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Harvey, who is also the Burnsville Nordic ski coach, said the sport in many ways is similar to Nordic skiing; there’s an obvious endurance element, but also an extreme technical aspect. He has his team do regular drills in practices focused on technique, and also teaches them basic maintenance and repair of their bikes.
Still, in the end, the most appealing aspect is the competitive atmosphere.
“I was pretty nervous starting out, because I thought it would be really intimidating,” Lakeville North’s Nicole Jenson said. “But it’s a lot of fun.”
Jenson, a sophomore, races in the junior varsity girls’ division. Through four races, she sits as the overall points leader. Unlike traditional high school sports, Jenson’s JV points are essential to her team’s success. The cycling league, Sjoquist said, is set up to mirror conventional bike races, meaning competitors race in age-based divisions. Seniors are in the “varsity” category; juniors compete in JV. There is also a freshman/sophomore class. A team’s cumulative score is based on adding all points from all racers — boys and girls — competing in each division.
“That can make things a little difficult for teams like us, though,” said Kolbow, whose Chanhassen/Chaska squad has only six total racers.
The team aspect is what sets the high school league apart, Horner said. She has competed in summer mountain bike races the past several years, and said she prefers the atmosphere of the high school league.
“The competition’s been great,” Horner said. “I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”