Beaver Creek Blast full of firsts |

Beaver Creek Blast full of firsts

Shane Macomber/ Courtney Gregory rips through the high grass on Bever Creek Mountain during last nights VRD Beaver Creek Challenge.

Nine-year-old Thomas Walsh didn’t have time to stick around for the awards ceremony Wednesday night after winning the Boys 11-and-under division at the Beaver Creek Blast on Beaver Creek Mountain.Walsh had an inline hockey game to play in, so he asked event organizers if he could pick out his prize early after finishing the two-mile race loop in 21 minutes, five seconds. He had good reasoning, too. After racing in all five of the series races in the Vail Recreation District’s Beaver Creek and Vail Mountain Challenge, Walsh finally picked up his first win of the season, beating 10-year-old Brady McDonald of Wolcott (21:08).”I’ve been feeling stronger,” said Walsh, whose previous best was a 3rd-place finish at the Lost Lake Loop race on July 21. ” I was having a little trouble breathing, but I guess I did OK. I’ve had asthma attacks before, but I didn’t have one today.”Walsh said the most technical part of the 2-mile course on the eastern side of the mountain, which was set up for the younger riders, was the fast downhill sections.”I actually accidentally made a kid fall,” Walsh said. “I stopped and helped him. I came down this one hill because I was trying to go slow and he just fell down.”McDonald, who was the early leader, had the win in his sights but was unable to hold off Walsh at the end.”I was in first for a long time and then he just came zooming past me,” McDonald said. “I liked this one. There’s a lot more climbing, and I really like to climb. The downhill was really hard, too.”

Girls 11-and-under winner Kelly Cassidy of Eagle picked up another win in the series with a time of 30:19. The victory was by default, because there were no other girls in the race.That didn’t seem to bother Cassidy, however. She was just happy to be out on the trail on a warm August evening.”It was good,” Cassidy said. “What was challenging was the singletrack that was really straight down. That was really hard.”First timersWalsh wasn’t the only one to pick up his first win Wednesday. Beaver Creek Ski Patroller Tyler Chapman won the Men’s Beginner race beating Jack Hansen of Edwards in an exciting charge to the finish. Andre Lane of Eagle also got his first win in the Boy’s 14-and-under division.The course that the adults raced on was a six mile loop that crawled up a fire road east toward Cinch, then meandered west up through Allie’s Way to Village to Village, then heading down to Lost Buck before the trail wound its way back to the finish line at the bottom of the Centennial Lift. Both Chapman and Hansen were competing in the series for the first time this summer. Hansen had raced in the series in previous years but hadn’t raced competitively following a trio of three knee surgeries that kept him off his bike. Chapman said that he had been itching to race all season, he just never actually got around to it until the series came to his home turf.

“Since I work here, I know the trails really well, which is an advantage to me,” Chapman said. “I’ve definitely kind of wussed out, not doing the other races. I should. This was good, though. It’s brutal, but it’s fun.””Since the (last knee surgery), I’ve just been riding pretty casually all summer,” Hansen said. “Right about now I’m starting to pedal it up a little bit. It feels great. I was on tonight.”Lane won his four-mile, 2-lap race easily, with a time of 30:19. He said he may have misjudged the course in the early-going, but hit his stride in the second lap.”The first two-miles felt a lot longer than a normal two miles,” Lane said. “Then, before you know it, the second lap was done and you’re over. I pushed it a little more the second time.”Singletracks Brennen Stegge, 14, and Griffen Turnipseed, 13, duked it out again Wednesday night in the Junior division, with Stegge picking up the win – his second in a row – over his friend and rival.”On the singletrack section I got stuck in the back and he got behind a fast person,” Turnipseed said. “It was a race of passing people.”14-year-old Natalie Baldwin of Team High Maintenance won the female Juniors race.

“You’ve just got to keep going,” Baldwin said. “Even though it’s really hot and you’re dying, you just can’t give into the heat and how much you hurt. You just have to keep going.”In the Men’s Single Speed competition Mike Skellion maintained his supremacy, winning his fifth race in a row. Skellion is not the series point leader however – that distinction still belongs to second-place finisher Ken Dorst – since Skellion never registered for the series in full. “The course was sweet for single speed,” Dorst said. “Straight up and straight down. Not a whole lot of flat.”Jimi Mortenson won the Men’s Pro-Elite race in 1:17:21, edging out Specialized teammate Jay Henry (1:18:00) and Josiah Middaugh.”I haven’t been racing very well lately, so I just went out hard to see how I’d feel,” Mortenson said. “Jay and Josiah were riding awesome. They pretty much caught up to me up top on every lap. The last lap Jay closed the gap pretty good. He pretty much just let me win. He could’ve won I’m sure, but we’ve got a national this weekend and I’m sure he didn’t want to waste his energy.”Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at

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