Avon woman rides to top-10 finishes at XTERRA Oak Mountain World Cup
Snyder is currently sitting in fourth in the World Cup series standings
Avon’s Suzie Snyder was hoping to prove the rankings wrong.
Going into the second stop of the inaugural XTERRA World Cup series at Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama last weekend, the five-time XTERRA national champion was seeded fifth.
“I finished fifth in the long course and seventh in the short course,” she reflected. “So, not entirely successful there.”
Maybe she’s being hard on herself, or maybe it’s a case of ‘what could have been.’
The 41-year-old came out of the water in second-place, just six seconds off the tempo set by Samantha Kingsford of New Zealand. On the bike, a European train of Solenne Billouin and eventual winner Alizee Paties of France came blasting by Kingsford and Snyder at the first road section.
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“Once they caught us, we jumped on and road their wheel for a little while and then got dropped,” Snyder said.
“These girls are riding well at the moment, and are definitely setting the bar for ride strength!” Kingsford added in XTERRA’s race report.
Alizee and Billouin, the reigning world champion, battled up front until Billouin suffered a mechanical in the rock garden section of the 32-kilometer bike leg. Meanwhile, Snyder and Kingsford worked together and arrived at the final transition simultaneously. Kingsford would eventually be overtaken by Marta Menditto, who posted the most sensational run split, covering 10-kilometers in 44:08, as Snyder battled cramps and breathing issues.
“I had to pace myself,” she said. “My quads started threatening to cramp early on, so, I was just running as fast as I could to keep those under control. I was feeling pretty good until about 2-and-a-half miles in.”
At that point, her vocal cord dysfunction, which she discovered in 2018, started wreaking havoc.
“Sometimes it’s more of an issue than others and it was pretty bad that day, so I had to stop and walk a few times,” she said. “I had to slow down a lot in order to keep moving forward.”
Kingsford’s New Zealand teammate Lizzie Orchard was able to rally into fourth in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 19 seconds as Snyder rounded out the top five in 2:58.14. Paties (2:47:18), Menditto (2:52:58) and Kingsford (2:53.21) made up the top-3.
On Sunday, Snyder returned for the short-track event, placing seventh in 42:11, just six seconds behind fellow American Lisa Becharas, who sprinted by Snyder in the homestretch. Switzerland’s Loanne Duvoisin (38:30) took a 14-second victory over Paties as Kingsford (39:14) claimed another third.
After the weekend, Snyder is ranked fourth in the XTERRA World Cup series standings. The $340,000 prize purse will be determined by adding athletes’ best four long-course finishes with their best three short-track results, plus placings at XTERRA World Championships in Trentino, Italy, at the end of September.
The series moves to Europe for three straight races — XTERRA European Championship in Namur, Belgium (June 10-11), followed by XTERRA Czech (Aug. 12-13), and XTERRA Germany (Aug. 18-19) — before coming home to Beaver Creek on Aug. 26 for the XTERRA USA Championship. The season culminates in Trentino. Snyder was sixth at the first World Cup in Taiwan on April 15 and plans on attending Belgium, Beaver Creek and the world championships to finish the year.
“I think it’s great. There’s so much talent now in the younger athletes, and so many of them are European, where the sport is actually bigger,” she answered when asked what her thoughts were regarding the new World Cup format.
“I think it’s going to get a lot more exposure for Xterra. And it also gets a lot more of the international field over to the U.S. because they never come to Oak Mountain or Beaver Creek, really.”