Tad Elliott’s busy schedule didn’t stopped him from picking up an U-23 title this July at the U.S. Mountain Bike Nationals in Granby, Colorado. “It went really well. My goal was to win but it was still a surprise. Everyone else was so strong,” said the 22-year old.
After winning the U-23 title, he also raced the short track race in the Elite Men category. In the middle of the race, he was in 6th place and got a little excited for a top-5 podium finish. A little overeager, he blew up and ended up being pulled for part of the race by a teammate and finished the race with a still-impressive 8th place.
Despite a few pre-nationals races not going so well, Elliott felt confident going into the Championships. Usually racing every weekend, he was able to take some time off to come back to Colorado and get in some solid training.
He was also the U-23 champion two years ago. A bad crash and broken shoulder blade last summer kept him from racing nationals, but didn’t keep him down. “I was back on the stationary bike ten days later so it wasn’t that bad.”
From here, Elliott moves on to Mountain Bike World Championships, which are going to be held in Mont Ste. Anne, Quebec. He doesn’t know how he’ll do there but maintains a positive attitude by “hoping for the best.” After that, he’ll jump right into ski training.
This is the norm for the Durado, Colorado native. Racing for pro teams in both cross country skiing (CXC) and mountain biking (Sho-Air-Specialized), Elliott travels for racing eight months of the year and is usually doing local races when not on the road.
This spring there was overlap between his ski racing and mountain biking but he believes this makes him a better competitor. “I’m really fit coming off the ski season so I can jump right into biking.”
He spent a month in Europe racing Swiss Cups and Power Cups, which he thought went really well. Compared to ski racing, Elliott finds the Euopean circuit crazier. “Mass start races where there are 240 starters on the line. It rains all the time, making it slippery on hard courses. You have Euros yelling at you, pushing and punching… it’s a lot bigger scene over there because this is a party for these guys.” The 5-mile cycling courses can hold up to 30,000 fans and the energy is encouraging to the racers.
He finds that skiing and mountain biking compliment each other and that as a junior, athletes should be experiencing as many different sports as they can. “I don’t have to do as much rollerskiing in the summer and don’t have to ride in the cold and the wet in the winter so it keeps things fresh and fun.”
He does feel a push to decide between the two from a lot of different people but not his number one supporters – friends and family. “Where we grew up, we always did both.”
His twin brother, Evan, is also a mountain biker, mostly doing downhill racing, and is more involved with their local junior development program.
Elliott would like to keep doing both sports for as long as he can. “I’m having a blast. I’ve met really great people and have made really good friends so I want to keep doing it and keep it fun.”
Currently Elliott is not at school but if he were to go back for courses, he’d like to study chemistry.
This year marks his last year in the U-23 category in both mountain biking and skiing. “It was nice to race just your own category but we all have to grow up sometime,” he said with a laugh. Judging from the results Elliott is posting, he will likely have no problem moving up to race against the elites.