Breckenridge’s Lasse Konecny refuses to give up at first world cup mountain bike race
Up until two months ago, local mountain bike athlete Lasse Konecny wasn’t sure if he was going to make it to a single starting line during the 2022 mountain biking season.
Unbeknownst to his followers or many of his competitors, Konecny, the older brother of Nico Konecny, was battling several health issues prohibiting him from training for the quickly approaching mountain bike season.
Less than two months ago, Konecny was facing three separate health problems putting his season, which included the USA Cycling National Championships and the Mercedes-Benz Union Cycliste Internationale World Cup, at risk.
“E.coli moved me all out of balance,” Konecny said. “I had a bit of a vitamin D deficiency and high ferritin. I was not where I needed to be exactly health wise.”
Both races provided an opportunity for Konecny to test his limits in a lower pressure race prior to his two biggest races of the season and see where he was at after missing some time due to his health challenges.
After a less than ideal early part of the season, Konecny not only found himself on the starting line of the USA Cycling National Championships in Winter Park but also on his first U23 World Cup starting line in Snowshoe, West Virginia.
In Virgina, Konecny, 18, and his Bear National Team members were met with rain and mud, making for a very challenging mountain bike course.
“Lots of rain, very muddy course and very technical,” Konecny said. “In plain sight, the course does look pretty hard to ride and then the conditions made it twice as difficult and scary.”
Konecny said he was already nervous heading into his first World Cup race in the U23 classification — facing some of the best riders in the country —but a fall during practice a few days before the race only added to his anxiety.
“I had a little crash on Thursday on the course,” Konecny said. “I was kind of banged up, but other than that the event was a crazy experience with spectators and fans.”
Konecny said one of the reasons the course was so challenging to navigate was because of the slick, black ice-like mud which made it easy for wheels to slip out from under the bike’s frame and send riders hurtling into the wet sludge.
“There were three steep sections on the course, and we called those sections the death sections,” Konecny said. “We let go of our brakes and kind of huck and pray.”
Despite the conditions, bruises from falling in practice and his previous health issues, Konecny rose to the occasion at his biggest race this season in the men’s U23 cross-country Olympic mountain bike race on Sunday, July 31.
Konecny used the energy from the crowd to power his way through the 13.3-mile course and crossed the finish line in a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 7 seconds in order to finish in 31st place among a field of 51 competitors.
Konecny was also the eighth American across the line with Riley Bjorn of Vaude and Trek placing second in a time of 1:01:34.
“To build from nothing to a World Cup — and racing my best there — means a lot to me,” Konecny said. “It’s a long journey, and I am super happy to have made it there and raced. I was not expecting to race nationals or the world cup.”
He made sure to soak in the experience once he crossed the finish line.
“There were at least 2,000 or 3,000 spectators just at the finish chanting USA,” Konecny said. “It was a surreal experience. During that last lap, I took myself from racing and soaked it all in.”
Beyond the experience, Konecny was content with where he finished among his competitors. Konecny knows there is more within him in the years to come, and he feels like he has gained confidence from his first U23 world cup competition.
After graduating earlier this spring from Colorado Connections Academy, Konecny plans on taking a gap year in order to assess his opportunities within the sport of mountain biking.
With the world cup behind him, Konecny plans on racing three longer races this season before turning his focus towards next season.
Konecny tentatively plans on racing the Breck Epic six-day stage race next to his brother from Aug. 14-19, the Pikes Peak APEX in September and the 2022 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships, which will take place in October.
Overall, Konecny is thankful for everything this season has taught him and is excited to utilize it throughout the next few mountain biking seasons.
“Don’t give up,” Konecny said of this past season, “There are so many things as an athlete and in life as a whole that will make you want to quit but by taking it day by day, you can crawl out of that hole and make a better version of yourself. With time, you can rebuild yourself up and work towards your goals.”
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