XTERRA Mountain Champs Pro Preview

Jul. 9, 2015

Next Saturday’s (July 18) XTERRA Mountain Championship race may be in Josiah Middaugh’s backyard – and on a course he helped design – but that isn’t stopping some of the sports best off-roader’s from heading up to the Rockies for a crack at the title.

Middaugh, who has won the last two at Beaver Creek Resort and three of the last four (Stoltz won in ’02), heads into the final of four regional events as the leader in the XTERRA U.S. Points Series chase and the undisputed man to beat. That said, he’ll be up against two guys that have beat him already this year.

Costa Rican Rom Akerson, who upset Middaugh to win the XTERRA Costa Rica Championship back in March, is on the start list and so is Kiwi Braden Currie, who won a thriller against Middaugh at the Southeast Championship in May.

The list of contenders doesn’t stop there. Ben Hoffman is up for “a little mid-summer fun” and he’s proven to be as much of a force off-road as on. He was second last year at this race and placed third the two previous years. Brian Smith, another legendary mountain man, is jumping back into the fray as is the famous Chris Legh. Chris Ganter, who is ranked 2nd in the Pro Series, is looking to build on his early-season success, and Branden Rakita, 3rd in the Series, had one of his best-ever races here two years ago when he placed 2nd. Ryan Ignatz is fresh off a 3rd place showing in Richmond last month, Alex Modestou was 5th here last year, and Brad Zoller lives here. Add Chris Foster and Thomas Spannring to the mix and you’ve got a worthy elite field gathered to take on one of the sports toughest challenges.

No. - Name – Age, Hometown
1 - Josiah Middaugh - 36, Eagle-Vail, CO
2 - Chris Ganter – 36, Boise, ID
3 - Branden Rakita – 34, Colorado Springs, CO
4 - Braden Currie – 29, Wanaka, NZL
6 - Ryan Ignatz – 36, Boulder, CO
7 - Alex Modestou – 28, Durham, NC
8 - Brad Zoller – 37, Avon, CO
13 - Chris Foster – 32, Redondo Beach, CA
NR - Rom Akerson – 30, Tambor, Costa Rica
NR - Ben Hoffman – 31, Boulder, CO
NR - Chris Legh – 42, Melbourne, Australia
NR - Brian Smith – 39, Gunnison, CO
NR - Thomas Spannring – 39, Longmont, CO

No. = Rank in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series / NR = Not Ranked

The women’s race is just as sweet with the return of reigning XTERRA World Champion Flora Duffy. Although she said she’d never do another XTERRA after suffering to a sixth-place finish at Beaver Creek two years ago – she is a radically different racer now having won 10 of the last 11 XTERRA Championship races she’s entered since the start of 2014 (the lone “loss” was a 2nd-place showing to Kathrin Mueller at XTERRA Germany last year).

Duffy will be reunited with some familiar faces on the U.S. circuit in Emma Garrard and Suzie Snyder. Snyder won the East Championship last month, her second major of the year, and Garrard has finished runner-up in all three regional championships so far this year.

Swim superstar Sara McLarty and Debby Sullivan are also in the mix, alongside a lot of fast riders from Colorado like Maia Ignatz, Sara Schuler, Rebecca Blatt, Jaime Brede and Jennifer Gersbach. Kara LaPoint twisted her ankle really bad in Richmond last month and is questionable to start, as is Solana Kline due to injury.

As the last of four regionals prior to Nationals, the Mountain Championship is a great opportunity for elites to move up in the points standings before the ultimate showdown in Utah on Sept. 19. For amateurs it’s one of only two races left where they can qualify for the 20th edition of XTERRA Worlds, and score big points towards winning their region.

No. - Name – Age, Hometown
2 - Emma Garrard – 33, Park City, UT
3 - Suzie Snyder – 33, Fredericksburg, VA
4 - Maia Ignatz – 34, Boulder, CO
5 - Kara LaPoint – 28, Truckee, CA
7 - Sara McLarty – 32, Clermont, FL
8 - Debby Sullivan – 33, Rocklin, CA
10 - Sara Schuler – 34, Boulder, CO
11 - Rebecca Blatt – 35, Lakewood, CO
16 - Jaime Brede – 38, Breckenridge, CO
NR - Flora Duffy – 27, Devonshire, Bermuda
NR - Jennifer Gersbach – 35, Durango, CO
NR - Solana Kline – 32, Bend, OR

No. = Rank in the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series / NR = Not Ranked

Learn more at www.xterrabeavercreek.com