First national champions crowned in Purgatory – the Durango Herald



The Skyhawks finish in the top 10; double slalom suspended because of the dark

Nathan Colavolpe of Fort Lewis College competes in the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB Championships men’s club cross country race on Friday at the Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride / Durango Herald)

Fort Lewis College and Colorado Mesa University began the US Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships with dominant performances in cross-country races on Friday at Purgatory Resort.

In the women’s college race, the top 8 came from both schools.

In the men’s college race, eight of the top 10 runners were either Skyhawks or Mavericks.

Madigen Munro de Mesa won the National Women’s College Championship in mud and snow in 58 minutes and 29 seconds.

The next two finishers, however, were Skyhawks. Michaela Thompson was second in 1:01:02 and Natalie Quinn was third in 1:01:28. Ruth Holcomb of Fort Lewis was not far behind, passing seventh in 1:03:29.

Natalie Quinn of Fort Lewis College rides the flyby during the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB Championships women’s varsity cross country race on Friday at the Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride / Durango Herald)

“My team has been amazing,” said Holcomb. “To finish second and third is amazing. I am so happy for everyone. I think we got off to a good start to win the general classification (team title).

“It was pretty fun,” said Thompson, despite the rough conditions. “On the second lap, the mud was really sticking and my bike got clogged. Honestly, it was all about powering the pedal.

Michaela Thompson of Fort Lewis College placed second in the US College Mountain Bike Championships women’s varsity cross-country race on Friday at Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride / Durango Herald)

The mud affected the way she rides and she said she had to jump off her bike and push it five or six times during the race.

“Sometimes I felt like I was running more than riding,” said Thompson.

Holcomb said she hopes to finish in the top 5, but is content to finish seventh.

“It was really good, especially in these conditions,” said Holcomb. “It’s so crazy there. It just made the climbs so brutal. Even if we wanted to rest, we had to do everything to make up for it because the climbs were so slippery.

The riders gained about 1000 feet on the climb before a long descent.

“The climb was really tough,” said Thompson. “In the open area, it was super slimy mud; I was just spinning.

For the most part, however, Holcomb said his bike held up in muddy conditions but its lock broke and got stuck in a rigid position.

Other Skyhawks who competed in the women’s race included Madelyn Roberson (12th, 1:08:19), Aleah Austin (13th, 1:08:19) and Olivia Gordon (19th, 1:13:21). Seven of the 51 competitors did not finish the race.

In the men’s varsity race, Brevard College’s Tyler Orschel won the stars and stripes jersey in the three-lap race in 1:19:44. Torbjorn Roed of Mesa finished second 2:11 later.

Tyler Orschell of Brevard College wins the men’s varsity cross country race at the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB Championships on Friday at the Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride / Durango Herald)

The five Skyhawks that raced, however, finished in the top 10, led by Guy Leshem with a fourth place finish. Cobe Freeburn was fifth in 1:26:06, Toby Hassett sixth in 1:27:46, Sam Brown was seventh in 1:27:50 and Nathan Colavolpe was 10th in 1:32:33.

“I think we did pretty well; we were all in the top 10, ”Leshem said. “I hope that we are doing well as a team and that we will win the general classification (team title).”

Guy Leshem of Fort Lewis College placed fourth in the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB Championships men’s varsity cross country race on Friday at Purgatory Resort. (Jerry McBride / Durango Herald)

Leshem got off to a good start, moving from third row to third overall by the time they reached the main track. Behind him, several runners fell in the first straight.

“The start was pretty good, but I paid the price by overtaking so many riders,” said Leshem. Soon after, however, he said he found his rhythm and rode with Colorado Mesa’s Scott Funston for most of the race.

“On the last lap the mud was so thick it was difficult to ride so we had to run,” Leshem said. “He rides cyclocross, so he’s used to it. I managed to close the gap on the descent and almost caught it. … It was so hard. Some sections that I would pedal and barely move. It was wet and slippery.

Brevard has also finished in the top 15 five times. Eric Difolco of Western Colorado University, who finished 12th, was the only rider who placed in the top 15 who was not from Fort Lewis, Mesa or Brevard.

In the women’s club division cross-country race, Mckenzie Steiner of the US Air Force Academy won the championship in 1:08:49, finishing 57 seconds ahead of Anna Yamauchi of California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo. Gabriella Dube of the Colorado School of Mines was third in 1:10:03.

In the men’s club cross-country race, five of the top 10 runners were from the Colorado School of Mines, including champion Keegan Pelton (1:29:00). His teammate, Aidan Duffy, was second in 1:31:42, and Cal-Poly’s Calder Wood was third in 1:32:02.

After the cross-country race, the gravity runners competed in the double slalom, battling one-on-one on a short, bumpy track.

With red and blue courses, the riders ran on either side to see who would advance with the fastest times.

As with cross country races, several runners crashed in the double slalom.

The lights were lined up on the course, but the event was eventually suspended because it was too dark to continue and complete the 200 laps of action.

Several Fort Lewis runners are still in contention for the resumption of the doubles slalom on Saturday. The national short track championships and downhill qualifiers are also scheduled for Saturday. The downhill trials were however canceled on Friday because the course was too icy and the course could therefore be slightly modified.

On Sunday, the championships will end with a team relay and the downhill finals.

The Fort Lewis runners also seemed to appreciate the support. “It’s amazing to have him here on our soil,” Leshem said. “It’s crazy to have all these people cheering us on; it’s an amazing atmosphere.

Full results are available at



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