Stacked Women’s Field set for XTERRA Beaver Creek

Thursday 13 July 2017
The women’s elite field is filled with intrigue as last year’s surprise winner Julie Baker returns to defend her title against two-time XTERRA World Champ Lesley Paterson, reigning Pan America Tour Champion Suzie Snyder, and a long list of other contenders.

“I’m excited to race at Beaver Creek again,” said Baker, a soil scientist by trade who won the amateur XTERRA world title in 2015 then turned in a stunning performance to win this race in her pro debut last summer. “It was amazing to do so well last year and if it was a big surprise to my competitors, it was an even bigger surprise to me.”

As for her thoughts on “defending” the crown, Baker said “I think Suzie and Leslie are kind of in a class above me right now, but you never know what can happen if someone has a bad day or a mechanical.  So, I would be surprised to win again, but don’t think I’ll just give up and roll over!  I think I’ve been training well with some help from Josiah and Middaugh Coaching this year and my bike is probably the strongest it’s ever been.  I’ve also been getting in some serious heat training (not by choice) here in California, and I’ve been healthy leading up to this race, so I hope I won’t feel as miserable on the run as I did at Oak Mountain.  I think the Beaver Creek course is more suited to me, with more climbing than Oak Mountain.  I remember when I first started competing as an amateur a few years ago I would compare my times to the pro women and every single one had way faster bike times than I did.  I mean like 20 minutes faster.  I’m still amazed that I am competing against these women and not doing too terribly. I don’t know exactly who else will be there on Saturday but the other U.S. girls who are consistently on the podium like Maia Ignatz, Kara LaPoint, Emma Garrard, and Liz Gruber are also strong and I expect a good challenge from them.”

Suzie Snyder, who was 2nd here last year, has been on fire this season and sits atop the Pan America Tour standings once again following wins at XTERRA Argentina, Costa Rica, Oak Mountain, and just last weekend, XTERRA Victoria.

“Vail is going to come quick, and I don’t know I’m ever REALLY ready for it, but I’m going to do the best I can to recover over the next few days and go into it with as much energy as I can find,” said Snyder. “I’m mentally preparing for a tough day as usual. Beaver Creek is a race that always brings out some surprise competitors who do really well, in addition to the usual suspects who are strong climbers. For me, the most challenging part of the course is the altitude. Racing above 8,000ft just makes me feel like I don’t have the same strength and power so it can be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty good at overcoming mental race frustrations and pushing through so I don’t let that affect me too badly during the race…it just makes me dread the lead up to it!”

When it comes to the mental aspect of the profession, Lesley Paterson wrote the book on it … literally, it’s titled “The Brave Athlete” and is a brain training guide for athletes. She’ll do a book signing for all those lucky enough to be in Beaver Creek on Friday at 4pm. This will be her first time on this course, however, so she may have to write another chapter after Saturday’s race.

“I’m so excited to race here in Beaver Creek as its my first time! Can you believe it? From all I’ve learned it’s the most brutal and gorgeous course ever and I think the type of terrain that suits me – steep climbs and dry rocky descents,” said Paterson.       “Suzie has been killing it this year so she will be hard to beat but I’m up for the challenge! The mind and body have been doing better this last month so I’m ready to fight it out true Braveheart style :)”

2015 XTERRA USA Champion Emma Garrard is back in the mix after another couple months of training (she gave birth to her second child in January) and is always a threat, Maia Ignatz has risen to the level of serious contender over the past two seasons, and Kara LaPoint sits second in the Pan Am Pro Series standings.

“Beaver Creek is a beautiful but very difficult race because of the altitude and elevation gain,” said Garrard.  “I have been training the past two months at altitude and am fitter than Oak Mountain and ready to push myself harder, which is easy to do on this course. Although I still have a ways to go in my return to racing postpartum. The last time I raced it was in 2015 and it was my best performance that year, so if I could be less than 10 minutes slower than my time then I will be happy.”

The dark horse has to be Morgane Riou from France, who finished second at XTERRA Victoria last weekend and has finished in the top four at all seven races she’s done this season.

The elite race starts at 9am MST on Saturday, July 15, and you can follow it live on twitter @xterraoffroad #xterrabeavercreek

WOMEN’S ELITE START LIST

Pan Am Pro Series Rank – Name, Age, Hometown

1 – Suzie Snyder, 35, Reno, Nevada
2 – Kara LaPoint, 30, Woody Creek, Colorado
5 – Morgane Riou, 31, Fontenay, France
8 – Annie Bergen, 41, Kelowna, British Columbia
9 – Maia Ignatz, 37, Boulder, Colorado
10 – Lesley Paterson, 36, Sterling, Scotland
11 – Julie Baker, 40, Sonora, California
12 – Caroline Colonna, 53, Taos, New Mexico
23 – Emma Garrard, 35, Park City, Utah
24 – Jessie Koltz, 28, Reno, Nevada
25 – Anne Usher, 37, Portland, Oregon
26 – Heather Zimchek-Dunn, 31, Olympia, Washington
NR – Allison Linnell, 27, Boulder, Colorado
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