Some of the most talented athletes in the world are at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado this weekend for the regular season finale of the XTERRA Cup Series on Saturday.
The XTERRA Mountain Cup is the last of eight stops before the finals at the XTERRA USA Championship in Utah on Sept. 26, and an all-star cast of more than 30 pros will toe the start line including Olympians Michi Weiss, Tyler Butterfield, Rebecca Dussault, Julie Dibens, and Susan Williams.
The men’s race is missing the “Caveman” Conrad Stoltz, who is resting after punishing himself at the Northeast Cup in Vermont last weekend, but is still stacked.
There are a whole bunch of “mountain experts” on this list. Josiah Middaugh (pictured), the top American in XTERRA four of the last five years, lives just a mile from the start line and helped design the course so he has to be considered the favorite. Middaugh won the last race he entered at the South Central Cup in Arkansas.
Three-time XTERRA European Tour Champ Nico Lebrun won his last race as well, just a few days ago at the Northeast Cup, and his climbing skills have been compared to that of a mountain goat (not just any mountain goat, but the “chamois” that reside in the French Alps where Nico grew up). The climbing part is critical because there is a whopping 4,000+ feet of it on this course.
Mike Vine is another guy that consistently wins at altitude/mountain races (like at nationals last year in the Sierra’s). Seth Wealing is coming off his best race of the season, out-sprinting Stoltz to take 2nd at the NE Cup on Sunday, and seems to have finally figured everything out. Brian Smith is another local (Colorado)?guy that has to be feeling lucky after surviving a run-in with an Elk (the car won and no humans or dog were seriously injured).
Sam Gardner from the UK is in town for this one, and Michi Weiss can ride, as proof he was 2nd at the XTERRA World Champs in Maui last year by just 36 seconds (only a young kid from Spain Ruben Ruzafa kept him from the crown). And what about this Tyler Butterfield from Bermuda - the youngest Olympian on the 2004 triathlon start list - who nearly took down XTERRA regular Branden Rakita at the XTERRA Buffalo Creek points series race? Of course, Rakita won that race, and will be in the mix here too.
It’s a stacked men’s field for sure – a bunch of guys that can climb without fear of altitude – and it will be fun to watch. It will also be interesting to see who’s in the best shape right. Just like a long regular season in any sport (baseball, football, hockey) by the time an athlete is this far into the season nobody is at 100%.
2 - Josiah Middaugh - 30, Vail, Colorado
3 - Nicolas Lebrun - 35, Digne-les-Bains, France
5 - Mike Vine - 35, Victoria, B.C., Canada
6 - Seth Wealing - 30, Boulder, Colorado
8 - Branden Rakita - 28, Manitou Springs, Colorado
9 - Brian Smith - 33, Gunnison, Colorado
10 - Will Kelsay - 27, Boulder, Colorado
11 - Matt Boobar - 36, Stratton Mountain, Vermont
12 - Cody Waite - 30, Lakewood, Colorado
14 - Ryan DeCook - 28, Rochester, Michigan
15 - Ryan Ignatz - 30, Boulder, Colorado
16 - Sam Gardner - 34, Surrey, Great Britain
NR - Jimmy Archer - 36, Boulder, Colorado
NR - Christopher Bagg - 37, Portland, Oregon
NR - Tyler Butterfield - 23, Pembroke Parish, Bermuda
NR?- Joe McDaniel - 26, Colorado Springs, Colorado
NR - Michi Weiss - 28, Vienna, Austria
Cup Series leader Melanie McQuaid raced the first seven Cup Series events but will sit this one out, however, two-time and defending XTERRA World Champ Julie Dibens (pictured) will be on hand to give Danelle Kabush, Shonny Vanlandingham, and Renata Bucher a run in the mountains.
That was your top 4 in Maui last year, in that order!
There is no disputing Dibens dominance, but as soon as everyone started repeatedly asking her “have you had any bad crashes on the bike?” at XTERRA Saipan this year – she, of course, had a bad crash. Suffered a couple cracked ribs and a few months of being called Julie “Ribens”, but still finished 2nd behind Bucher in Saipan and has recovered nicely (most recently placing 2nd at the Lifetime Fitness Tri in Minneapolis).
Bucher is having a magnificent year – with wins in Saipan, Italy, Malaysia, and her first (of 18) in the U.S. was Sunday at the XTERRA Northeast Cup. Climbing is her thing, and this course has plenty of it. Kabush has historically had a late-season surge and it’s getting late in the season now, and Shonny V won on this course last year.
The Rockies is the ultimate arena for XTERRA and for this high-caliber pro field. As a last-chance race to add points to a pros total in the Cup Series before nationals, it promises to be fiercely contested.
2 - Shonny Vanlandingham - 39, Durango, Colorado
4 - Danelle Kabush - 34, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
5 - Renata Bucher - 31, Lucerne, Switzerland
6 - Jenny Smith - 36, Westport, New Zealand
7 - Emma Garrard - 27, Truckee, California
9 - Rebecca Dussault - 28, Crested Butte, Colorado
10 - Alexandra Borrelly - 33, Digne-les-Bains, France
12 - Jari Kirkland - 32, Crested Butte, Colorado
14 - Sari Anderson - 30, Carbondale, Colorado
15 - Tracy Thelen - 29, Colorado Springs, Colorado
NR - Julie Dibens - 34, Bath, Great Britain
NR?- Flora Duffy - 21, Bermuda
NR - Lisa Isom - 37, Tennessee Pass, Colorado
NR?- Sara Tarkington - 28, Boulder, Colorado
NR?- Susan Williams - 40, Littleton, Colorado
About Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading of mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resort properties at the Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone mountain resorts in Colorado, the Heavenly Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties across the United States and the Caribbean. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.