XTERRA USA Championship Preview
At Utah this Saturday.
Now in its 12th year, the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series is a showcase for the best off-road triathletes in the nation and world, and rewards the most consistent performers over the course of the season with the lion’s share of a $60,000 prize purse.
Since 2001, the Series has belonged to a two-time Olympian from South Africa, Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz, who has won seven of the last nine – including the last three.
This year Stoltz was simply perfect, winning all four regional events he competed in, and as a result he comes in to Saturday’s XTERRA USA Championship in Utah with a flawless score of 400 points. Note that the Series consists of six events – five regional championships and Nationals on Saturday. The top 15 pros at each event are awarded points, and count their best four-of-five scores plus the points they get (or don’t get) at the XTERRA USA Championship. Thus, the final point total combines an athletes’ best four scores in the first five races, plus the USA Championship race points. He/she with the most points after Saturday’s race is the U.S. Pro Series Champ.
The closest men’s pro to Stoltz is Josiah Middaugh from Vail, Colorado, who has been the top American in the Series’ the last three years and five times since 2004. While there are literally hundreds of different scenarios, for Middaugh to steal the Series’ from Stoltz he’d need a victory on Saturday coupled with a 9th place finish or worse from Stoltz. Another way to look at it, if Stoltz places 8th or better, he’ll win his 8th U.S. Pro Series crown and the $10,000 purse that goes with it. Here’s a look at the current men’s points standings
Pl Name 1 2 3 4 5 Total
1 Conrad Stoltz, RSA 100 100 100 100 DNR 400
2 Josiah Middaugh, USA 90 90 90 82 82 352
3 Seth Wealing, USA 75 DNR 75 75 90 315
4 Craig Evans, USA 58 75 82 69 DNR 284
5 Cody Waite, USA 63 63 69 49 69 264
The women’s pro standings are closer, although Durango, Colorado’s Shonny Vanlandingham is in a great position to become the first American since Jamie Whitmore in 2007 to win the Series’ title.
At 41-years-old Vanlandingham had a remarkable season, winning three of five regionals and finishing second at the other two for a total of 390 points. In second is the current and two-time defending Series’ champ Melanie McQuaid from Canada, who had two runner-up and two 3rd place finishes in four races good for 344 points. Switzerland’s Renata Bucher sits not far behind in 3rd place with the 338 points she gathered with two regional wins, a fourth-place and 6th place finish in four regionals.
The magic spot for Vanlandingham is 7th place, which would give her 448 points total; and even if McQuaid won the race she’d end up with 444. Here’s the current women’s standings:
Pl Name 1 2 3 4 5 Total
1 Shonny Vanlandingham, USA 100 90 100 90 100 390
2 Melanie McQuaid, CAN 90 82 90 82 DNR 344
3 Renata Bucher, SUI 63 100 75 100 DNR 338
4 Emma Garrard, USA 58 75 69 75 75 294
5 Christine Jeffrey, CAN 75 69 63 69 DNR 276
The race venue at Snowbasin Resort is world-class, and was home to the downhill and super G races of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
At this time of year the Wasatch Range is nothing short of gorgeous with the fall colors bursting in an amazing arrary of red, pink, orange, yellow, and green.
The race starts with a 1.5-kilometer swim in the calm and clean Pineview Reservoir situated at about 4,500 feet above sea level. The 30km mountain bike ride traverses dirt trails as it meanders into Wheeler Canyon, a spectacular slot canyon shrouded in oak, aspen and pine trees.
From there the trail opens into a field splattered with a colorful array of wildflowers, and competitors will climb about 2,300 feet on the way to the Snowbasin lodge area where spectators will have a chance to see the bikers as they pass through on their way up the mountain for another seven mile up-and-down loop. The total climbing on the bike is more than 3,000 feet with the top of the course peaking at about 7,500 feet.
The single-loop 9km singletrack run course then zigzags its way through aspen groves and fields of wildflowers. There are a few short, very steep uphills and another 700 feet of climbing before finishing in front of loads of spectators with great resort dining and a live band jammin’ away right on the bricks of the fabulous Snowbasin Resort.
XTERRA USA CHAMPIONSHIP BASIC FACTS
WHO: More than 1,000 athletes from 40 states and 10 countries.
WHAT: Three off-road triathlons, a Half-Marathon trail run, kids races, clinics, and Ogden’s annual Harvest Moon Festival.
WHEN: Friday-Saturday, September 24-25, 2010
The XTERRA USA Championship race starts at 9am Saturday
WHERE: Ogden and Snowbasin Resort, Utah
WHY: The culmination of the 67-race XTERRA America Tour, and production of an hour-long, nationally broadcast television show highlighting Northern Utah as a mecca for outdoor adventure recreation.
LAST YEAR’S HIGHLIGHT VIDEO: www.XTERRA.tv