Collegiate Mountain Bike Nats begin Friday in Angel Fire

Team and individual titles up for grabs in four disciplines

The 2011 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships begin Friday, October 28 and continue until Sunday, October 30, at Angel Fire Bike Park in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The most competitive cycling schools in the country are expected to compete for Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in for mountain bike events in addition to individual and team omnium awards.

Competition begins with the racers turning 5.5-mile laps on the cross country course which traverses 1,400 feet of elevation gain and loss on each circuit. Division I women start things off, followed five minutes later by the Division II women. The Division I men follow at noon with the Division II men five minutes after them. Downhill seeding also happens Friday.

On Saturday morning, racers contest the short track, which will happen on a half-mile course. Four races are being run - one each for Division I and II men and women.

Downhill finals happen on Saturday afternoon on a 2.8-mile course that drops 1,700 feet.

Sunday marks the return of the dual slalom competition as riders will contest the course which descends 100 feet in a quarter-mile span.

Erica Zaveta (Lees McRae College) and Jill Behlen (University of Wyoming), who also ride in USA Cycling's National Development Program, are Division I riders to keep an eye on. Zaveta won the women's "A" short track while placing third in the cross country and downhill competitions at the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) Championships last weekend. Behlen won the women's under 23 race at the 2011 USA Cycling Cross Country National Championships in Ketchum, Idaho, in July to earn a spot on the American team at the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.

In the Division II women's individual competition, sophomore Eva Wilson (Warren Wilson College) and Coleen Pacurariu (United States Air Force Academy) are chief among the competitors. Wilson improved as the conference season moved along this year, culminating in winning the women’s omnium and the cross country race at her conference championships, last weekend. Wilson also earned second place in the short track and fourth in the dual slalom. Pacurariu has posted wins in the mountain cross and downhill competitions at Rock the Steamboat in September before topping the field in downhill races at the WSC on October 1 and 2. Paurariu defeated Behlen in the dual slalom at the 2011 FLC Squawker MTB Classic last weekend.

Rotem Ishay (Fort Lewis College), who won the cross country and short track races at the 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Truckee, California, is considered among the favorites for the men's Division I individual omnium. Challenging Ishay will be Victor Alber (University of Florida) who earned the season-long omnium in the SECCC. Last weekend, Alber finished third in the short track as well as the cross country races while placing eighth in the dual slalom.

Among the Division II men's riders, Eric Smith (Ripon College) continued to blossom this season after finishing ninth in the men's omnium in 2010. Smith won six out of the 13 conference endurance races and won one downhill race was placed second in the other two downhill competitions.

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