Exeter native and former U.S. Olympic mountain biker Adam Craig rides a trail at Sugarloaf Mountain. Craig has been hired to promote gravity mountain biking at the resort, working with organizers to bring races and other mountain bike events to Sugarloaf. Credit: Courtesy of Craig Milliman

Sugarloaf Mountain’s efforts to develop itself as a major mountain biking destination has gained a boost with the announcement that it will host one of two American stops on the 2022 Enduro World Series tour.

The races at the western Maine resort, scheduled for Aug. 20-21, 2022, will be one of 11 events on the global circuit, which also will feature stops in Australia, Europe and Canada.

The Sugarloaf EWS will come one week after a similar event Aug. 13-14, 2022, at Burke Mountain, Vermont, marking the first time the series has made back-to-back stops in the United States.

“We’re extremely excited to welcome the Enduro World Series to Sugarloaf in 2022,” Sugarloaf general manager Karl Strand said. “Carrabassett Valley is home to the best mountain biking in the state of Maine, and we’re looking forward to showing it off to the best riders on the planet.”

Sugarloaf also will host one of the official qualifying events for the Enduro World Series late this summer. The Maxxis Eastern States Cup Box Showdown is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Former U.S. Olympic mountain biker Adam Craig, an Exeter native and former EWS participant, recently was hired to lead Sugarloaf’s mountain biking efforts. He is working to develop a five-stage race using a variety of terrain for that event, which will be coupled with a downhill race at Sugarloaf on the same date.

Enduro mountain biking is a relatively new form of the sport, with the first reported race taking place in Europe in 2003. Enduro races typically involve several timed stages over rugged courses that are predominantly downhill, linked by untimed but mandatory transfer stages that are largely uphill.

Enduro combines the technical skills required of downhill racing with the physical fitness required of cross-country racing.

Sugarloaf officials announced in February 2020 their plans for a new downhill mountain bike park as part of its Sugarloaf 2030 Development Plan. Designing and planning for that effort are underway, with construction expected to begin in the summer of 2022.

Work on its Enduro World Series race course will take place over the next 12 months under Craig’s guidance.

A former top-ranked American on the International Cycling Union’s World Cup circuit, Craig represented the United States at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

He competed around the globe on top cross country and slalom race courses for more than a decade. After illness curtailed his bid for a return trip to the Olympics at the 2012 Summer Games in London, he switched his competitive focus to enduro racing.

In his first year, Craig finished ninth in the 2013 Enduro World Series championships, and he continued to race until retiring from competition in 2017 — though he has maintained close ties with the sport since then.

The Enduro World Series has announced what it described as its most ambitious schedule to date, with four new locations in 2022 including Sugarloaf as well as the season-opening stop in Maydena, Tasmania, next March.

The schedule features several geographic blocs, beginning with a three-race Southern Hemisphere swing in March and April and four events in Europe during June and July.

A three-race North America leg follows in August, beginning Aug. 6-7 in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, and then traveling across the continent for the East Coast stops at Burke Mountain and Sugarloaf the following two weekends.

The EWS will return to Europe for the conclusion of its schedule next year with stops in Switzerland, France and Italy in late September and early October.

“We’ve been working to learn and evolve through 2020 and 2021 and have put as much of that experience into a new, exciting and innovative calendar for 2022,” Enduro World Series managing director Chris Ball said.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...