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Sports / Recreation

Ram wins national mountain biking championship

July 23, 2009

It takes a certain kind of skill and talent to ride full speed for 24 miles through steep and rugged bike trails in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Technical climbs, twisting and turning curves, and hazardous downgrades are just a few of the challenges. But Colorado State's Jon Vivolo recently out-performed the country's best with his talent and his bike, and in the process won a national championship.

 Mountain cross-country champ

Jon Vivolo, a Colorado State health and exercise science senior and member of CSU Rams Cycling, coasted to victory July 18 at SolVista near Granby, Colo., winning the 2009 Category 1 USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Cross Country Championship.

A safe 6 minutes and 58 seconds ahead of his nearest competition when he crossed the finish line, Vivolo made the grueling 24-mile course full of rocky, climbing, twisting, and turning terrain look easy, devouring the course in just 2 hours, 20 minutes, 56 seconds.

“I went into the race feeling pretty confident, but I was still surprised about a mile from the finish to look around and see no one else in sight,” Vivolo says.

(Photo: Jon Vivolo, center, July 18.)

Violent spill during Super D

The next day’s Super D (best described as a downhill cross-country race), didn’t turn out to be nearly the satisfying, sweet ride for Vivolo. He took a violent spill over his bike handlebars just 30-40 seconds from the finish line during the July 19 national Super D competition. He's now recovering from a separated shoulder in his hometown of Grand Junction,

Disappointed, but finding solace from his cross-country national championship, Vivolo has a little extra down time on his hands before classes start in August.

Ram tough and on the mend

Recalling the unlucky crash, Vivolo says, “I remember hitting the jump too fast, overshooting the landing, and flipping over the handlebars. My helmet was destroyed.”

(Photo: Start of race on July 18.)

A resulting trip to the nearby emergency room required some intravenous fluids, tender loving care for the biting red road rash on his back, and treatment for a separated shoulder. However, graduating in December with a concentration in sports medicine, Vivolo knows a bit about doing what it takes to recover and looks forward to getting back on the bike and joining his Rams Cycling teammates in the fall.

Looking toward career in medicine

Intent on enjoying his new mountain biking success and continuing his cycling career, this USA Cycling champ also has plans for a future career in medicine, possibly as an osteopathic physician. With the MCAT’s already behind him and medical school applications almost ready for the mail, Vivolo is now thinking he may take a year off after his December CSU graduation to enjoy and pursue his professional racing career.

It’s not just about the bike

No rookie in the classroom, this athletic, smart champion with a solid 3.76 GPA is happy and proud he came to Colorado State. “I really liked the atmosphere and people at CSU when I was deciding which college to attend,” Vivolo says.

(Photo: Jon Vivolo, front, leads the race.)

“I also talked to a few guys who had completed the sports medicine program, and they had good things to say. Plus, the biking opportunities, particularly Cameron Pass, made Fort Collins the perfect fit for me,” Vivolo adds.

Rams Cycling launches success

Vivolo credits the Rams Cycling sport club with launching his cycling career. “I’d been biking all my life, but it wasn’t until I joined Rams Cycling that I got into serious racing,” says Vivolo. “I encourage any student interested in cycling – at any level – to join Rams Cycling. It got me to this point as a professional athlete.”

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