Steamboat Springs After watching the professional downhill mountain bike riders at last year's Crankworx Colorado Free Ride Mountain Bike Festival, young Steamboat Springs rider Ben Siegel was ready to have a shot.
"I guess that, and watching mountain bike videos, was the reason I started racing," Ben said. "It just looked like a lot of fun, and I wanted to give it a try."
One year later, Ben was on the course, giving the top junior riders in the state a run for their money. He finished third in the dual slalom at this year's Crankworx, in the 13- to 15-year-old age division. His top finish came on a challenging course and against a top field of juniors. He was also fifth in the downhill.
"My turns weren't that great," Siegel said. "But I just powered through it and went as fast as I could. Some of the other riders were faster out of the gate, but I was able to make up some time in the middle of the course."
Despite the strong finishes from Ben Siegel, Steamboat Gravity Team head coach Cory Prager said top results were not the top priority at the event.
"The goal in mind when we went there was to gain some racing experience," Prager said.
But Prager, and several other members of the team, came back from the third annual Crankworx Colorado Freeride Mountain Bike Festival - Thursday through Sunday at Winter Park - with more than just a few extra miles under their fat tires.
"This was a big race. I am very proud of the Steamboat Gravity Team for their hard work," Prager said. "We could not have done it without the assistance of coaches Nick Itson and Ned Kajako."
Ben led the way with his finishes. Prager was eighth in the men's 19- to 29-year-old division in the downhill and dual slalom, and Kajako was 16th in the 19 to 29 downhill.
The Gravity Team took five junior riders, including Ben Siegel, Reed Wipperfurth, Jack Vanderbeek, Jim Vanderbeek and Alex Couchoud. All the junior riders raced in the 13 to 15 age division at the event.
Non-club riders also performed well. Sean Geisler was ninth in the downhill for junior men ages 16 to 18, Kyra Alexander was fifth in the pro women's class of the downhill, and Brad Bingham placed third in the cross-country race.