Downhill Rockies bike racers drop into CBMR trails

CBMST athletes continue to gain momentum

By Than Acuff 

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) played host to the gravity-fed riders of the mountain biking world as 125 athletes dropped into CBMR’s trails for the third stop of the Downhill Rockies Series this past Friday through Sunday, August 4–6.

It had been a long time since CBMR held any downhill mountain bike races, but with the advent of the Downhill Rockies Series last summer, CBMR was added to the list of stops for the 2023 summer race season.

“On a personal level, it’s always awesome to show off the Crested Butte Bike Park to riders from all over the country,” says Eddy Cohn, head of the Crested Mountain Sports Team (CBMST). “It was amazing to receive such positive feedback about our resort, our trails, our team and community from racers all over the country.”

While a regional downhill races series, the events draw riders from the under-10 category all the way up to pro level riders, and the Crested Butte stop included the hottest rider on the national downhill scene these days, Asa Vermette. Vermette is a mere 16 years old and has already mixed it up with, and beat, the top pro riders in the nation at USA Cycling events. So when riders lined up for practice runs last Friday, Vermette took time to meet the rising young guns, much to the excitement of the CBMST athletes.

“The first highlight of the weekend was during practice on Friday, when the team got the opportunity to ride with a rising star on the national DH scene, Asa Vermette,” says Cohn. “It was a great opportunity for the athletes to do some laps with a truly world class talent, and Asa was very kind and for sure added some inspiration to the team.” 

It’s no secret the area has been in a bit of a drought since mid-June, adding another element to racecourse conditions.

“Course conditions were dry, dusty and loose,” says Cohn. “The rain on Wednesday and Thursday helped a lot, but we had hot and dry weather again Friday through Sunday. The real challenge of putting together a good race run on Avery is the ability to carry speed through turns, and the conditions definitely added to the challenge this weekend.”

The athletes got in their training and seeding runs on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday was race day with the under 10 racers up through Cat II level riders on Avery and then Cat I and pro riders jumping into Avery with a trip through tight trees and over rock drops on the Boulder Mason trail.

For the CBMST athletes, it was a chance to continue putting their summer training to the test in a race environment and check their progression from their previous Downhill Rockies race at Pajarito in New Mexico on July 15–16. In the end, the under-10 CBMST riders stepped onto the podium while the young Cat I athletes continued to mix it up with the faster crowd and gain speed and experience from their earlier races.

“Isaac Jennings and Brooks Miller continued to progress against the stacked field of U18 Cat 1 racers and their times were much closer to the podium compared to the first race down in Pajarito,” says Cohn. “Shyla Field and Louisa Leonard topped the podium for the Girls U10 field. Shilo Stevenson made huge progress since Pajarito and it showed with a podium result on Sunday, the whole team is super proud of him and his progression. Harkin Santurbane was on a heater of a run, but a fall in the final section of the course kept him from the podium in the U10 boys category.”

Cohn and the athletes were happy overall with the first run of downhill racing at CBMR and saw lots of positives on the racecourses as well as surrounding the event.

“Other highlights included seeing a full podium on CB locals in the U10 girls category and the camaraderie amongst the entire team throughout practice and racing,” says Cohn. “This was the first time DH Rockies has come to Crested Butte, and there are always going to be some learning opportunities from a first-time event. If we host this race again next season, we hope to develop a strong marketing partnership with DH Rockies to drive up participation.” 

The CBMST team has plenty more ahead of them as training continues and then they hit the road for another stop on the Downhill Rockies Series.

“In the immediate future the team will get right back into training. Having just hosted some the country’s fastest races, the squad is stoked to have some impressive benchmark times on Avery,” says Cohn. “We will be chasing those times throughout our next couple of weeks of practice. Our next event will be the DH Rockies race in Keystone August 26–27.”

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