Edina mountain biker has racing gear like no other

  • Article by: CHARLIE ARMITZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2014 - 6:57 AM

Leg surgery to deal with cerebral palsy opened up Edina’s Max Ellingson to mountain biking. He hasn’t stopped pedaling since.

hide

Max Ellingson speeds on his mountain bike, far from any mountains on a paved trail in Edina’s Bredesen Park on Thursday afternoon.

Photo: Photos by JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Max Ellingson’s cerebral palsy puts him at a disadvantage at times.

But when he mounts his bike to race, Max turns his intensity up a gear.

“It’s like you can’t tell that he has a disability,” said his mother, Sue Ellingson.

Max is a captain of Edina High School’s mountain biking team and a passionate racer — an identity that he and his family put before his disability.

The dirt trails have been a haven for the junior, who competes at a high level thanks to a surgery he had at age 10 that rotated his legs outward.

“It really just secludes you and gets you in this zone where you’re not really thinking about anything else,” Max said of mountain biking. “It’s really peaceful.”

Max’s surgery was elective, but doctors said it would greatly improve his legs and prevent future complications such as arthritis.

The Ellingsons found Dr. Stephen Sundberg, one of the nation’s top doctors for the procedure. Sundberg performed the surgery successfully.

The years after Max’s surgery included physical therapy to retrain his muscles. The first summer was particularly difficult, as Max needed a wheelchair and wore a cast.

“He had to kind of learn how to walk again,” said his dad, John Ellingson.

John Ellingson said they would take Max out in public while he was in a wheelchair, and when people asked about his condition, he and Max would invent a story — that he had broken both legs, for example.

“We wouldn’t joke all the time,” John Ellingson added.

When Max was able to resume activities, his dad introduced mountain biking. The sport has racing elements akin to skiing and go-kart racing, which Max had tried when he was younger.

His first few races were tough, but he quickly fell in love with the sport. John Ellingson said he could tell the sport was a good fit after Max earned a top-three finish at a race.

Max had tried traditional sports when he was younger, but his balance and coordination weren’t up to par.

“He could do all the sports,” Sue Ellingson said, “but he just couldn’t be competitive.”

Max has to work harder to compete in mountain biking because his body consumes more oxygen than the average person. He does this by stretching and keeping his legs active regularly.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close