Swenson wins XC title
Park City resident Keegan Swenson staked his claim as one of the best teenage mountain bikers in the United States last Friday, winning the age 15-16 championship at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals in Granby, Colo.
"It felt great," he said. "I haven’t (won a national title) before, so it was pretty cool."
It was the second time in as many years that the soon-to-be Park City High School junior was the top rider in the 15-16 age group, after beating out his immediate peers to finish third overall in the 2009 15-18 short-track event.
"We knew he was on," said former Young Riders coach Tom Noaker. "We just wanted to make sure he didn’t do too much." Swenson followed a cyclist up a climb on the first of four laps before making his move and building a lead of almost three minutes after the first three laps. He let up on the gas a little to cruise to victory over runner-up Noah Talley of Payson, Utah, by 1:31.
Noaker said the unassuming Swenson was aiming for a win in the cross-country championships all year after taking third in last year’s event and having the memory stuck in his craw.
"I was so close, I just kind of tasted it," Swenson said of last year’s race. "It was right there."
Swenson rides for Cole Sport Racing and will likely compete in the Tour of Utah criterium in downtown Park City if he can get promoted to Category 3 for road racing. In cycling, categories range from 5 (novice) to 1-2 (professionals). Swenson won the state criterium championship for Cat. 4 riders in Salt Lake City on May 8.
"He’s one in very many," Noaker said. "He’s equal parts genetics, determination and desire."
Swenson wasn’t the only Parkite racing with the nation’s best in Granby. His father, Jordan Swenson, took 11th among Cat. 1 cross-country riders ages 50-54. Craig Williams and Dwight Hibdon also raced in men’s masters cross-country races.
Christin McCurdy was fifth in the women’s super D for ages 30-39, fifth in the downhill, and sixth in mountain cross. Kimber Gabryszak was 13th among pro women in the super D.
Naish Ulmer was 35th in the men’s pro downhill and 22nd in the super D, and Nick Van Dine took 20th in the super D. Graham Wagner was second among 30-34 Cat. 1 men, and Quinn Schumacher was 28th among Cat. 2 juniors aged 15-18.
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Gov. Cox announced that the state’s mask mandate in schools would end for the last week of classes. Park City School District officials strongly recommended that students continue to wear masks. South Summit officials anticipated they would not require masks for the final week.