The reigning XTERRA USA Championship race champions, Sullivan Middaugh and Lesley Paterson, defended their titles in impressive fashion on a picture-perfect blue sky day at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colorado.
In the men’s race Sullivan Middaugh and Ruben Ruzafa came out of the water 1:30 down from Sam Osborne, reeled him in early on the bike, then rode wheel-to-wheel on the entire bike course. Once on the run, the 19-year-old turned on the jets at mile one and pulled away for the win in 2:15:33, with Ruzafa in second (2:17:14), and Osborne in third (2:18:44).
With the second place Ruzafa moves into fourth-place in the XTERRA World Cup standings. Kieran McPherson, who finished fourth, jumps into fifth, Sebastien Carabin (BEL) moves from 8th to 6th, and Middaugh advanced four places into the top 10 at No. 10.
In the women’s race Aneta Grabmuller (AUT) led Amanda Presgraves (USA), Samantha Kingsford (NZL), and Suzie Snyder out of the water. On the bike Kingsford and Snyder rode up front the whole way into the bike-to-run transition, but behind them was the “Scottish Rocket” Lesley Paterson. The 3x XTERRA World Champion was five minutes back after the swim, but just two minutes behind after the bike, and took the lead with a mile to go on the run to secure the win in 2:44:50, with Kingsford in second place just 15-seconds back and Snyder in third in 2:48:21.
With the third-place finish Snyder jumps back into the top five at No. 5, and Samantha Kingsford moves up eight places into the eighth spot.
As the last full-distance race on the World Cup schedule prior to the XTERRA World Championship in Italy on September 23, the USA Championship was a critical points scoring opportunity for elites competing in off-road triathlon’s premier racing circuit.
To determine XTERRA World Cup Champions, elites count their best four scores from the first six full-distance races with their best three Short Track scores and whatever they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA World Championship. Read the full race recap here.
Beaver Creek was not only the last of the scoring Full Distance races ahead of XTERRA Worlds but also one of the highest scoring, with almost every athlete able to tame The Beast moving up in the rankings to set up a screamer of a finish in Trentino this September. But this was also a race defined by legacies, where some proved once again why the Rockies is their playground, while others showed that it will still be theirs for a long, long time to come.
For Sullivan Middaugh, this win will mean a lot more than just the 110 World Cup points he walks away with. This was his first title defence as the XTERRA USA Champion and he passed the test with flying colours. Last year he beat his father Josiah Middaugh, a 15x USA Champion, to become the new reigning Champion and continue the Middaugh legacy, and this year he edged out even more top elites to prove that legacy is here to stay.
But it’s not just the win that matters, it’s also how he did it and who he did it against. The young US athlete posted both the fastest bike and run splits of the day, even looking to help lead the bike in certain sections. Ruben Ruzafa, Sam Osborne and Sébastien Carabin are amongst the most prolific riders in XTERRA, and to outbike all three is a testament to the potential that lies within the 19 year old athlete. He eventually opened the throttle on the run to close out the race almost 2 minutes ahead of 2nd place.
Sullivan Middaugh now moves into 10th place in the World Cup rankings, and will no doubt carry this momentum and experience against the best into the final stop at the XTERRA World Championship. And if there was any question as to how good the Middaugh’s can be out here in the Rockies, just remember that the 17 year old Porter Middaugh (Sullivan’s brother) finished 5th overall, ahead of a string of elites.
Lesley Paterson was another perfect display of an athlete doing what they do best on a course they were made for. There was some doubt on how the 3x XTERRA World Champ would perform without the amount of training she would have liked, but there was never any doubt on how hard she would fight. And fight she did. The Scottish Rocket was 5 mins back after the swim, 2 mins back after the bike, and took the race in the final mile. She said before the race that “something happens to me when I ride and run in these trails” and on Saturday we saw what that is. It’s the 4th time the Scot has taken the top step of the podium in Beaver Creek, and after what we just saw, it’s probably not the last.
Suzie Snyder claims the USA Championship title as the first US athlete across the line and in doing so continues to build on her legacy here in the Rockies and on the global XTERRA stage. It’s a hat-trick of USA Championship wins for Snyder and her 6th in total. It also sees ‘the Soulcrusher’ jump up to 5th place in the World Cup rankings with just one stop to go.
While Ruben Ruzafa did not get the win he was hunting for, his 2nd place finish leaves him just 7 points shy of Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen in 3rd to set up the ultimate finale in Trentino. Arthur Serrières cannot improve his Short track score but all 3 athletes below him - separated by just 30 points - can. Ruzafa is now back in range of a podium finish, and depending on who performs and who doesn't, any of the top 4 men could still take this series on the trails of Trentino.
Read the full race report for Stop #6 here, or watch the highlights reel below. The countdown to thefinal stop has begun, and in less than 25 days XTERRA will have its first-ever male and female World Cup Champion.
We caught up with reigning USA Champ Suzie Snyder and it seems race week has been nothing but business as usual for the renowned XTERRA Coach, still giving swim lessons and drafting training programs for her clients as the countdown to the race shifts from days to hours. It’s the kind of calmness you can expect from an athlete with no less than 5 USA Championship Crowns to her name, and the kind of calmness that could earn her a 6th.
Former World Champion Lesley Paterson is also looking remarkably fit considering the absolute minimal time she’s had to devote to training in recent months. But that will do little to ease the nerves of her competitors given her reputation to push till the bitter end. She says she hasn’t swam in 6 months, but also that it’s OK as she "won’t suck". But you can still expect full gas from the Scot as soon as the horn sounds on Saturday morn.
