CU Women Continue to Fight for Conference Win

Photo Credit: Eszter Horanyi

By Eszter Horanyi

On a race weekend that overlapped with 24-Hours of Moab and the opening of Wolf Creek Ski Resort, many collegiate riders were faced with hard decisions. With the lack of a downhill at the collegiate race hosted by Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, many gravity riders chose to take a pass on the weekend. Those in attendance were treated to a fast and flat short track, a world-class dual slalom and a technical cross country that challenged the skills of all levels of riders.

Showing up in force again was the CU women’s endurance team, fielding Katie Sodergren, Claire Bensard, and a newly upgraded Ashlee Wilson. They were paired up against the ever-strong Fort Lewis women’s team consisting of Lauren Catlin, Sarah Sturm, and Anne Cheeney. With team wins in the conference and at National Championships often resting on the performance of the women, all eyes have been watching the Women’s A races intently all season.

In the ST on Saturday morning, Catlin of FLC put on an impressive display of power by riding away from the rest of the field from the start on the relatively flat course. Sodergren and Jill Behlen of Wyoming chased with Sodergren crossing the line in second. Bensard (CU) finished just behind Sturm (FLC) in 5th and 4th, respectivey.

In the XC the following day, tables were turned for the top two women. Catlin and Sodergren stayed glued on each other’s wheel for 3 of the 4 laps and spectators began to expect a sprint finish. Finally, on the final lap, Sodergren was able to open up a small gap and grow it by riding some of the rock features that most of the other women were forced to dismount for. Sturm finished ahead of Bensard in 3rd and 4th.

Photo Credit: Eszter Horanyi

On the gravity side, Ashlee Wilson (CU) won the Women’s B contest showing she’s an all-arounder to watch in the future. FLC’s Brittany Clawson won the Woman’s A race by being the only woman to be able to jump the many step-ups and step-downs on the course. Bensard (CU) finished 3rd adding to the conference tally of points for CU.

After a season of intense racing, with only one conference race left, two power-house women’s teams remain head-to-head and who will emerge ahead come Nationals is any ones guess.

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