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Durango Demons dominate national mountain bike races in Winter Park

Four teens win titles in first-ever competition for high school students
From left, Maggie Holcomb, Bailey Cioppa, Ruth Holcomb and Ivan Sippy wearing the national championship jerseys they won in their individual races in Winter Park.

The Durango Demons dominated the inaugural High School Mountain Bike National Championships, bringing home four individual titles as well as the D2 team championship. The results mean that Durango High School holds the first ever high school mountain bike national title.

The inaugural championships were held July 12-14 in Winter Park, in conjunction with the USA Cycling National Championships the prior week. While high school mountain bike racing has been exploding in popularity, this is the first year there has been a National Championship event for the student athletes.

“This inaugural event in Winter Park was a great step forward, and I firmly believe it will grow exponentially in the next few years as it will attract more riders than the normal National Championships,” said Gaige Sippy, who helped bring the Colorado High School Mountain Bike State Championships to Durango in 2018 and 2019.

The four individual titles were earned by sophomore Maggie Holcomb, juniors Bailey Cioppa and Ivan Sippy, and senior Ruth Holcomb.

The racers also saw success in the non-high school championship races. Ruth Holcomb raced to victory in both the cross country and short track cross country races in the junior 17-18 category, while Maggie Holcomb won the short track and placed second in the junior 15-16 cross country race. Sippy came home with a pair of second-place finishes in the events, and Cioppa finished in third in both events.

“It started off dumping rain, ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ by Taylor Swift was playing so it was all good,” Ruth Holcomb said in a news release from USA Cycling. “We had a great time. I went a little harder than I would have liked on the first hill and that's definitely my fault. And then I just kind of rode pretty clean down the hills. Then the next lap, it was all good, but honestly, the best part was the Taylor Swift the whole time, and being out with my best friends.”

The trip to nationals was a breakout performance from Ivan Sippy, who came up through the ranks of the Durango Devo program and now rides for the Durango-based Segment 28 team.

“So proud of this kid today,” Sippy’s coach, Rotem Ishay, said in a social media post. “His performance, confidence and UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) points have been on a linear improvement this year. As his coach and team leader, I want to express my gratitude to the real people who shaped this kid not only to ride bikes really fast but also as a compassionate and genuine good person.”

All four Demon athletes have seen previous success this spring and summer, including podium performances in USA Cycling Pro XCT races in Utah and Montana. Ruth Holcomb also raced to a fifth-place finish in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic pro women’s road race behind winner Erin Huck, who is set to represent Team USA at the Tokyo Olympic Games mountain bike race next week.

The Demons’ titles are in good company with strong results from other Durango-based athletes. Riley Amos swept the Under-23 men’s category, winning both the short track and cross country events. Fort Lewis College rider Savilia Blunk won the women’s Under-23 cross country race and the elite women’s short track event. And Stephan Davoust, an alum of both Durango Devo and FLC, raced to a pair of second-place finishes in the elite men’s category.

The elder Sippy, who also serves as the director of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, hopes that the inaugural event will boost high school cycling throughout the country as well as locally.

“From a local standpoint, the Durango kids were great ambassadors, and they really shined a light on how great the Durango cycling culture is,” he said. “We had many parents approach us about their kids coming to Durango for a visit and looking at FLC as a college option for their students.”

Colorado’s high school mountain bike season is in the fall, and the State Championship race will be held in Durango, Oct. 23-24, at Durango Mesa Park.

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