Young talent dominates at Swan River Rampage mountain bike race
'The talent is definitely rising in the mountain bike community,' a Team Summit member says
On any given afternoon, the forest and trails surrounding Tiger Road in Breckenridge is a quiet escape. It is common to see an occasional biker or runner training on the trail with the breathtaking backdrop of the Swan River running behind them.
In the late afternoon on Wednesday, July 13, however, the trails were buzzing with mountain bikers for the Breckenridge Recreation Department’s Swan River Rampage mountain bike race.
Like the previous races in the Summit Mountain Challenge race series, the Swan River Rampage saw its fair share of Summit County locals.
The future of mountain biking was also on full display. Junior talent dominated their divisions, and the professional race was spearheaded by teenage talent.
Making up much of the junior talent were athletes from Team Summit. In the junior girls 10-and-under age division, Jade Close took home gold, crossing the finish line in a time of 24 minutes, 32 seconds. Following Close was Annika Krum in second and Erin Walsh of Dillon in third.
Team Summit swept the podium in the junior boys 10-and-under age division. Niall Slavin, Miles Drumwright and Max Swenson worked together throughout the course and were neck and neck until the finish. Slavin was the first to cross the line in a time of 20:03 but was quickly followed by Drumwright, who finished with a time of 20:16. Swenson rounded out the podium in third, clocking a time of 20:37.
The stellar junior-level performances continued in the 11- to 12-year-old age divisions. In the girls race, Siri Krum placed first in a time of 16:58, Marin Little placed second and Elsie Robinson placed third. In the boys race, Summit’s Nico Florio smoothly took turns and powerfully worked up hills to make himself look like an expert mountain biker. Nico Florio blazed across the finish line in a time of 17:37 to take home the gold.
Over a minute later, Cooper Osborn crossed the line to take second place in a time of 18:39. Wilson Anderson placed third.
The Florios continued to have success at the event as Fiona Florio fought for first place in the junior girls’ 13- to 15-year-old age division. Fiona Florio did all she could to win the race but failed to find a way to overpower Olivia Esposigo. Fiona Florio settled for second place with a time of 42:21.
Esposigo finished in first with a time of 41:48, and Chloe King placed third.
Rounding out the junior competition, Isaac York won the boys 13- to 15-year-old age division in a time of 35:04. Landon Laverdiere placed second, and Carter Niemkiewicz finished in third.
Two Summit locals made up the top three in the beginner men’s race with Cam Guy of Breckenridge placing first in a time of 41:59 and Thomas Beveridge of Silverthorne placing second. Taylor Lester of North Carolina placed third in a time of 49:29.
In the women’s sport 16-and-older age division, Hannah Erickson placed first, while Abby Ayers placed second.
Besides the performances from Erickson and Ayers, perhaps the most impressive performance of the race came from Lili Zygulski of Breckenridge. The 16-year-old wasn’t just the youngest finisher in the division. She also placed third among much older talent. Zygulski placed third in a time of 46:40.
Ben Loyal of Breckenridge and Roger Werner of Frisco took first and second, respectively, in the big bike open division. Loyal finished the 15.38-mile course in a time of 1:31:36, and Werner finished in 1:39:05.
The expert and singlespeed women’s division was another race between two Summit locals. Maria Leech of Frisco opened up a lead on Meggie Nanzo of Frisco to finish in first place with a time of 1:34:23. Nanzo placed second in a time of 1:44:01.
In the pro and open division for men, it was young Lasse Konecny of Breckenridge who set the pace for the race. Dressed in his signature blue bibs and racing glasses, Konecny got off to an early lead and held it until the very end, putting nearly a five minute gap on the rest of his competitors.
“It was a really good race and a really tough one too,” Konecny said. “I took the race as more of a nationals prep race. This course mimics Winter Park pretty well. I wanted to really give it a go on the climbs, but I kept it pretty easy on the descents in order to not take any risks.”
The 18-year-old finished the course in a time of 1:06:40 for his second race title in the last week after winning the Firecracker 50 mountain bike race on Monday, July 4.
“I grew up racing here, so it feels great to race in my backyard and deliver a win,” Konecny said. “It motivates me more.”
Dane Gray, 18, of La Canada followed Konecny in second with a time of 1:11:45, and Truett Bennett, 16, of Vail finished in third.
“These kids are the next level for sure,” Konecny said. “They are motivated and they push to new levels in the sport. The talent is definitely rising in the mountain bike community.”
Former professional mountain biker and Summit County local Taylor Shelden finished right off the podium in fourth place in a time of 1:12:03.
Both Lasse and Nico Konecny will compete at the 2022 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Winter Park from July 18-26.
The next Summit Mountain Challenge race will be held on July 27 to the west of Copper Mountain Resort. To sign up for the race, visit BreckenridgeRecreation.com. For full race results from the Swan River Rampage, visit BreckenridgeRecreation.com.
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