Durango’s Howard Grotts and Park City’s Keegan Swenson quickly found themselves ahead of the pack at the
Grotts narrowly beat Swenson with a time of 1 hour, 37 minutes, 3 seconds with Swenson taking a time of 1:40:20.8.
“The race was immediately split up with Keegan and I,” said Grotts. “We rode together for a lap and a half and I pulled 10-20 seconds away on the third and final lap. I kept pretty consistent.”
The Vail Mountain course is seven miles with the Pro/Expert riders needing to make three laps. Grotts is no stranger to the event as the Durango native and former DEVO and Fort Lewis College rider began his quest at the GoPro Games in 2012 when he took third place. In 2013, Grotts won the first of his four wins with a blazing 1:21:42.
According to Grotts, it was a nice change of pace from his usual grind on the UCI World Cup.
“It’s refreshing to come back and race in this course,” said Grotts. “The course was pretty much the same it always is. It’s kind of an old school course compared to what we’re racing now in the World Cup circuit.”
Other Durango riders who competed in the event was Benjamin Sonntag who came in fourth with a time of 1:45:48.6, and Troy Wells who took eighth with 1:51:28.6. Finishing at 21st place was Levi Kurlander with a time of 1:59:08.5, and Stephan Davoust who took 30th with a time of 2:07:23.1.
Todd Wells’ day was over all too soon as the veteran rider got a flat tire approximately five minutes into the race.
Durango’s Liz Carrington took 10th in the Pro Women’s race with a time of 2:21:13.5, and Emily Schladach took 14th with 2:35:24.3.
With higher elevation than Durango, the ride at Vail Mountain was approximately 8,500 feet, which took a toll on the riders as the race went on.
Luckily, the course was in good condition.
“It was pretty overcast during the race,” said Grotts. “Some of the trails had a little mud from snow melt and some parts were dry and dusty, but they were in good shape.”
Up next for Grotts is the Missoula XC race as part of the U.S. Cup.