Fort Lewis College Mountain Bike Team Wins National Titles

10/28/2022

Fort Lewis College placed second overall at the 2022 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships at Purgatory Resort, while winning gold medals in the Women’s Downhill and Team Relay disciplines. USA Cycling sanctioned the racing. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by StoneAge and Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado

The Fort Lewis College Mountain Bike Team is riding home from the Collegiate National Championship in the red, white, and blue. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Stone Age and Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. I'm Connor Shreve. The Fort Lewis College Cycling team proved its mettle in the mountain biking discipline over the course of four days during the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championships at Purgatory Resort. The Skyhawks won two national titles and earned multiple podiums while riding its way into second place in the overall team rankings. Team director Ian Burnett says he has a deeper team than in previous years.

We had pretty high expectations and that we were able to win some things that we don't usually win in Dual Slalom as a team and women's and downhill in women's and men's Winning those categories has been huge for us. Those are things we've struggled with and just try to grow our team on and to be able to have those now has been sweet. And then just that we're building that and competing like in this situation with CMU again is huge. You know, they've been blowing us out of the water for this for a little while and to do it this year has been sweet.

Senior Fiona Dougherty took her first career podium at a national championship event by winning gold in the women's downhill. Junior Michaela Thompson paced things on the endurance side by taking silver in the short track race.

Yeah, I felt good going to the race and just played with the tactics well. I think that I was patient the first half of the race, and it was a long race day, 30 minutes. So I stayed consistent and just like stayed aggressive with the front two riders and yeah, used the spots where I know I have an advantage on the flat sections, on some of the technical areas in the corners. But yeah, it was a fun race. All the cheering on the sides and everything was so wonderful and the course was a blast, so it was great.

She enjoyed doing it in front of the home crowd.

Thursday I was in my lab class from like eight to 11 in the morning, and then right after class just headed up here and I was like, wow, okay, we're at Nats. People are flying from all over the place to come to this race and I get to just drive 30 minutes from town. This is our home mountain, so we're up here a lot and it feels good.

FLC also placed three riders in the top six in the men's downhill, led by Ethan Wright's second place finish, less than three seconds off the winning pace set by Colorado Mesa Universities, Matt Sterling. The results mark the beginning of something special for FLC.

I mean, our biggest thing right now is that we got some money that we got from the school that'll really help us recruit those top athletes and be more competitive with the CMUs and be able bring people to Durango. That's what it's all about, you know. We got to bring people to Durango. We've always relied on that without money. And then now that we have some scholarship money that we can really put behind it, now it kind of makes it that little bit, a little bit more fishing and get some of those top athletes that we can hopefully bring ourselves up to that top and compete for any championship we attend.

And that momentum is part of what made the Skyhawks final win in the event's last event, Team Relay, even more special and perhaps representative of what's to come for the Skyhawks Mountain Bike team.

It's pretty special. We keep coming up just short. We came up seven tenths short in that downhill in the women's for the win. Michaela was second yesterday. So we keep getting really close to that championship and to be able to kind of finish this out with the championship as a team too in that team relay was pretty special.

Burnett says the Skyhawks will take the momentum into the Cyclo cross season with the goal of bringing home more medals as one of the nation's top cycling teams. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.

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