Xterra Pan American tour wraps up with Rakita in 3rd, Middaugh 4th
Eagle-Vail athlete participated in four events, while rivals raced in six
The 2019 Xterra Pan American tour wrapped up over the weekend, with EagleVail athlete Josiah Middaugh finishing fourth overall during an abbreviated season.
Middaugh competed in four races on the tour to earn his 332 points, while winner Sam Osborne of New Zealand competed in six races, earning 565 points. Middaugh is in Fiji for the Eco Challenge competition; he missed Saturday’s championship race, the last event on the tour, which took place in Ogden, Utah.
That competition was won by Osborne and Lesley Paterson, of Scotland. For Osborne, it was more than enough needed to capture the tour championship. Second place finisher Karsten Madsen earned 465 points across six races. Samantha Kingsford, also of New Zealand, took the tour championship for the women. Osborne said Kingsford and he had set their sights on this year’s tour championship at the end of last year.
“It’s crazy to think we set this goal way back last year in December before we even had our visas sorted, and now I’m here in Ogden with five wins and one second and the title,” Osborne told organizers after the event.
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The only race Osborne did not win was at Beaver Creek, in July, which was won by Middaugh. In addition to winning that race, Middaugh also won the Xterra Quebec competition in July, which Osborne skipped.
On Saturday, the top finishing American was Branden Rakita, also from Colorado, who finished third and credited Middaugh with his first-ever podium in Utah. The result also helped Rakita earn third place overall on the Pan American tour.
“That was my best result here ever,” Rakita told organizers after the event. “I really need to thank Josiah Middaugh, who has been coaching me to another level. I think this US title is as much his as it is mine, just so grateful for him, and we’re all rooting for him to do well at the Eco Challenge in Fiji where he’s racing now.”
The top finishing woman on the day, Julie Baker, was also coached by Middaugh.
“Like Branden, I need to thank Josiah as well,” she said. “He’s done such a great job preparing me for these tough races.”
Organizers said even though Middaugh wasn’t there, he still notched a win.
“(Middaugh coached) overall amateur champ Jen Razee, and fastest American amateur Mike Dorr, too,” said Trey Garmin with Xterra. “They all say he’s the greatest.”
Xterra competition wraps up for the year on Oct. 26 with the Xterra World Championship in Maui.
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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.