Ski Plattekill, Roxbury, NY Photo’s 2-5 by Steve Firth
Under crisp autumn skies, the 2001 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships were held the weekend of October 26-28 at Ski Plattekill Mountain in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Considered the Mecca of East Coast downhill racing, Plattekill’s mix of steep rock descents and grueling singletrack drew hundreds of collegiate racers and fans from across the US. This year marked the first time Collegiate Nationals were held in the Northeast and the East vs. West rivalry was at its peak. With several National titles on the line, the racing was competitive and action packed.
Short Track Friday afternoon’s short track XC races were the first to go off. This short, but fast course combined open ski trails, short steep climbs, and a tight challenging singletrack section. A large crowd of race fans loudly voiced their school spirit as riders snaked through a singletrack downhill to the finish line. Some of best racing of the day was in the Division I Men’s category where Adam Craig (Univ. Maine) was unable to hold back Connecticut native Tom Danielson (Ft. Lewis) who took home the stars and stripes jersey.
Division I Men 1. Thomas Danielson (Fort Lewis) 2. Adam Craig (Univ. Maine) 3. Jed Schneider (Kansas Univ.) 4. Barry Wicks (Oregon State Univ.) 5. Nathan Dills (Univ. Colorado – Boulder)
Division I Women 1. Alice Pennington (Oregon State Univ.) 2. Kate Maher (UC-Berkeley) 3. Nichole Marcillac (Cal Poly Tech-San Luis Obispo) 4. Leah Trapp (Colorado State Univ.) 5. Tarrah Macbeth (Lindsey Wilson College)
Division II Men 1. Tyler Wren (Princeton Univ.) 2. Andrew Inglis (Johns Hopkins Univ.) 3. Ben Vickers (US Air Force Academy)
Division II Women 1. Katelyn Wells (Western Kentucky Univ.) 2. Mary Rudy (US Air Force Academy) 3. Samantha Jennings (Warren Wilson College)
Dual Slalom Anyone who has ridden the dual course at Plattekill knows its reputation; big, fast, and not at all forgiving if you crash. This two-man World Cup style course, designed by Iron Horse Pro Lars Tribus, features an intimidating 30+ foot gap jump, above average size double and triples, and high bermed turns. Several favorites were knocked out of the racing action with gnarly crashes including Norba Pro Danielle Connolly (Nevada-Reno) and local favorite Seth Lolli (Northeastern), who got to take a chopper ride to Albany after his crash in pre-race practice. The best race of the day was the Division II Men’s final with Eric Porter (Western Kentucky) passing David Thacker (Alice Lloyd College) on the over-under gap jump for the Division II National title.
Division I Men: 1. Lee Trumpore (UVM) 2. Eric Barton (UC Santa Barbara) 3. Chris Van Dine (Fort Lewis) 4. Dave Trumpore (UVM)
Cross Country After on-and-off snow throughout the night and morning, the skies cleared up just in time for the start of Saturday’s cross country event. Almost 200 of the top Collegiate XC riders took the line to tackle the steep climbs and challenging descents that make the Plattekill cross country courses infamous. When the day was over, the Men’s Division I podium had a distinctively Devo-ish feel. Ross Schnell (Mesa State College) and Katherine Maher (UC Berkeley) took home the stars and stripes jerseys for the big schools with Tyler Wren (Princeton) and Mary Rudy (USAF Academy) taking the titles for the smaller schools.
Division I Men: 1. Ross Schnell (Mesa State College) 2. Adam Craig (Univ. Maine) 3. Thomas Danielson Thomas (Fort Lewis) 4. Jed Schneider (Kansas University) 5. Zachary Shriver (Fort Lewis)
Division I Women: 1. Katherine Maher (UC Berkeley) 2. Tarrah Macbeth (Lindsey Willson College) 3. Alice Pennington (Oregon State) 4. Ivana Bisaro (Midwestern St) 5. Marci Titus-Hall (U of Wisconsin)
Division II Men: 1. Tyler Wren (Princeton) 2. Robert Giannini (Emory University) 3. Brian Kenny (University of Akron)
Division II Women: 1. Mary Rudy (USAF Academy) 2. Katelyn Wells (Western Kentucky University) 3. Sarah Serling (Syracuse)
Downhill Downhilling is what has made Ski Plattekill legendary among mountain bikers across the continent and the race organizers were not about to disappoint the racers or the fans. This National Championship-worthy course combined some of Plattekill’s favorite fast singletrack and open fireroads with one of the nastiest sections of the mountain named “Hardcore.” Hardcore features a challenging entrance followed by a 10-foot rock drop into loose shale; all while avoiding a Volkswagon sized rock. This one section was the talk of the mountain the entire weekend with riders and fans taking bets on the carnage that would ensue Sunday morning. Kudos to race promoter, Jay Marconi, for not bending under pressure and making all riders race through Hardcore. Several objections were made about women racing the section but, as Jay wisely decided, this is a National Championship caliber course. The NCCA needs to change the scoring system and Omnium title to reflect modern downhill courses. Apparently someone forgot to inform coaches and team managers that it is not exactly safe for those new to the sport or without proper equipment to attempt a National level downhill course. Many women and men raced downhill simply to score points for their teams. As a top downhiller stated while watching a rider on a lightweight XC bike wearing a road helmet crash down Hardcore; “I wouldn’t try to race cross country with my DH bike and gear”.
In racing action, Danielle Connolly (Nevada-Reno) smoked the womens field to take home back-to-back Collegiate National Championships. The Division I Men’s race was stacked with talented up-and-comers from the Norba downhill scene. Taking home the National Championship title was talented slalom rider Joe Haley (Lindsey Wilson), who demonstrated his downhilling skills besting ex-Devo rider Chris Herndon (Lindsey Wilson), Iron Horse racer Clayton Harper (UMass), and Plattekill Jr-Ex Champion George Ryan (Northeastern). Eric Porter (Western Kentucky) doubled up the Division II Men’s gravity events with his win in the downhill despite stacking it on Hardcore.
Division I Men’s: 1. Joe Haley (Lindsey Wilson) 2. Christopher Herndon 3. Clayton Harper (UMass) 4. George Ryan (Northeastern) 5. Christopher VanDine (Fort Lewis)
Division I Women’s: 1. Danielle Connolly (U Nevada – Reno) 2. Mary Katheryn Tompson (Fort Lewis College) 3. Alyson Riley (Colorado State Univ.) 4. Adrienne Schneider (U Nevada – Reno) 5. Lauren Petersen (UMass)
Division II Mens: 1. Eric Porter (Western Kentucky University) 2. David Thacker (Alice Lloyd College) 3. Kevin Dole (Lehigh)
Overall After downhill competition ended Omnium and Team Championships were awarded. Receiving trophies made from locally quarried rock were:
Division I Team: Fort Lewis College Division II Team: USAF Academy Division I Men: Adam Craig (Univ. Maine) Division I Women: Katherine Maher (UC – Berkeley) Division II Men: Ben Vickers (USAF Academy) Division II Women: Katelyn Wells (Western Kentucky Univ.)
A big congratulation to Laszlo Vatjay and the Ski Plattekill staff and Jay Marconi and the Northeastern University team for hosting a top notch event. It was one of the best I attended all season. Great job!