Young Riders race to success
When Devry Karz began her final season with the Young Riders Program this year, she wasn’t focusing on competing for herself. Instead, Karz, 18, helped coach the junior cyclists on the race team she had competed on for the past few seasons.
During the end of her final stint with the team, however, Karz decided to compete in some races.
"[She] had good results," said Tom Noaker, coach of the race team.
Karz took third at the NORBA finals and first at a National Mountain Bike Series race in Brian Head, Utah.
While Karz finished out her final season of eligibility on the young race team, other aspiring cyclists were just beginning their careers in the sport.
"[The team was] much different this year," Noaker said. The average age of the kids was almost two years younger than in past years, he said.
Some of the younger individuals on the team saw themselves improve tremendously throughout the season. Keegan Swenson, 12, came to the team as one of the youngest on the Young Riders, and he took third place in a sport 16-and-under NORBA race at Deer Valley. Swenson earned this podium performance while racing against much older competitors, said Noaker. He followed later in the season with other solid performances.
Nathan West, 13, was also very consistent this season, taking home many podium performances. His teammate, Dylan Klaut, 13, overcame several equipment problems including flat tires and broken chains to perform well in the 15-and-under sport division.
"[The younger racers] have a lot of heart," said Noaker, who tries to judge improvement on the team based on overall achievement throughout the season as well as training.
The team used to use the Intermountain Series Cup as a way to gauge performance, but Noaker decided to remove that series from the schedule this year. Sixty percent of the races for the Intermountain Series occur before the kids get out of school, said Noaker. Additionally, because the Series includes teams with both younger racers and adults, his team would be competing against other teams with much older racers.
The team improves every year, said Noaker. "On balance, the team as a whole did quite well when we adjust for age levels," he said.
Next year, Noaker expects more improvement. "I expect the team to continue as a younger team," he said.
The younger riders bring a completely different angle to the team, he said.
Age didn’t deter the young race team from competing this season, though. The kids raced in two of the five NORBA races on the schedule this year, one at Deer Valley and one at Brian Head, Utah.
Youth riders are divided by experience levels, not necessarily age, said Noaker. They range from eight to 12 and 13 years old and are placed in either beginner, intermediate or expert groups.
For more information about the Young Riders Program, visit http://www.insideparkcity.com/young-riders.
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