Former Olympian turns Sugarloaf Mountain into mountain biking paradise

Many of Adam Craig’s formative athletic moments were spent at Sugarloaf Mountain.

But while skiing may have introduced the Exeter native to the trails at Maine’s second highest peak, his experiences as a teenage mountain biker – testing himself in the resort’s Widowmaker Challenge races in the mid-1990s – finally propelled him to Olympic heights.

More than two decades later, Craig’s memories of those early experiences will somehow serve as the basis for his new job as the sales manager of ATV races and events at Sugarloaf.

“I ran up there, and it’s one of the first places I noticed I could keep up with some of the pros,” said Craig, 19-time National Mountain Bike Champion of the United States who represented the United States at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

“Some of my earliest memories of racing come from up there. It was great to have this culture back then and it’s great to see this culture reappearing now. “

Craig, 39, who recently lived in the mountain biking mecca of Bend, Oregon, will promote the sport at Sugarloaf. He will work with the organizers to attract races and other events to the mountains.

He will also take a hands-on approach by creating enduro and downhill courses at Sugarloaf. It will help guide the development of the next lift accessible mountain bike park with trails for all ability levels, which is part of Sugarloaf’s 2030 development plan.

“What Sugarloaf has for him is the same thing he has for him in the winter,” said Craig. “It’s the second highest mountain in Maine and there is just good terrain so we can do some good long trails which by New England standards can give people a good, exciting hike.”

Craig, the top-ranked former American on the International Cycling Union World Cup circuit, has competed around the world on the best downhill and slalom courses for more than a decade.

After illness curtailed his candidacy for a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he turned to enduro racing. The new discipline of mountain biking includes timed stages covered in rougher track conditions. In his first year, Craig finished ninth at the 2013 Enduro World Series Championships.

Craig retired from competition in 2017, but has maintained a strong connection to the sport.

He continued a relationship with Giant Bicycles which began in 2003, as an ambassador in product development, marketing initiatives and providing advocacy and support to the mountain biking community.

Former US Olympic mountain biker and Exeter native Adam Craig now works to promote the sport at Sugarloaf Mountain in western Maine. Part of his job is leading the creation of rugged and natural enduro and downhill courses on the track. Credit: Courtesy of Craig Milliman

Craig also joined the board of directors of the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance, a nonprofit mountain biking advocacy group that is developing a 670 mile backcountry route through public lands in the Oregon.

“I’ve been basically as busy as when I was racing, just in another part of the cycling community,” he said.

In 2018 and 2019, he was an event consultant and North American representative for the Enduro World Series. It was in this capacity, while racing in Burke Mountain, Vermont, that he learned of Sugarloaf’s interest in establishing a mountain biking program.

He looks forward to joining forces with Sugarloaf and complementary interests such as the Town of Carrabassett and the Carrabassett Area Chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association to strengthen the sport’s presence in Western Maine. These entities will host the 10th anniversary of the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge endurance races on July 17.

Craig’s short-term job will include track preparation for an event already scheduled at Sugarloaf this year, the MAXXIS Eastern States Cup downhill and enduro races scheduled for September 11-12.

Craig will help create challenging courses for competitors in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

“There is a lot of work to be done, sure, but there is a certain enthusiasm for this work,” he said. “It will be fun to have a regional event and show some people what we’ve been working on.

Sugarloaf’s long-term goal is to create a trail system that will appeal to all ages and classes, perhaps even including Craig’s successors at the sport’s highest levels in the world.

“As the bike park develops in the years to come, it will be deepened for more user-friendly tracks, but when it comes to the racing infrastructure we are optimistic we will be able to create fun racing without too much backbreaking work. ” he said.

“It will be good to build on both the foundations of endurance events here and the new gravity events and try to build more national and hopefully world class events in the future. , but we are in no hurry. “


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