Dirt Rag Magazine

Racing the Scott Enduro Cup at Canyons Resort

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Photos courtesy of Scott Enduro Cup

This past weekend I joined elite riders from across the world at the third and final stop of the Scott Enduro Cup presented by GoPro at Canyons Resort. The final stop on the North American Enduro Tour traveled 17.2 miles of trail with 3,200 vertical feet of descending with sharp switchbacks, off-camber rooty singletrack, and the bike park flow trail. I was fortunate enough to secure a ride on a top-secret bike from Salsa (more on that soon) and tackle the same trails that the elite riders tear apart.

The Park City area is the world’s first and only International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Gold-Level Ride Center, and this race marks the third year Canyons Resort has hosted the Enduro Cup. The course at Canyons Resort requires riders to have the endurance to sustain energy while pedaling on non-timed transfer stages and impeccable skill to charge down the steep, technical timed descents. If you think enduro is all about chairlifts and downhill, think again. Some of the transfer stages included 30 to 40-minute sustained climbs in the Utah heat.

The course

At the base of the mountain, riders were staged according to category and set off in intervals. The first stage was a transfer, heading up a service road into singletrack. Riders were sorted according to category and plate number and set off in intervals. Stage 2, the first of four timed stages, headed through the aspens into an exposed, loose and rocky switchback descent down the Ambush trail.

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There was quite a delay before the second timed stage (Stage 4) which was a blessing and a curse. With time to kill at the base lodge I had time to ice my bruise from a quick crash on Stage 2 and grab some snacks, while other riders lamented the lost time. Stage 3 was a transfer via gondola and singletrack up to the Lookout Peak Cabin. There we found plenty of shady grass to wait for our call-up times, this time determined by finishing order on Stage 2.

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When Stage 4 came, it was a short and very technical rocky traverse across along Upper Cliffhanger down to Dropkick, a jump trail filled with berms and tabletops. It was a great example of the kind of varied terrain you can find at Canyons. The next starting gate was also near Lookout Peak, so the Stage 5 climb back up was nearly identical to Stage 3. By this point things had spread out considerably, and riders were welcome to take their time and start in any order they chose. Stage 6 was a fast rip down Upper Holly’s with the heavy traffic of race day emphasizing the loose rocks and braking bumps of the cross-ski slope traverses.

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The final transfer and timed stages were the real crux of the day, however. Stage 7 was a long, sustained climb that took riders back up the Ambush trail from Stage 2, then up the Mid-Mountain trail to the intersection with Red Coat. Riders had plenty of time to make it to the starting point, so most were taking their time (either to socialize or to accommodate the thin air of more than 7,000 feet of elevation). Stage 8 starts with Red Coat, a snaky bit of singletrack with plenty of pedaling, then quickly dropped into Insurgent, a black diamond downhill trail with super-tight switchbacks and a few drops. While the race format is welcoming to most types of bikes, it really made it clear how the sport is pushing bike designs by requiring them to pedal up the mountain and down some pretty steep terrain.

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After Insurgent, the stage joined Lower Holly’s a much more mellow flow trail with fast, sweeping switchbacks. That is, it might be mellow if your hands weren’t pumped into claws and your mouth left bone dry from the dry heat. Finally the sounds of the finish line picked up as the trail popped out just above the base and finished surrounded by a sea of riders, spectators and curious onlookers.

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Every rider got a beer and food voucher at registration, and they were quickly put to use as everyone gathered in the Sierra Nevada beer tent to trade stories and show off scars. Riders and spectators also had the chance to enter a raffle which raised $1,760 benefitting the Mountain Trails Foundation of Park City, Utah. Raffle prizes were donated by Scott, GoPro, ENVE, SRAM, GEAX, and Goal Zero.

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Results

In the Open Women’s category, Heather Irmiger (21:49.45) and Margaret Gregory (21:53.61) were neck-and-neck with less than five seconds between first and second place. Local Park City rider, Ileana Anderson with 2nd Track Sports, sped into third place with the time 22:38.95.

In the Open Men’s division, the top three athletes finished within 20 seconds of each other. Staking his claim on first place with the fastest time of the day was Mitch Ropelato (18:39.89), closely followed by Damien Oton (18:54.33) and Aaron Bradford (18:58.60).

The Open category podium winners received $2,500 total in prize money divided evenly between men and women. The top three riders in each Amateur and Junior category received gear from sponsors.

Both spectators and athletes could also view live timing results throughout the race on ItsYourRace.com and the ItsYourRace App. Riders not only competed to win the Canyons Resort race, but also to claim the overall Scott Enduro Cup presented by GoPro series title.

The series featured stops in Moab, Sun Valley, and Canyons Resort. By maintaining consistent finishes at all three stops, Beth Roberts earned the overall championship for women. Aaron Bradford sustained his momentum of success to win the men’s overall championship title.

Open Men

  1. Mitch Ropelato (18:39.89)
  2. Damien Oton (18:54.33)
  3. Aaron Bradford (18:58.60)

Open Women

  1. Heather Irmiger (21:49.45)
  2. Margaret Gregory (21:53.61)
  3. Ileana Anderson (22:38.95)

Amateur Men 19-29

  1. Matt Terry (21:14.66)
  2. Beau Hennings (21:22:65)
  3. Kyle Wehmanen (21:23.16)

Amateur Men 30-39

  1. Zak Brown (21:22.75)
  2. Steve LeBlanc (21:36.57)
  3. Drew Billington (21:41.242)

Amateur Men 40+

  1. Sam Fox (21:27.46)
  2. Mark Kugel (21:48.53)
  3. Geoff Maliska (21:52.47)

Amateur Women

  1. Heather Thiry (27:39.32)
  2. Kelsey Olson (28:23.89)
  3. Lyndie Saville (29:03.26)

Junior Men

  1. Josh Snow (20:49.83)
  2. Jaren Lockwood (20:59.49)
  3. Evan DeGray (21:20.67)

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