Team Summit launches downhill mountain bike team, local race series
Gravity Team excels locally and nationally in first summer
Thursday night’s Summit Gravity Series dual slalom mountain bike event at the Frisco Adventure Park felt like a home game for the Team Summit Gravity Team downhill mountain bike racers.
The one-of-a-kind dual slalom event was the team’s first race on its own Summit County trails since the youth sports club launched the downhill contingent earlier this year. The team provides 17 athletes — including some who previously were competing individually in downhill mountain biking without a team — the opportunity to be a part of something that previously wasn’t a possibility locally.
The downhill division of Team Summit’s mountain bike programming comes seven years after the sports club launched its cross-country mountain bike team. Rodney Robinson, the club’s director of development, said the club saw increased interest in the downhill variety of the sport in recent years.
Robinson and Team Summit tabbed one of the club’s longtime mountain bike and snowboard coaches, JW Wong, to be the head coach of the Gravity Team, which conducts lift-assisted downhill training at Keystone Resort, Copper Mountain Resort and Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park Resort.
“We do rock gardens, jumps, drops, man-made features, natural features; we ride at slow and high speeds and everything in between,” Wong said.
At Thursday night’s inaugural Summit Gravity Series event, the team’s riders combined with the large, talented local community of youth and adult mountain bikers for a special night of racing. Team Summit downhiller Bodie Heflin won the competitive boys 13-18 division, which featured other Team Summit riders, including Dietrich Schroeder (fourth) and Walker Robinson (fifth). In the boys 12-and-younger division, Team Summit rider Jamison Lee took the trophy.
It capped a strong summer for Team Summit riders, who had nearly a dozen podiums or top-10 finishes at elite regional and national competitions. That includes Wong and his coaching staff leading five Team Summit racers — Heflin, Walker Robinson, Dietrich Schroeder, Mitchell Schroeder and Canyon Caperton — to the National Downhill Series at Mountain Creek Bike Park in New Jersey earlier this summer. Dietrich Schroeder won the 15-16 age division, and Walker Robinson joined him on the podium in third while Heflin raced to seventh place in the 17-18 division.
“It was definitely the hardest course I’ve ridden or raced,” Dietrich Schroeder said.
Among younger riders, Lee was crowned King of the Grommets at the Trestle Gravity Series in Winter Park earlier this summer, where teammates Maddie Haser and Noah Dippenaar finished as runners-up.
Wong credited the parental support as well as top-notch training facilities for the team’s success in their first season. Team Summit parent Melissa Cummings said she felt the team found success so quickly because most of the athletes are used to going downhill fast and working hard each winter on snow with Team Summit.
The Summit Gravity Race Series, and Team Summit’s downhill season, will continue with a pair of timed enduros Aug. 26 and Sept. 2 at Copper Mountain Resort. Beginning next year, Rodney Robinson said Team Summit is exploring potentially expanding the series to up to six races.
As for Thursday’s debut, local event director Jeff Westcott — who conducted the timing — said he enjoyed the racing format, which consisted of differential timing gauging the seconds between when one racer crossed the line and when the opponent subsequently finished. Westcott said the 37-athlete event brought out many of the members of the local mountain biking community who partake in Maverick Sports Promotions’ Summit Mountain Challenge and Mountain Bike Junior League, which feature cross-country races across the county.
On the heels of Thursday’s race, Rodney Robinson and Team Summit are excited to see the team, race series and downhill community grow further.
“We know these can be intro races to a lot of kids in the community who maybe haven’t experienced it yet — that gravity opportunity,” he said.
Learn more about the Summit Gravity Race Series at SummitGravitySeries.eventbrite.com.
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