Young Summit mountain bikers excel at national championships in Winter Park
FRISCO — A dozen riders from Summit County’s youth mountain biking community saw eight top-four finishes at the 2019 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships at Winter Park Resort, which wrapped up on July 28.
Tai-Lee Smith and Lasse Konecny, both of Breckenridge, led the way for the contingent of Summit County locals. Smith finished in second out of 50 riders in the girls 15- to 16-year-old cross-country race and fourth of 39 riders in the girls 11- to 16-year-old short-track cross-country race. Konecny finished as the runner-up out of 49 mountain bikers in the boys 15- to 16-year-old short-track cross-country championship and raced back from behind to earn a fourth-place finish in the 127-rider cross-country title race for boys ages 15 to 16.
Of the dozen Summit riders who competed, about half of them raced this year with Thomas Konecny’s Summit County chapter of the Summit Bike Club, which is a national nonprofit organization based in Park City, Utah. The group included some seasoned Summit County riders — such as Finn Remias, Elsa Bates, Timothy Lunney and Opal Koning — who all excelled in their first year at nationals riding for Summit Bike Club. The climax racing moment for the team came July 26, when they ran around the course cheering Lasse Konecny to his fourth-place finish.
After starting the season training indoors in May, the Summit Bike Club made it a point to scope out the Winter Park national championship course weeks before the race. Lunney and Lasse Konecny agreed living and training at altitude gave the Summit County riders a benefit on the unforgiving, 5-mile Winter Park course that featured 870-feet of elevation gain per lap, including a hill climb at the start of each lap.
“Here in Summit County, you can’t go down. You have to go up before you go down on the trails in Summit,” Lasse Konecny said.
“So we find it easier to recover on the downhills,” Lunney added. “Lasse showed a huge example of this in his cross-country race.”
After struggling and looking “white as a ghost” on the second of his three laps in his cross-country race, Lasse Konecny roared back from sixth place — just outside of the top five podium positions — to pass two riders in the race’s final moments. He did so after spotting the two riders in front of him while climbing the race’s final false summit. Once downhilling from the true summit, he took an alternate line to take fourth.
“Pretty much the whole team, everyone was watching Lasse’s race in the same spot,” Lunney said. “And it was a thriller. We were all over the course reporting where Lasse was, following him.”
That moment may have been the high-point for Summit kids at the national championships, but many results helped the Summit County contingent leave Winter Park feeling great about their prospects heading into the Colorado High School Cycling League’s mountain bike season, which kicks-off Aug. 25 with the Frisco Bay Invitational.
Reflecting on the season, coach Thomas Konecny is happy with how the local mountain bikers progressed during many of their first years competing at nationals.
“I’m so proud to see the job I wanted to do on the season is done because they have an ownership, giving spot-on analysis of the race and knowing what it takes,” he said.
Winter Park Resort, July 23 to 28
Women 15-18 cross-country non-championship preliminary
1. Elsa Bates, Breckenridge, 1:35:01
Girls 15-16 cross-country, category 1/2
2. Tai-Lee Smith, Breckenridge, 56:29:00
Boys 15-16 short-track cross-country 15-16
2. Lasse Konecny, Breckenridge, 27:22
Women 15-18 enduro
3. Jazlyn Smith, Breckenridge, 34:15.4
Boys 15-16 cross-country, category 1/2
4. Lasse Konecny, Breckenridge, 1:11:46
Girls 11-16 short-track cross-country 11-16
4. Tai-Lee Smith, Breckenridge, 20:01
Boys 11-14 short-track cross-country
4. Nico Konecny, Breckenridge, 13:11
Boys 11-12 cross-country non-championship preliminary
4. William Bentley, Breckenridge, 32:38
Boys 13-14 cross-country
8. Nico Konecny, Breckenridge, 44:08:00
Boys 15-18 cross-country non-championship preliminary
20. Timothy Lunney, Dillon, 1:28:27
24. Caleb White, Dillon, 1:30:03
Girls 13-14 cross-country
21. Viola Koning, Breckenridge, 01:08:29
Downhill junior boys 15-16 category 1
21. Bodie Heflin, Frisco, 06:26.35
Boys 11-12 cross-country, category 1/2
23. Carter Niemkiewicz, Breckenridge, 52:18:00
Women 17-18 cross-country
25. Elsa Bates, Breckenridge, 01:35:09
38. Jazlyn Smith, Breckenridge, 01:39:51
46. Opal Koning, Breckenridge, 1:43:44
Boys 17-18 short-track cross-country category 1
30. Finn Remias, Breckenridge, 15:54
Girls 17-18 short-track cross-country
30. Opal Koning, Breckenridge, 15:36
Men 17-18 cross-country
51. Finn Remias, Breckenridge, 1:48:30
86. Timothy Lunney, Dillon, 1:25:27
104. Caleb White, Dillon, 1:28:39
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