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Sufferfest time for US Ski Team athletes and staff


U.S. Nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher at the 2013 Sufferfest. Riley Steinmetz

U.S. Nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher at the 2013 Sufferfest. USSA/Riley Steinmetz

On June 29, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) athletes and staff will compete in the third annual Sufferfest. The bike race will take place near Sundance Resort, starting at the bottom of the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway and climbing over eight miles up Provo Canyon. The race is open to all USSA athletes and staff with handicaps in place based on previous race results, physical testing results, bike time up Sundance during training and some common sense.

“If you have an Olympic medal in Nordic combined, you are going to start last,” joked USSA Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mike Bahn. “I don’t care what the bike test says.”

Sufferfest is a great internal event that brings together athletes, coaches and staff from every discipline. Last year, the race had over 30 participants and alpine slalom skier Will Brandenburg was crowned Sufferfest champion.

“It [Sufferfest] is becoming a benchmark event for our participants that they all look forward to in the months leading up to and talk about in the months afterwards,” said Bahn. “At Sundance Resort, one of the most beautiful areas of the Wasatch Mountains, this is a unique event that allows cyclists of all abilities to compete against each other in a test of will and stamina as we scramble up the 3,000 foot climb to the top. Afterwards, we all enjoy an amazing brunch at Sundance Resort that we have truly earned!”

Olympic moguls skier Heather McPhie has participated in the event for the past two years and will participate again this weekend. She finished just behind Brandenburg last year and hopes to improve on her time this year.

“I love to try for my personal best and if I can ride Sufferfest in under one hour this year I’ll be thrilled,” she said. McPhie really enjoys competing in Sufferfest and looks forward to getting together with all the athletes and staff. “Obviously we are a motivated and competitive group of people, so it makes for a fun challenge, and it is amazing to watch the endurance athletes fly up the hill!”

Over 25 staff members and athletes have signed up to endure Sufferfest this year, including McPhie’s fellow Olympians Sarah Hendrickson and Liz Stephen. Why would anyone want to participate in an event with such an ominous name?

“Pretty much no matter how I look at it, if I am pushing myself, Sufferfest is approximately one hour of complete pain,” said McPhie. But the team atmosphere and great food make up for the suffering. “The best part for sure is the Sundance brunch. It is amazing food and it is really fun to ride down the hill together and eat a great meal after working so hard.” 

Bike Route: Begin at the bottom of the Alpine Loop Scenic Highway off of Highway 189. Continue up Provo Canyon for approximately 8.8 miles.

Start Time: 8 a.m. at the intersection of the Alpine Loop Scenic Highway and Highway 189.

End Time: All participants hope to finish the race by approximately 9:30 a.m.

Release courtesy of USSA

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