Over the last several years, the Colorado State Mountain Bike Championships have slowly been making their way into the true heart of the Rocky Mountains. In 2020 and 2021, the race was hosted in Castle Rock before the race moved to the Park County town of Bailey in 2022.
This year, the race was hosted on the trails that cut through the slopes of Copper Mountain Resort. Organized by Rattler Racing and sanctioned by USA Cycling, the event took place from Saturday, July 22, to Sunday, July 23, with competitors battling for a state championship title across several categories.
The short-track races kicked off the action on Saturday with athletes slingshotting their way around the half-mile loop course. Every race division did at least five laps of the course, with the men’s pro/open race field completing 15 laps and the women’s pro/open field cycling nine laps.
Leading the pro/open men’s race was Preston Johnson, who finished the race in 20 minutes, 46.2 seconds to beat second-place finisher Jeremy Norris by three seconds. The women’s pro/open race was won by Madigan Munro (20:14.4) with Jennifer Smith placing second (21:28.3) and Allison Crow finishing third (21:49.9).
In the women’s 13- to 14-year-old race, Summit County’s Siri Krum powered her way through the five-lap race in hot pursuit of a title. Krum challenged Laura Carlin and Sage Beetge, but did not have enough to power past them and finished with an honorable third-place time of 12:23.17.
The men’s 13- to 14-year-old race was won by Oliver Waldron in a time of 14:07.76, and Leo Carlin (12:26.08) was named the state champion in the men’s 12-and-under race.
In the adult races, Terol Pursell won the 10-lap men’s 19- to 39-year-old race (22:15). Erin Kelly won the nine-lap women’s 19- to 39-year-old race (22:26.13). Steven Stefko (21:29) won the men’s 40-plus race, while Lisa Hudson was named the victor of the women’s 40-plus race.
The stoke for the two-day event continued into Sunday, when athletes competed in the cross-country races. With the races being much longer than the day before, more Summit County mountain bikers showed up to compete in the finale of the state championship event, aiming to test their fitness on a longer, hilly, mountain bike course.
Races ranged anywhere from 4 to 15 miles, with the younger divisions racing closer to 4 miles and the men’s pro/open race completing closer to 15 miles.
Summit County’s Lucy Greenwood competed hard over the two-lap girls 11- to 12-year-old race. The Summit Middle School student completed the first lap in a conservative time of 15:22.8, but opened up on the final lap to finish with a lap time of 14:31.5.
Greenwood crossed the finish line in a time of 29:54.3, placing third overall behind first-place finisher Nora Shurr (28:32.6) and second-place racer Chelsea McCalmon (28:49.6).
After placing third in the short track race the day before, Krum returned to Copper Mountain and placed second overall in the girls 13- to 14-year-old race. Krum finished the almost 6-mile course in a time of 38:55.3, 2:31 behind first-place finisher Carlin.
It was incoming Summit High School sophomore Finn Brown and junior Aila Harmala who earned state mountain bike championship honors.
Brown and Harmala both compete for the Summit Tigers High School mountain bike team. With experience competing at the high-school level, both were able to float to victories in their respective race divisions.
In the men’s 15- to 16-year-old race, Brown set the pace on lap one of the two-lap, 12 mile, race and did not look back once.
Brown completed the first lap in a time of 34:25.8 and pedaled hard over the second lap of the race to finish the second lap in a time of 36:16.38. Brown faster laps than any other athlete in his race and crossed the finish line in first place with a margin of victory close to 85 seconds.
Brown finished the race in 1:10:42.27, with Page Liggett placing second (1:12:07.44). Incoming Summit High School sophomore Carter Niemkiewicz (1:16:03.36) rounded out the top five finishers.
Unlike Brown, Harmala was challenged throughout the course of the women’s 17-to 18-year-old race. Maggie Reid set a fast pace out of the starting gates, but Harmala hung close and kept herself in contention for the state championship title.
Reid completed the first lap in 42:43.7 with Harmala pacing herself well on the hills and completing her first lap in 43:49.3. Harmala slowly ate up ground over the course of the final lap and was eventually able to pass Reid and move up into first place.
“Honestly, it was a really difficult course,” Harmala said. “It was practically straight up and straight down. I feel like I really recovered on the downhill part of the course and helped me get a second wind for the second lap.”
With a state championship in her sights, Harmala throttled through the final downhill portion of the course and crossed the finish line in a time of 1:30:37.6 to earn a state championship title in front of friends, family and fellow Summit County community members.
“It felt really good,” Harmala said. “The home-court advantage really helped and it felt really good to be in front of everyone I know.”
Meera Khadakker followed Harmala in second (1:32:01.0), while Reid dropped to third (1:43:16.4).
Rounding out the action at the championships was the pro/open men’s and women’s cross-country races. Fresh of his state title performance from the day before, Johnson earned himself another state title, winning the men’s pro/open cross-country race in a time of 1:18:27.2
Norris (1:18:40.0) once again followed in second place, while Brian Smith (1:18:50.6) placed third.
Leading the women’s pro/open field was Amelia Shea (1:17:23.3) who finished the two lap course almost two minutes in front of second-place finisher Clare Hanson (1:19:21.1). Rylie Cahill followed in third (1:21:21.2).
Copper Mountain Resort’s Loryn Roberson (1:42.02.9) placed second in the women’s 30- to 39-year-old race. Mary McCarthy placed first (1:40.09.4).
For a full list of results from the Colorado State High School Mountain Bike Championships, visit RattlerRacing.com.