Ruben Ruzafa is now in the house, and those doing the maths will know why. Last week he got a DNF due to a broken wheel and found himself without a fourth Full Distance score in his World Cup campaign. Not part of his plan but it does come with a silver lining. Beaver Creek offers 110 points, 10 more than Germany, and a win here would see the Spaniard leapfrog from 6th position to 3rd - just 7 points behind Forissier in 2nd and 19 points behind Serrières in 1st.
To make it even more interesting, Serrières now holds the perfect Short Track score (60 points from 3 races), meaning he cannot improve his score but he can still win points to prevent others from scoring high. But if Ruzafa can win here in Beaver Creek and finish anywhere above 10th in the Trentino Short Track race, he could put himself in a position where a win at the XTERRA World Championship would also hand him the XTERRA World Cup win.
And if you know how Ruben Ruzafa races, you’ll know why he broke a wheel in Germany. He knows his strength is on the bike, and for the 7x World Champion - it’s always been all or nothing.
The countdown is on with World Cup racing back between the tape in less than just 24 hours. The race starts at 9am MST (11am EST) with live tracking available here, race updates on the XTERRA Americas IG, and results, times, and talking points published right here on the Stop #6 page as the action unfolds in Beaver Creek.
The course has been marked and is officially open for athletes to start getting their lines dialled. It rained a little yesterday, but the course is still dry and, if anything, the rain only helped to tamp it down.
Semi-locals Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford have wasted no time, seen getting a recce in on the bike course yesterday. Both athletes know how to win here, having taken the top spot on the podium in 2021, and both will no doubt be in the mix up front come Saturday.
Reigning USA Champ and local hero Sullivan Middaugh is also now onsite here at Beaver Creek. The Project Podium athlete spent some time talking all things World Cup on the Slowtwitch Podcast and also caught up with the XTERRA Media Crew.
The rest of the big names are expected to be arriving throughout the day today, with the festival officially kicking off tonight with the welcome dinner and a performance by none other than the USA’s Maddie Poppe.
The World Cup series has officially landed back on US soil for the penultimate stop of the series, and already there is a buzz with some last minute additions to the start list that will no doubt add a little extra spice to the USA Championship race.
Probably the biggest surprise comes in the form of 3x XTERRA World Champion, Lesley Paterson. This isn’t the first time she’s registered here on a whim without much training, and the last time she did it she claimed the top spot on the podium with the fastest bike and run splits of the day.
The tenacious Scot has shown time and time again that she will fight right up to the final inch, and current US Champ Suzie Snyder and New Zealand's Samantha Kingsford will be aware of what this means for the pace of Saturday’s race.
Ruben Ruzafa has also thrown his hat into the ring after logging a DNF in Germany due to a broken wheel. The 3x XTERRA World Champ will start as the highest ranked athlete, but also with little to no time to adjust to the elevation.
The battle on the bike between the Spaniard and Sebastien Carabin will be one to watch, but whether either of them can keep ahead of Sullivan Middaugh is the bigger question. This is the Middaugh family’s training ground, and reigning US Champ knows how to win here.
Timothy O’Donnell also joins the string of seasoned road athletes that have stepped over to the dark side this year. It’s the first off-road tri for the established US athlete who suffered a heart attack almost 2 years ago, ticking off XTERRA as one of his long time bucket-list races.
For the US athletes, national glory is at stake. But from a World Cup perspective, this race holds more points than any of the races in Czech and Germany - leaving those on the start line in Beaver Creek with an opportunity to make moves on the leaderboard ahead of the final stop. More to come as race week unfolds.
Stop #6 is the penultimate stop of the World Cup series and comes in as the last of 3 back-to-back weekends of World Cup racing, with some attempting the ultimate feat of taking on all 3 while others have put strategy first. As the USA Championship, the race not only offers the chance at regional glory for the US athletes, but also comes with additional World Cup points that could prove crucial in these final stages of the series.
But those extra points will be earned in the hardest way possible as the course, affectionately known as ‘The Beast’, boasts the highest elevation of any other race on the XTERRA World Tour, including a bike loop that takes riders up the famous ski slope some 3,500-feet to the 9.400-foot level.
Maria Doring and Lorena Erl are looking to complete the triple - racing Czech, Germany and Beaver Creek in just 15 days. But a pick for the favourite has to go to reigning USA Champ and 6th ranked female World Cup racer, Suzie Snyder, who not only lives and trains in Beaver Creek but also comes in with fresh legs after sitting out Czech and Germany.
However, Snyder will have her work cut out for her, especially with Samantha Kinsford looking to dip back into World Cup racing at Beaver Creek. Kingsford is also familiar with the course and won the title here in 2021. Another pair to keep an eye on will be the Canadian standouts - Carolyne Guay and Katie Button.
The men’s race will also be very tight up front with 110 critical points up for grabs. Kieran McPherson and Tom Fisher will all be attempting the triple, with reigning USA Champion Sulliven Middaugh and Sébastien Carabin opting to skip Germany. Sam Osborne also makes a return to World Cup racing and will be a threat all day long after taking the win here just 2 years ago.
Unfortunately Josiah Middaugh, who has seen more success on this course than any other athlete, is out after a foot injury put an abrupt end to his World Cup campaign and 2023 season.
There is no Short Track race at Stop #6, allowing athletes to leave absolutely everything they have out on the Full Distance course and set themselves up for the best possible start to the final stop in September. The race is set to start at 9am local time.
For news, event updates, stories and more.