juniors: Clayton Davis

Women’s vet expert: Karley Duran

Men’s pro: Jay Henry

Women’s pro: Gretchen Reeves

Men’s expert: John Klish

Women’s expert: Andi Malboeuf

Men’s vet expert: Steven White

Men’s master expert: Mark Roebke

Men’s singlespeed: Paul Gorbald

Women’s singlespeed: Amy Hermes

Women’s vet expert: Kelly Rohrig