Compton climbs to new heights in Vail. © Mark Legg-Compton

America’s top ’crossers were chasing mountain and road glory at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. While ’cross events were not on the agenda, some of the top male and female ’crossers used the unique event, which features paddling, climbing, fly fishing and canine competitions in addition to the road and MTB races, to chase down the fitness needed later in the year.

Jonathan Baker, a long-time vet of the US ’cross scene, slotted into fourth in the road time trial with Jake Wells beefing up the ’cross presence in the top 10 of the road event. With a top 20 finish legendary cycling multi-tasker Mike Kloser proved he still has the power to hang with the young bucks. And these results are made more impressive considering that top US road riders, including Ben Day and Burke Swindlehurst, were there to plow up the famous climbs of the former Coors Classic course.

On the rougher side of things, ’cross names were a little more evident. Barry Wicks finished just outside of the top five in the men’s race, with Jake Wells pulling the double and finishing 18th in the MTB race. Looking further down the list of results, Kloser also did double duty and Brady Kappius joined in the off-season fun of the XC race. On the women’s side, ’cross racers ruled the day in the cross country. Taking four of the top five spots, the women of ‘cross held off a strong field with only MTB pro Heather Irmiger sneaking onto the podium, taking third. Georgia Gould took a great win in front of Katie Compton, with Kelli Emmett and Amy Dombroski taking fourth and fifth.

But from the ’cross perspective the highlight of the weekend had to be the performance of Katie Compton in the road time trial. Thrilled to have taken a second to fellow ’crosser Georgia Gould in the XC race the previous day, Compton seems to have once again overcome the adversity that ended her ’cross season early and is regaining the form that had her in the World Cup leader’s jersey last year. Compton, riding her Stevens Cross bike with aero bars since her personal stable doesn’t include a road bike, sailed through the 9.98 mile course a minute ahead of her nearest competitor, Kelli Emmett, and 2:32 in front of Marissa Asplund, last year’s champion. The results is made even more remarkable as it is a new course record, besting the mark set in 2005 by Jeannie Longo – often named as one of, if not the, greatest female cyclist of all time.

Larry Grossman, ’cross fanatic and race announcer at the Teva Games, was one of the only folks that could catch up with Katie in Vail. After watching her take second in the cross country and stomp all-comers on the road, Grossman confirmed that Compton was thrilled with the way the weekend had unfolded. Grossman summed up the encounter with the champion saying simply, “Katie was Katie…. She looked fantastic, lean and strong, and she also seemed to be in a very good place mentally as she prepares for her 2010 season.”