Haley Batten prepares for long winter
Yes, Park City is one of the best places in the world to be a mountain biker. Unfortunately, the trails that make the Park City cycling experience so great are buried under several feet of snow for about half of every year.
But that won’t be too big a problem for PCHS freshman Haley Batten. Fresh off a season in which, as the only freshman riding at the varsity level, she won all five Utah High School Cycling League races, including the state championship, Batten will stay in shape this off-season by grabbing her skis and hitting the trails.
"I’ll do some Nordic season stuff," she said. "I’ll skate ski and classic ski with the Park City Nordic Ski Club. Then I’ll get on the [cycling] trainer later in the winter season."
After winning races at Corner Canyon, Round Valley, Snowbasin, Soldier Hollow and Moab, Batten said she had a blast in her first season competing at the high school level.
"I just wanted to have fun," she said. "It’s my favorite sport, so I knew I could do pretty well. But I wasn’t really sure what to expect."
She’s had plenty of high-level racing experience, though. Batten competes nationally and internationally as a member of the Whole Athlete cycling team and won a national title in the 15-16 age group in August.
However, competing at the high school level presented a few different challenges.
"Racing nationally and internationally, I’d kind of gotten used to racing those girls," she said. "For these girls, I just didn’t know what to expect because I’d never raced them before."
But, she said, she’s thankful for the help her coaches gave her and everything she learned from her older teammates over the course of the season.
"We have awesome coaches like Evan Hyde," she said. "And then we have pro racer Evelyn Dong riding with us too – she also races nationally."
She said she didn’t feel out of place at all with the older racers on the varsity squad.
"It was so cool," she said. "The kids that we had were just awesome. It was really cool to get to ride with that group and compete with them. I just kind of rode with them and would have fun with them. I think, riding with them, we just learned a lot from each other."
Batten noted a friendly rivalry with teammate Brenna Egan, who often finished in second place behind Batten and was another important reason the Park City team won its second-straight league title.
"Throughout the season, I knew she was training to catch me," Batten said. "I was just trying to train to just do my best and stay in the front. There was a rivalry, but we’re still really good friends."
Egan, who also competes on the Park City Nordic Ski Team, holds the decisive edge in winter sports though, Batten added.
"She’s amazing at that," she said. "We’re on the same team, but she’s in a different group. That’s her big sport."
For Batten, a few skiing competitions here and there will keep her having fun while she waits for the snow to melt so she can get to work defending her title.
"It’s hard waiting," she said. "I just try to enjoy the winter while we have it. I hope this season is going to be really good. But yeah, it’s hard to keep the excitement away."
Though she hopes to compete in Europe again this summer and also defend her national championship, Batten’s eyes light up when asked if she plans to compete in the Utah High School Cycling League next fall.
"Oh yeah, for sure," she said. "I’m so excited for that. I can’t wait."
And how about making it a perfect 10-for-10 in varsity victories?
"I hope so, yeah," she said. "That’d be awesome."
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.