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Durangoan places third at U.S. Open

15-year-old Asa Vermette is youngest to compete in pro division
Asa Vermette of Durango, fourth from left, stands on the podium at the Fox U.S. Open after finishing third in the pro men’s division. Vermette, 15, became the youngest competitor to race as a pro at the event. (Courtesy Josh Vermette)

Asa Vermette became the youngest mountain biker to compete in the pro/open class at Fox U.S. Open downhill mountain bike championship last weekend in Killington, Vermont.

The 15-year-old from Durango, however, did more than race some of the top downhill mountain bikers in the world; he nearly beat all of them for the $15,000 top prize.

Vermette said he decided to race as a pro at the U.S. Open based on the advice of people in the business after his previous performances this season.

Before the U.S. Open, Vermette had competed in 19 races this season, including a few pro events, and won 18 of them. He placed third in the other.

Vermette’s dad, Josh, raced in the U.S. Open in the men’s 40-plus Cat 1 division. Asa’s mother is Jonelle Morrison. Josh described the course as, “more pedally than most downhill courses, but still challenging.” He said it had some slippery roots and chunky rocky sections and a couple of big jumps as well.

“It was definitely challenging to stay on your line,” Josh said.

Some fog a little rain came in before the pro race too, making the course even slicker.

Asa, however, still flew down the course. Josh said several people told him that Asa looked like the smoothest rider down the track.

Asa reached the podium in third place out of 60 pros at the open, finishing one second away from second place and about three seconds from first.

“I felt super-stoked to get on the podium in the place that I did,” Asa said.

“He pretty much became a legend overnight,” his father said.

Dakotah Norton won the U.S. Open, and $15,000, with a time of 2 minutes, 48.987 seconds. Luca Shaw, in second (2:51.422), was followed by Asa (2:52.415), Neko Mulally (2:53.245) and Dylan Maples in the fifth and final podium spot (2:55.631). Jackson Goldstone, the 2022 junior World Cup overall winner and the winner of this year’s Red Bull Hardline, finished 11th in 3:01.073.

The women’s podium included Nna Hoffmann (3:11.051), Jill Kintner (3:13.997), Aletha Ostegaard (3:18.180), Kailey Skelton (3:21.830) and Mazie Hayden (3:27.211).

Josh finished third in the Cat 1 40-plus division (3:30.799).

Asa’s time would have won any other division at the U.S. Open by at least five seconds.

Josh said Asa will continue to race as a pro whenever he can. To race in the World Cup, however, riders need to be at least 17 years old. Asa, a two-time national champion, plans to compete in Europe next year to get used to the terrain and then represent the USA in the World Cups when he turns 17.

“He has the gift, and he’s such a humble kid,” Josh said. “He loves to ride and always has a smile on his face. That’s why he wins; he just loves it.”