Emily Schaldach will travel home to Colorado with a medal of every color, and she still has one more chance to add to her collection.
The University of Colorado at Boulder mountain biker from Durango claimed a gold medal Saturday in the women’s club division cross country race at the 2016 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals at Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia. She followed that performance with a bronze in the afternoon’s downhill to add to the silver she won at short-track cross country Friday. She will look to wrap up the individual omnium championship in her division after competing in Sunday’s dual slalom race.
Meanwhile, Fort Lewis stayed alive in the Division I national title race with 480 points, which is currently second behind Brevard College’s 502 with dual slalom races to be contested Sunday. Marian University is third with 403 points.
The collegiate mountain bikers dealt with muddy conditions Friday, and it was only made worse Saturday when they woke up to a ½ inch snow and high winds. It was 28 degrees when the women’s cross country race started.
“I tried to embrace the mud and have fun sliding around on the roots and ice,” Schaldach said in an email to The Durango Herald. “I have been working hard this season to improve my downhill ability and was able to take the lead on the first descent. I held onto it and finished feeling good thanks to my team cheering from our hot tub at our condo above one section of the course and tons of support from friends on the course.”
The cross country races were shortened because of the weather. Schaldach crossed in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 40.5 seconds to beat Emily Shields of North Carolina at Greensboro. Shields edged Shcaldach in short track the day before. Claire Hamilton, also of CU-Boulder, took third.
The women’s club downhill was won by Friday Rnning of West Carolina. She finished in 5:39.144. Schaldach was third behind Hamilton in 7:07.550.
“Downhill was a muddy, rowdy mess,” Schaldach said. “The course was super challenging due to the peanut butter-like mud. I tried to relax and stay calm even though I was nervous and shaky the whole time.”
Schaldach thanked Boulder Cycle Sport for loaning her a downhill bike to train with.
Fort Lewis College remained in contention for a Division I varsity team omnium title. The team was led Saturday by Cole Paton’s third place in cross country in a time of 58:31.1. The rider from Cashmere, Washington, finished just ahead of teammate Stephan Davoust of Durango, who finished in 58:50.7. Davoust won silver in STXC on Friday. The cross country title was claimed Saturday by Eivind Roed of Colorado Mesa.
“It felt like a cyclocross race standing on the start line fully bundled up,” Davoust said of the cross country race that was shortened from four laps to two because of the weather. “Cole Paton and I rode most of the race together.”
Fort Lewis’ Mike Sampson was 10th in the race, and Levi Kurlander of Durango took 11th for FLC. Henry Nadell added a 14th-place result for the Skyhawks.
In the women’s varsity cross country race, the Skyhawks were led by Kelsay Lundberg’s sixth-place finish. The rider from Salida finished in 1:06:59.6. The title was won by Hannah Finchamp of Lindenwood in 1:01:42.5.
India Waller of Durango took ninth for Warren Wilson College. Carley Endersbe of FLC was 10th, Libbey Endersbe was 15th and Anna Schehrer was 20th.
In men’s downhill, Fort Lewis was led by Michael Sampson’s sixth-place finish. Phillip Kmetz of Lees-McRae College won in 4:41.166, and Sampson finished in 4:54.717.
Jaren Lockwood added an eighth-place finish for FLC, and teammate Joe Crosby of Durango was ninth. Bryce Hermanussen, also of Durango, took 11th for the Skyhawks, and teammate Joe Barry finished 12th. The Skyhawks were rounded out by a 15th-place finish by Matt Nelson.
FLC’s women’s downhill team saw riders take seventh through 10th place. Angelina Palermo of Marian University won in 5:56.250. Lacey Andersen of FLC was seventh in 6:54.859.
Libbey Endersbe was eighth, Schehrer took ninth, McCauley Smith placed 10ths, and Danielle Emter took 12th. Waller was 14th for Warren Wilson.
Racing will conclude Sunday with the dual slalom competition.