Local squads sweep top spots in Colorado High School cycling league kickoff
For high school mountain bike racers, the season is off to a strong start.
Racing got underway on Saturday, Aug. 25, with the first meet of the season in Frisco, where the Battle Mountain and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy teams won their divisions, and the Eagle Valley team finished second to Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
Coach Dan Weiland was presently surprised with the results.
“We have 21 kids who have never raced in the high school league before, so that’s pretty cool when you have that many new kids racing and you still do well,” Weiland said.
LARGE LOCAL SQUAD
All of Eagle County’s high school cycling teams train together in Weiland’s program — kids from Vail Mountain School are on Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy’s team, kids from Vail Christian are on Battle Mountain’s team, and kids from Red Canyon are on the Eagle Valley team.
The local squad started as one large team, but as participation grew and rules changed, the team was forced to divide a couple of times. High Schools that have more than five kids participating must form their own team, rather than joining up with another school.
Many kids couldn’t compete in the first meet; the more than 50 kids in the program, Weiland said expect a much larger turnout when the league heads to Steamboat on Sept. 9.for the second meet of the season.
With 37 local racers in total competing on Saturday, more than half were participating in the high school cycling league for the first time.
Weiland said the group’s summer training helped propel them to the good results.
“The ski club runs a program starting in April, where we train for the local town series races, so I think that helped,” Weiland said. “I think we have a lot of talented kids who are finding their way to the program.”
The Colorado High School Cycling League compiles the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity scores for both boys and girls into a total by which the teams are scored, so all athletes have a chance to impact their team’s standings.
DIFFERENT STATE VENUE
On Oct. 6, The Colorado High School Cycling League will visit Eagle, where the Haymaker Classic will represent the fourth of five total races this season. The state championships will be held in Durango on Oct. 20.
Weiland said while the local kids are fortunate to have a race on their home course in Eagle, he has noticed the team performing better at away meets over the years.
“I can’t really explain it, maybe the pressure of riding at home is going to their heads a little,” he said.
The state meet has been in Eagle for the last several years. With it moving to a different venue in 2018, Weiland thinks it could turn out to be a good thing for the team.
“We’ve gotten kind of stagnant at our home venue,” Weiland said. “So we’re excited to go to Durango, despite the long drive.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.