Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Inside Scoop: Neven's Collegiate Nationals

It's always interesting to discover what "really" happens at races. Without actually attending the race, watching a Freecaster broadcast, or getting a complete report from a racer, it's easy to take a list of results at face value. Yet you know that every rider out there has a story about how they crashed, narrowly avoided crashing, or had the most amazing and glorious race runs of their lives.

Collegiate racing tends to bring out even more of these stories because it's just so much fun. This year's National Championships took place in Banner Elk, NC. Neven Steinmetz trekked across the country with the University of Colorado cycling team and her sights set on a Dual Slalom Collegiate National Champion's jersey, and perhaps one in downhill too.

On paper, Neven should have been a ringer for the dual slalom title, and was a strong contender for a downhill win too. However, an untimely bailout at the crux of the downhill course during pre-race practice on Saturday ended her chances for downhill domination.

Says Neven, "It was just super muddy and slick. I knew I was going to crash, so it was either endo into some rocks or try and bail over the berm--as it turns out, also into rocks! I thought it might just be sprained and tried to ride down, but I had to put my foot out moto-style at one point because it was so muddy. When I felt the bones move, I knew I wasn't going to be racing the DH an hour later!"

Still, the dual slalom was more than 24 hours away. Being the focused athlete that she is, Neven decided to take her chances and attempt to snag her dual slalom win. We don't want to suggest that it's a good idea to race bikes when you know you're broken. Not only is it easier to cause more damage to the already broken parts, but it's pretty easy to throw yourself on the ground again and end up with more than one broken limb. Neven knew she was taking a chance that might send her into the operating room, but she was willing to deal with the possible consequences for the sake of another University of Colorado win.

In the true spirit of collegiate cycling, her CU teammates borrowed a wagon and pulled Neven up the hill to her heats. She made it through the rounds and finished 4th. More impressive was the fact that she managed to minimize the harm done to her heavily wrapped and air-casted kankle by running one clipless pedal and one flat pedal. She gimped her way back to Boulder to receive the good news that no surgery would be required--just 6 weeks of crutches plus some rehab.

So kids, the morals of the story here are: Stay in School!; Don't Try This at Home!; and When in Doubt, Have Your Friends Pull You Up the Hill in a Wagon!

1 comment:

Martha Hucker said...

Wow, that is HARDCORE! I've seen some people carry on and do crazy stuff when they haven't known they've broken something... but knowing its broke and doing it anyway? Wow... and ow!!!!!