Summit Tigers girls team shines at Pedal Power high school mountain bike races

Summit Tigers senior Tai-Lee Smith races en route to victory at a high school mountain bike race hosted by Pedal Power bike shop in Leadville on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Photo from Marla Dyer-Biggin

DILLON — After the Colorado High School Cycling League canceled this year’s state mountain bike race season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Summit Tigers high school mountain bike team got a casual chance to race together Sunday, Sept. 13.

It was the Eagle-Vail bike shop Pedal Power and owner Bruce Kelly who organized the event at Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus. Operating the event compliant with Lake County COVID-19 restrictions, Kelly hosted what Summit Tigers coach Jaime Brede described as a throwback cycling event.

“They didn’t even really do any results, didn’t do awards,” Brede said. “It was just, ‘OK, we’re out here, alright, cool. We’re throwing down.’ It reminded me of old-school mountain bike races where you just go race against people from another town, and you know who won, but the results don’t really matter.”

“It was good for the kids,” Brede said. “It was a low-stress environment to go out and have a good workout with friends from other schools and go push themselves a little bit.”

Summit Tigers senior Tai-Lee Smith won the varsity girls race in 59 minutes and 45 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Bayli McSpadden of Vail. The other top Tigers varsity girls finishers on the day were Victoria Uglyar (16th, 1:02:54), Marin Ward (seventh, 1:04:28) and Samantha Hessel (12th, 1:09:49).

On the boys side, South Park High School senior Liam Goettleman was Summit Tigers’ top rider on the day, finishing in fifth place with a time of 37:18 in the JV boys race.

Smith described Sunday’s race as an environment similar to high school races — with a team tent, and coaches and teammates cheering on fellow Tigers — though there were COVID protocols in place, and the competition level wasn’t quite as high as a normal race.

“It was like a scrimmage, less of an intense environment,” Smith said. “We were all in a group riding, racing with friends. But it kind of got competitive on the last lap. Other than that, it was chill and fun.”

Along with Smith, Brede said she was pleased with Marin Ward’s performance in her first varsity race after winning last season’s girls junior varsity state championship. She also gave Goettleman a shoutout for his strong race after working two days of bike-tuning shifts at Carvers in Breckenridge.

As of now, the Summit team doesn’t have any more races scheduled though they will be able to compete in virtual team challenges set up by the Colorado High School Cycling League.

Also this past weekend, Summit County mountain biking brothers Lasse and Nico Konecny again won Colorado Junior Cup races. This fall, the Colorado Junior Cup is a three-race challenge for high school-aged mountain bikers in the state. On Saturday, Sept. 12, in Castle Rock, the 17-year-old Lasse Konecny won his boys age 15-18 division by a half-tire length — 0.01 seconds — over his Bear National Team teammate Robbie Day.

Day, a senior who rode last year for the Evergreen team, and Lasse Konecny were two of the state’s best junior racers last year. Lasse Konecny said the friends worked together for the entire race before competing against each other over the final 6.2-mile lap. He then edged Day with the winning time of 1:43:03.2 on the 200-meter sprint to the finish line.

Nico Konecny, 14, also extended his cup winning streak to two races despite some bone bruising from a bad fall on the Frisco Bike Park’s larger dirt jump line about three weeks ago. With a time of 1:21:37.0 on the shorter course, Nico Konecny won his age 11-14 division by a more than three-minute margin.

“We can map their progress very clearly, and they’ve both done just a great job,” coach Jim Galanes said.

The Konecny brothers plan to race next at the Colorado Junior Cup’s state championship race Oct. 17 in Castle Rock.