Adrenaline rush at Canyons
Ryan Summerlin July 22, 2014
The final stage of the Scott Enduro Cup at Canyons Resort on Saturday took longer than expected, but none of the 250 riders in attendance seemed to be in too much of a hurry to leave.
While enjoying the music, food tents, the races and the socializing with fellow riders, the enduro cyclists were nearly unanimous in their praise of the event in Park City, the third of three stops on the Enduro Cup tour.
"It’s a great facility — premium, for sure," Jake Hampton said. "It’s really nice and it’s been put together really well. I can’t complain at all."
"I always really enjoy the courses here," Alisha Gibson agreed. "And they do a great job with organization."
The competition was great as well, according to the riders. With eight total stages — four untimed transition stages and four timed downhill stages — ranging from open to amateur classes, there was something for riders of all abilities.
For Gibson, who competed in the women’s open class, things got off to a rocky start on Saturday morning.
"The first course, I dropped my chain and lost over a minute," she said. "I didn’t wreck, though. Even after losing over a minute, I still came back and finished second in two stages."
Gibson, from Durango, Colo., ended the day in fifth place in the women’s open class, with a total time on the four downhill stages of 23 minutes, 26.355 seconds. Heather Irmiger (21:49.450) won the division. Margaret Gregory (21:53.613) finished second and Ileana Anderson (22:38.954) took third.
In the men’s open class, Mitch Ropelato finished in first place, completing the four downhill stages in 18:39.895. Damien Oton (18:54.338) took second and Aaron Bradford (18:58.605) crossed the finish line in third. Bradford, who also won the Enduro Cup race in Sun Valley in June, finished first in the men’s open class series standings.
Gibson had high praise for the timing system used by the event organizers.
"Timing was phenomenal this year," she said. "They were on the ball. It was crazy how quick after every course they got the times up. We would race, finish a course and, almost instantly, it would be up."
Hampton, who finished 23rd in the men’s amateur 19-29 age group, said even though he had some trouble on the courses, he had a great time competing.
"I did all right," he said. "I’m from Boise, so it’s not the terrain I’m used to. The flow trail was pretty technical — there was some pretty big stuff in there. I’m not used to that, personally. I come from a cross-country background, so I’m not as good at the downhill as some of these guys. I slow up for some of that stuff."
But, he added, he’ll be back next year as he gets used to the enduro-style racing.
"This is my first year doing enduro — I’ve done Sun Valley and then this one," he said. "I like it — it’s a laid-back group of guys and a good group of people to deal with. Everyone is pretty chill."
He said he also enjoys the fun atmosphere.
"You’re not trying to kill yourself on the climbs," he said. "It’s something you can train for a lot less and still be good at it. I’m not having to ride four or five times a week to get my fitness up for a cross-country race. I can come out here and shred the downhill and only have to ride once or twice a week back home."
Both Gibson and Hampton said they’d be back for the 2015 race series.
"I’ve been doing this for quite a while," Gibson said. "I come to have fun and enjoy my friends. It’s great to see the women stepping up their game. It’s great to have that competition."
"Oh yeah, for sure," Hampton said about returning to Canyons next year. "I’ll probably do the whole series next year. It’s definitely a good event."
Finishing first in the men’s amateur 19-29 age group at Canyons was Matt Terry. Second place went to Beau Hennings and third place to Kyle Wehmanen.
The fastest time in the men’s amateur 30-39 group was posted by Zac Brown, followed by Steve LeBlanc and Drew Billington. LeBlanc also topped the series standings on the strength of a 10th place at Moab in May and a third place at Sun Valley in June.
In the men’s 40+ age group, the three fastest times at Canyons were recorded by Sam Fox, Mark Kugel and Geoff Maliska.
In the women’s amateur group, Heather Thiry dominated the Enduro Cup series, finishing first in Moab, Sun Valley and Canyons to take the top spot in the overall standings. Kelsey Olsen finished second at Canyons and Lyndie Saville was third.
In the junior men (ages 14-18) group at Canyons, Josh Snow, Jaren Lockwood and Evan DeGray took the top three spots.
For complete results go to http://endurocupmtb.com/2014-overall-series-results/.