Colorado Springs, Colo. (October 16, 2012) — The 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships begin Friday at the Angel Fire Resort in Angel Fire, N.M.
The three-day event opens on Friday with the cross-country races. The men start the racing as the Division I competitors will start at 9 a.m., followed by the Division II contestants at 9:10 a.m. The Division I women’s race begins at noon followed 10 minutes later by the Division II women. The cross-country course changed slightly from the 2011 track as there will be more doubletrack climbing and the course now goes counter clockwise.
Saturday morning’s racing features the short track cross-country. Each race is slated to last 20 minutes plus three laps. The Division I men start the racing at 9 a.m., followed by the Division II men an hour later. The Division I women toe the line at 11 a.m. followed by the Division II women at noon. That afternoon will pit the country’s premiere collegiate downhill racers contesting the 1.5-mile course beginning at 2 p.m.
On Sunday, the event culminates with the dual slalom competition beginning at 9:15 a.m.
Riders to Watch
Two of the top three finishers in the Division I men’s omnium are back in 2012. The winner, Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, N.C./Lees-McRae College), and the fourth-place finisher, Victor Alber (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./University of Florida), in that contest are looking to repeat their podium performances.
Fort Lewis College returns three riders who won different contests at the 2011 event. Skyhawks who won in 2011 and will be back in 2012 are: Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo.) and Lauren Catlin (Fairfax, Calif.), who won the men’s and women’s cross-country races, respectively. Their teammates, Rotem Ishay (Durango, Colo.) and Sarah Sturm (Durango, Colo.) topped the men’s and women’s short track cross-country podiums, respectively, in 2011. Rachel Byus (Argyle, Texas/Lindenwood University) has enjoyed a stellar season. Byus is a rider to keep an eye on in the women’s cross-country and short track cross-country contests after winning every endurance race she started except placing second in the regional contest.
Another marquee defending national champion, Joey Schusler (Boulder, Colo./University of Colorado) will look to retain the two gravity (dual slalom and downhill) collegiate national championships he earned in 2011. A bona fide threat to Schusler is J.D. Swanguen (Columbia, Ky./Lindsey Wilson), who has won five of the seven gravity races he entered in 2012.
Swanguen’s former teammate, Crystal Kalogris (Fort Wayne, Ind./Marian University), topped the women’s dual slalom podium as a student at Lindsey Wilson College in 2011. She’s hoping maintain her mountain magic as a member of Marian University’s team in 2012.
Additionally, last year’s women’s omnium winner, Jill Behlen (Boulder, Colo./University of Wyoming), is back to defend her crowns.
Division II podium possibilities is topped by Eva Wilson (Kensington, N.H./Colorado State University), who topped the women’s Division II omnium podium in 2011. The bronze medalist in the women’s omnium, Elisa Otter (Montpelier, Vt./Union College-KY), is hoping to improve on last year’s finish this year. The Division II ranks features three more defending national champions hoping retain their Stars-and-Stripes jerseys. Rebecca Gross (Lakewood, Colo./University of Denver) is hoping retain her crown in the short track cross-country race while Paul Mayes (Homer, Ill./Michigan Technical University) and Essence Barton(Thousand Oaks, Calif./California Lutheran University) topped the men’s and women’s dual slalom podiums in 2011.
Among the top competitors in the men’s cross-country contests are Trevor DeRuise (Reno, Nev./University of Nevada-Reno) andSteven Pearl (Arcata, Calif./Humboldt State University). Bobby Zidek (Chico, Calif./California State University-Chico) and Justin Graves (Arcata, Calif./Humboldt State University) are solid gravity riders to be considered. Ariana Altier (Chico, Calif./California State University-Chico) has been on a hot streak in gravity races heading into nationals this weekend. Alexis Skarda (Boulder, Colo./Colorado Mesa University) is hoping to defend her position as the top Division II women’s cross-country rider after earning last year’s national title.
Visit the official event webpage of the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships for more information on the event, including the required eligibility form, complete schedule, eligibility and qualification information, course maps,results, photo gallery, omnium standings and more. Additionally, you can follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag#CollNats.
Source: Dave Gaylinn