CBMST downhill bike team opens inaugural race season

“This is ground up, built from scratch”

By Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) now offers a downhill bike racing program for the 2023 summer season, and they already took their talents on the road with seven CBMST athletes racing at a Downhill Rockies event at Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Saturday and Sunday, July 15-16.

CBMST has been almost entirely snow sports-centric and seen massive growth throughout the years with more than 200 local kids involved in the CBMST winter programming last year, including some competing on the Junior Freeride circuit and in the alpine ski race program. When Eddy Cohn took over to head the CBMST program prior to the 2022/2023 ski season, he said from the get-go he wanted to bring downhill racing back into the fold.

“When I came on in the fall, I said I’m going to be pushing pretty hard for a downhill biking team,” says Cohn.

Thanks to support for Cohn’s idea from Vail Resorts and Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), the CBMST downhill bike team’s inaugural season started back in June complete with hiring a coach, scheduling three days of training each week all summer long and getting the athletes signed up for races in the Downhill Rockies series, as well as participating in the weekly Pinnacle Race Series.

“This is ground up, built from scratch,” says Cohn. “It’s a product we are able to offer that no one else really can.” 

While Cohn did do much of the work to get the program up and running, he touts the work of Crested Butte Devo over the years as part of the entire process.

“I think Crested Butte Devo is an amazing program and does an amazing job of getting kids on bikes and introducing kids to mountain biking,” says Cohn. “This is an opportunity for kids to race and compete against other kids from other areas and we’re offering support for that journey.”

Since this is the program’s inaugural year, it started with one coach and Cohn was hoping to get six or seven athletes to join. It turned out as news of the program spread organically, interest grew, and Cohn had to limit numbers to 10 athletes with just one coach hired.

Cohn hired Cal Hill to coach the young downhillers, someone who impressed Cohn from his days coaching the Mountain Sports Team at Western.

“I believe sport is a metaphor for life and from the first practice I coached Cal, I never met someone who had such a great attitude and mental game,” says Cohn. “He sees the bigger picture of what it means to be a competitive athlete, he’s wise beyond his years and is doing an amazing job mentoring the kids.” 

Seven of the athletes and their families got their first taste of a downhill race weekend when they traveled to Pajarito and Cohn saw nothing but a positive experience for everyone where it was more than just about results.

“This is the first time they showed up to a new mountain against kids they’ve never raced against,” says Cohn. “It was cool to see not only the kids going through their first downhill race weekend but the parents going through their first downhill bike race weekend. It was a really special weekend.”

While the athletes will continue to participate in the Pinnacle Series, their next race weekend on the Downhill Rockies Series is right here in Crested Butte August 5-6. They will then head to race in Keystone August 26-27 and close out the season with a race in Purgatory September 9-10. Each race attracts all levels and ages of downhill racers from the Pro class down to the 10 and under age group.

“I think it’s a really cool series for where our kids are right now,” says Cohn. “It’s a balance of elite racing with an approachable atmosphere.”

Based on what Cohn has seen so far, he hopes it continues to grow as they look to next summer. 

“I’m really excited, it’s going super well this season,” says Cohn. “I would love to see it grow in the future.” 

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