Lasse Konecny ends Taylor Shelden’s Summit Mountain Challenge win streak
Former junior leaguer Alisha Scheifley also earns first pro-open victory
A pair of Summit County locals who grew up racing in the Maverick Sports Promotions’ Mountain Bike Junior League won the pro-open men’s and women’s divisions at the Soda Creek Scramble in Keystone Wednesday, July 28.
At the fourth Summit Mountain Challenge race of the seven-event series, Lasse Konecny, 17, and Alisha Scheifley, 26, posted the fastest men’s and women’s times respectively on the classic 17.5-mile Soda Creek course.
Konecny became the first Summit Mountain Challenge racer in three years — since Leland Turner at the 2018 Peaks Trail Time Trial — to defeat Breckenridge star-cyclist Taylor Shelden.
Konecny, of Breckenridge, did so with a time of 1 hour and 10 minutes after taking the lead about 20 minutes into the race in front of Shelden, a former professional cyclist, who completed the course in second place with a time of 1:12:38.
“I definitely see Taylor Shelden as a role model for sure,” Konecny said. “He’s been a legend in the pro circuit and everything. He’s always kind and always has a good story to tell. We’re planning to get some rides in together.”
Konecny’s win at the Soda Creek Scramble was a full-circle moment after he first joined Jeff Westcott’s Mav Sports youth race league at just 6 years old. Konecny said he won his first junior league race at the age of 10 or 11.
The win also comes two and a half weeks ahead of Konecny’s first stab at the Breck Epic, a 6-day and 220-plus-mile stage race through Summit County’s iconic backcountry cycling trails. The Epic will cap a spring and summer season for Konecny during which he’s raced for the California-based Bear National Team against the best cross-country mountain bikers his age domestically and internationally.
“I’ve been training quite a lot, and I’m quite familiar with the stages in the Breck Epic,” Konecny said. “I’m not entirely sure of how it will go, but I’m hoping to stay within the top group and ride my best and just enjoy where my bike takes me. That stage race takes you everywhere, and it’s cool to race a stage race right from my back door.”
Scheifley’s pro-open women’s win Wednesday came in at 1:27:06, just eight seconds ahead of runner-up Clare Hanson (1:27:14). While Konecny has ratcheted up his racing career continuously since starting out at the local junior league, Scheifley returned to the sport recently after racing as a kid from the ages of 6 to 12.
Scheifley said she followed in her mom Mary’s mountain-bike-racing tracks before focusing on a competitive mogul skiing career with Team Summit. After a knee injury last winter sidelined her from skiing, Scheifley hopped back on the saddle and realized she still has a knack for racing.
“I though I’d enter into some races and go from there,” she said.
Kevin Kane makes a final charge toward the finish line during Wednesday’s Soda Creek Scramble mountain bike race in Keystone. | Photo by John Hanson
Scheifley said the Soda Creek Scramble is her favorite race in the series as it’s out of her back door in Keystone. On Wednesday, she treated the race as if it were just another bike ride on her favorite trails, and she never looked back after she took the lead on the grueling climb up the Colorado Trail on West Ridge.
Former professional snowboarder Eric Willett of Breckenridge also picked up a win Wednesday, finishing first place in the competitive sport-men 19-34 division with a time of 1:28:36. Willett, 2010 X Games snowboard slopestyle silver medalist, said for the past few years the Summit Mountain Challenge race series has helped him scratch an itch to continue competing in a high-thrill fashion. After his snowboard career, he’s won four Summit Mountain Challenge races to date.
“It’s funny,” Willett said, “with snowboarding I feel like it doesn’t take that much endurance. I’m not the best climber on a mountain bike; my biggest struggle is climbing. But I love going downhill. It’s like snowboarding: riding through the trees, feeling comfortable going fast downhill.”
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