Short-track titles awarded on day 1 of collegiate MTB champs

Racing continues at Beech Mountain on Saturday with the cross-country and downhill

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Four riders won national titles on Friday as the 2013 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships got under way on North Carolina’s Beech Mountain.

The three-day competition got off to a fast and snowy start with the short track cross-country races, run in 25-degree temperatures.

The University of Colorado went one-two in the men’s Division I race. Sam Morrison shot away at the gun, teammate Chris Baddick joined him on the first climb, and the two stayed away, with Morrison claiming the title. Kerry Werner (Lees-McRae College) took third.

“I just got the hole shot,” Morrison said. “And then Chris came up on the first climb and kind of sat in second and I just looked back and saw we had a little gap and figured I might as well go for it since Chris was sitting on.”

Kate Courtney (Stanford University) won the women’s race despite a miscue on one of the climbs.

“It was a really exciting race,” she said. “I had gotten a little bit of a gap and started to settle in and tell myself, ‘You can do this.’ Then I slid out and had to run one of the hills and got caught, so that was a little bit of a mental challenge because I had to get a gap again, which was hard.”

Lauren Catlin (Fort Lewis College) took second with Allie Dragoo (Marian University) third.

In Division II, Brevard College took top honors in both races.

Zachary Valdez (Brevard College) won the men’s short track ahead of the Mars Hill University duo of Michael Keith and Timothy Jenkinson.

And Erica Zaveta won the women’s race ahead of Alexis Skarda (Colorado Mesa University) and Sarah Hill (Brevard).

“Off the line I missed my pedal and kind of went back two spots and then clipped in. I attacked right at the first climb and just held the lead,” said Zaveta.

Racing continues at Beech Mountain on Saturday with the cross-country and downhill and concludes Sunday with dual slalom and team relays.