The seventh stop on the 2019 Xterra Pan American Tour heads to the Colorado Rockies on July 20th. Host to Xterra racing since 2009, Beaver Creek, Colorado boasts the highest elevation of any major on the World Tour and starts with a 1.6K swim in the cold waters of Nottingham Lake situated at 2,260m elevation.

The next step involves 25K of mountain biking that climbs 1,000m up the famous ski slope ki slope. Then it’s on to a calf-burning, 10K trail run which breaks down into essentially two big 150m climbs.

“The course at Beaver Creek is a tough one, no doubt about it,” said 2015 Xterra World Champ Josiah Middaugh, who lives nearby and helped design the course. “Even though I love my home course, I have to be firing on all cylinders. If you’re having a bad day there is no way to hide.”

Defending champion Mauricio Mendez will not be racing Saturday, but current Xterra Pan American Tour leader Sam Osborne will provide all the challenge Middaugh could ask for.

While Osborne and Middaugh are the favourites, there are a dozen other elite men on the start list who will challenge for the win. Karsten Madsen from Canada who was second last week at Xterra Quebec will be racing his third race in as many weeks. “Recovery, recovery, recovery,” said Madsen about racing this Saturday. “With the damage (a crash) I took on I need to be careful and make smart calls this week. Going into the thin air worries me but this year it’s a bit of, ‘it is what it is.’ I just need to prepare well, sleep great, and put forth a good effort on race day. The rest will take care of itself.”

The women’s elite race is much harder to predict with several candidates in contention for the title, including the current Xterra Pan Am Tour leader Samantha Kingsford from New Zealand, the reigning Xterra USA Champ Suzie Snyder from Nevada, and the 2016 Xterra Beaver Creek winner Julie Baker from California.

“Beaver Creek is going to be another tough race,” said Kingsford. “Everyone I’ve spoken to about this race says it’s not technically hard, you just keep going up and up, to a higher and higher altitude – which should result in some interesting racing.”

Other notables include Kara LaPoint, who was third last year and will be racing her first Xterra of the season on July 20th. Deanna McCurdy – who was second at Xterra Quebec – has excelled on this course in previous years. Anne Nevin, a Norwegian who won the amateur title last year (sixth woman overall) will be racing elite this year.

All the elites on the start list will be looking to get big points as just four races remain in the Xterra Pan American Tour. After Beaver Creek, it’s on to Mexico on August 3, Dominican Republic on August 31, then the finale in Utah on September 7.

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