It’s not very often that West Virginia finds itself atop the world stage, but this September the world stage will find itself atop West Virginia. Situated at 4,848 feet atop Cheat Mountain, Snowshoe Mountain Resort and its world-class bike park will host the final stop of the 2019 Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Mountain Bike World Cup from September 6 – 8, and it’s bound to be a spectacle for the ages.
It’s been 12 years since the United States has hosted a race in the annual series, so for Snowshoe to host the Finals is a big deal. According to Snowshoe public relations manager Shawn Cassell, it’s likely the biggest development in West Virginia mountain biking history. “It’s big for Snowshoe and it’s big for the mountain biking community,” Cassell said. “It’s really the culmination of everything a lot of different people have done throughout the years to get us here.”
Snowshoe has hosted the USA Cycling National Championship series for the past two years, showcasing the country’s finest riders. With the World Cup set to show up, the world’s finest will up the ante for the caliber of riding on display. According to Snowshoe Bike Park manager Evan Cole, the riders will be pushed to their limits on Snowshoe’s dynamic terrain. “We’ve got a lot of roots and rocks, a lot of organic features people don’t normally see and have a hard time trying to find,” Cole said.
Logistically, planning to host the event is a huge undertaking for Snowshoe. Cassell said the whole resort has been making plans since being awarded the race bid last September. “A significant portion of our capital projects money is going toward pulling off this event,” he said. This includes some earth moving projects, including more than 30 dump-truck loads of dirt used to construct a brand-new, expert-level course on the slope of Upper Shays specifically for the downhill portion of the World Cup.
Cole said despite the massive undertaking that is planning for the World Cup, Snowshoe’s race production team is firing on all cylinders. “With the way we organize ourselves and get work done, we work really well together during races,” he said. “We’ve had four years of hosting national competitions here at the resort, so we’ve really been able to dial in our team.”
Cassell said there are some new XC trails that will link together some revamped versions of old trails. “It goes back to the old MTB history of Snowshoe Mountain,” he said. “People have been riding mountain bikes here a long time. This whole place is a spiderweb of trails that vary widely in age and usage. As far as downhill, the racecourse will utilize some classic Snowshoe favorites, with some beefed-up new sections as well. I think it’ll be the best of both worlds.”
Nearly 150 course marshalls are needed to cover the grounds, and Snowshoe is actively searching for volunteers who are willing to hang out on the mountainside to keep things moving. Hint: For the dirtbags who don’t want to fork over the cash to watch the world’s best shred, this means you.
“As soon as we found out we got the World Cup bid last fall, our team hit the ground running,” Cassell said. “Even during ski season, our busiest time, preparing for this event was still a top priority for us. We’re wanting to leave the crowd with a good taste in their mouths for West Virginia.”
If you’d like to end up with a good taste—and maybe some dirt—in your mouth, head up to Snowshoe Mountain in September for some high quality spectatin’ in them there hills. If you’re interested in volunteering as a course marshall or in some other capacity, contact Snowshoe’s volunteer coordinator Delayna Lane: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dylan Jones is publisher of Highland Outdoors and got laughed at hard when he asked if he’d ever be good enough to qualify for the World Cup.