Thirteen Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes took to Winter Park for the 2022 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships from July 18-24.
The competition included several disciplines with athletes competing in various divisions of downhill, dual slalom, cross country and enduro events.
SSWSC athletes had the opportunity to line up against some of the best mountain bikers in the country and left with great experience and solid performances.
Paul Majors, an assistant coach for the team, was impressed with how the athletes competed against the top-notch talent.
“It truly is a national event,” Majors said. “There were competitors from the East Coast, West Coast, obviously here in the Rockies, so the competition was very, very stiff.”
Coach Tim DeBoom said he knows the SSWSC’s focus is traditionally centered around winter sports, but they wanted to create a competitive environment for the summer mountain bike season.
As a result, he came up with the Devo Program, which is a developmental training program for athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 to train and prepare for the Mountain Bike National Championships.
While the majority of their competitors have been training since January, DeBoom only had a little over two months to prepare his athletes for the biggest stage.
“I kind of had to jumpstart it pretty quick and really start putting in the miles, and a lot of the kids are coming from downhill skiing where they’re not working their aerobic systems over winter as much,” DeBoom said.
The program has proven successful with multiple SSWSC athletes pulling podium and top-10 finishes.
Mary Mclarnon earned a silver medal in the 13- to 14-year-old downhill finals. Anna Rhodes took bronze in the 15-18 cross-country and Torin Knapp finished second in the 13-14 downhill seeding race.
Rhodes, Knapp and Quinn Dressen each had the opportunity to compete in multiple events with Dressen taking on three.
The coaches knew the trails at Winter Park Resort are difficult, and they took advantage of their proximity to Routt County by taking the athletes there a few times to train.
“Winter Park has some pretty challenging cross country trails,” Majors said. “The base sits at roughly 9,000 feet so it’s challenging both at an altitude standpoint and a terrain standpoint, but it’s the best cyclists in the country coming to our home state going head-to-head.”
Beyond their performances, the Devo coaches were most proud of the family of athletes they created and the way the team has supported each other.
They trained hard for several weeks and were rewarded with great finishes at the national championship. This was the first year of a competitive-based development program, and DeBoom said he is excited to keep it going for years to come.
He added that the athletes exceeded their expectations and really pushed themselves to be stronger, faster and better overall.
“I was just really proud of their work throughout the season with the short amount of time we had,” DeBoom said. “They all put in the effort. They didn’t complain for the most part. They did ride a lot more than they were used to and then to go into nationals with most of them not having raced there before. That’s a big environment to be racing, and for me, being a first-year coach with them, I was really proud.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.