CU Cycling Posts Top 10 Finish at Mountain Bike Nationals
Friday, November 2, 2007

The Cumberland University Cycling Team wrapped up its fall racing season last weekend at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals in Banner Elk, N.C. The Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina provided a beautiful backdrop to three days of national championship racing. For two days preceding the event, several inches of rain fell, creating muddy conditions. Fortunately, sunny skies prevailed Friday through Sunday to help improve course conditions.

Collegiate cyclists from across the country were racing in hopes of standing atop the podium to wear the stars and stripes jersey, signifying their status as national champion. Cumberland's mountain bike team competed in all events: cross country, short track, downhill and dual slalom. All of the events were held on the campus of host Lees-McRae College with the exception of the downhill, which was held on Sugar Mountain.

While none of Cumberland's riders rode away with a national championship, there were individual success stories and overall progress for the team to hang their hat on. CU Cycling placed seventh overall as a team in Division II with 443 points, just 34 points behind fifth place. Last year, the team ended up 10th overall. Colorado School of Mines won the overall Division II award with 636 total points, while conference foe Warren Wilson College took second place with 626 points.

"We brought a much stronger team this year to nationals. Our goal was to finish in the top five, and we were very close. Regardless, I am proud of their efforts and achievement," CU Cycling Team Director Tim Hall said.

Two CU Cycling riders had top 10 finishes. Karen Amundson of Seattle, Wash. placed fourth overall in the women's omnium, and Alex Padilla of Guatemala City, Guatemala placed ninth overall in the men's omnium. The overall omnium is an award bestowed upon the riders who earned the most points individually after competing in each of the events. To place high in an omnium signifies an overall superior strength on the bike and demonstrates a well-rounded racing ability.

Karen Amundson relied on her strong performances in the cross country and short track to place high, as she finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Amundson backed up those results with a ninth place in downhill and a 16th place in dual slalom. Amundson ended up with 392 total points, good enough for fourth place, which was only 54 points behind national champion Kylie Krauss of Warren Wilson College.

"I loved making it to the podium! My field was made up of great competitors and great people whom I got to mingle with off the race course because of the awards ceremony," Amundson said.

Conference champion Alex Padilla continued his success from the regular season and rode himself into ninth place overall out of 85 total competitors. Padilla's results were 13th in cross country, 17th in short track, 29th in downhill and 13th in dual slalom.

"Alex has a unique competitive spirit. He's never satisfied. He's fearless and will take on any challenge to get ahead. This result is a sign of greater things to come from him," Hall said.

Other notable finishes were Peter Fairbanks of Minneapolis, Minn. taking 19th in cross country, and Jeremy Chambers of Murfreesboro taking 18th in short track.

According to Fairbanks, "Everyone contributed to the best of their ability, and I felt like we were there to contend for top places with Alex and Karen. Overall, I felt that I didn't perform up to my potential, but I tried to make up for that by showing support for the others."

Fairbanks was the conference champion from the spring 2007 road racing season.

Hall wrapped up his thoughts by saying, "From a depth standpoint, we simply aren't there yet, but this was our first championship experience competing with a more complete team. Our riders made an impact and nipped the heels of the top five. Our riders have a better understanding of what it takes to get to where we desire to be. We'll continue to build our roster, and soon we'll come away with championship jerseys."

Now that the mountain bike season has ended, the CU Cycling team will take a few weeks of rest before resuming training for the spring 2008 road racing season. To read more news and view results, please visit