By John Egan
It’s fair to say that Western State Colorado University sits at the peak of mountain sports.
Situated at an elevation of 7,700 feet in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western State Colorado University offers students the chance to compete in mountain biking, skiing and other mountain sports. Former professional mountain biker Dave Wiens returned to his alma mater in 2012 to become director of the mountain sports program.
Wiens says excellence in mountain sports is woven into the fabric of Western. The coed mountain sports program is “built on the foundation that has been established by a long list of Mountaineer mountain sports athletes whose accomplishments are part of the history and legacy of Western,” he says.
The university offers a full menu of mountain sports:
- Gravity and XC mountain biking
- Alpine ski racing
- Nordic ski racing
- Freeride skiing
- Freestyle skiing
- Endurance (skimo) racing
- Freeride snowboarding
- Freestyle snowboarding
- Trail running
In terms of skiing and snowboarding, Western is a preeminent snow sports university, and mountain sports winter athletes compete at the highest levels on the most competitive circuits, as well as in entry-level competitions that allow up-and-comers to polish their skills.
Furthermore, members of the trail running team compete in top trail events across Colorado and the West. The university’s mountain sports runners train and compete throughout the year for everything from 5K sprints to 100-mile ultramarathons.
Meanwhile, members of Western’s mountain biking team compete in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference against some of the best riders in the country. In 2013, Mountain Bike Action magazine crowned Western as one of the top 10 universities for mountain bikers.
“Gunnison and Western's backyard trail riding is top-shelf, second to none,” Wiens says. “Our riders’ daily bread is the magnificent, 50-plus-mile trail network of the Hartman Rocks area. Hartman’s is a smooth, fast and flowy sea of sagebrush, pocked with challenging and technical islands of granite, slickrock and juniper trees. And Hartman’s is just one-quarter of the public lands accessed directly from Gunnison and the Western campus.”
Click here to explore all of Western's Mountain Sports programs.