Race Report: Mitch Ropelato & Jill Kintner Win Purgatory Big Mountain Enduro

Aug 30, 2021
by BigMtn Enduro  
Words and Photos by Eddie Clark

After a 5 year hiatus, the Yeti Cycles Big Mountain Enduro Series presented by Maxxis returned to Purgatory Resort in the heart of the Colorado San Juan Mountains to host two days of the most challenging enduro racing yet. On Saturday, racers took on four timed stages with 1500+ feet of climbing thrown into the transitions. For the second day, racers tackled a massive 14 mile start transition with unrelenting climbs to an elevation of over 11,000 feet where they would then descend a remote bakccountry stage of high country singletrack which saw the fastest pro times coming in at over 8 minutes before another big pedal back to Purgatory to contest stage 6. Notably, the newly built World Cup DH trail was raced twice for stages 3 and 6. The aptly named World Cup DH trail along with stage four's Links trail easily featured the steepest rowdiest terrain ever raced at a Big Mountain Enduro- words just can't describe, but hopefuly the photos will.

A 1500 foot climb with a wheelie on top is no problemo for the junior racers!
Israel McDowell gets a little sendy on the first drop of stage 1.

Mike West picked up another win for a commanding lead on the Masters overall series.

Alex Petitdemange kept West honest on his way to taking 2nd in the Masters racing for the weekend.
Fellow Frenchman Arnaud Petament claimed the top spot in the Expert class.

Fiona Dougherty broke onto the BME Pro Women's scene to claim 4th overall on the weekend.

Essence Jasperse was another new face to the Pro Women's podium with great riding to take 3rd overall.

Pro Men 4th overall, Warren Kniss, demonstrates one way to send it on stage 1.
While current USA National Champ Cody Kelley shows another way to keep it low and fast over the same stage 1 booter.

Porsha Murdock straight hucking on one of the numerous drops of stage 3. Porsha rode on to claim a solid P5 for the women this weekend.

Kera Linn also giving it a good huck on stage 3.
Jill Kintner has fully recovered from her hand injury, and quickly returned to her dominating ways with a first appearance at the Big Mountain Enduro.

Lauren Bingham rolled in to claim P8 for the Pro Women.
BME frequent flyer Colton Peterson airs it out on his way to P6 in the Pro Men's overall.

And then came Mitch, hot fast and smooth as ever since recently making some adjustments to his bike to get it extremely dialed in to his liking.

The hard work finally started to pay off for upcomer Shane Leslie as he'd race to his BME highest placing yet with a 3rd overall in the Pro Men.
U21 Women's winner Ari Soto navigates the steep gnarly rocks of stage 4 Links trail.

Asa Vermette sends it for the Groms on stage 4 to take a big win with some big air this weekend.

Jill Kintner riding with authority now that her left hand is good to go. She won the Pro Women's race with a very respectable margin.

Saturday's racing was all the convincing Kate Lawrence needed to let off the gas and giver her body some much needed rest and recovery from the injuries she's sustained this season. We'll all be cheering for her to come back stronger and faster next season.
Quinn Reece riding to P7 for the Pro Men this weekend.

Cody Kelley was riding all-out this weekend, and would claim another BME podium with a hard earned P2.

One of the longer and also prettier BME transitions that took racers deep into the backcountry.
Unknown Grom racer painting a happy line on the stage 5 singletrack just like Bob Ross would paint a happy tree.

The aid station on the stage 5 transition made a plenty good heckle zone for racers as it crossed paths with the timed stage.
Big backcountry views for a big backcountry stage.

Kera Linn rocking it down stage 6 for P2 in the Pro Women's class.

Stef McDaniel taking P7 for the Pro Women.
Just 2 seconds off the podium for Lia Westermann, but expect to see her higher up in the results as the next stop will be in her home state of Utah.

Colorado gravity pro, Brian Buell, is back on the scene and getting up to speed again as evidenced with his P8 finish in the Pro Men's race.
Former BME series winner, Evan Geankoplis, seems to also be getting back up to speed as he got on the podium this weekend at P5.

Mitch Ropelato was on a heater of a ride this weekend, and took 5 out of 6 stage wins to claim the top spot on the podium.

Full Results Here.


  • 22 0
 Well organized race in an awesome spot! Congrats to BME and Ski Purgatory, this is what every enduro events should be like (lot of bike time and a variety of stages). Can't wait to see what's next!
  • 10 0
 Just for fun, take a look at the number of people that didn't take the start line or didn't finish. I was helping with something else, and heard about people dropping. This was the race to do. BME, keep progressing. Thanks Purg.
  • 2 0
 Nearly half the field of 400 racers either DNF or DNS
  • 1 0
 @rastar: The pro field was pretty lite too
  • 11 0
 Good race. Gnarly stages. Glad we didn’t get rain, those chutes would have been carnage!
  • 6 0
 Jill Is unreal. This bike handling skills of her enable her to win at anything!
  • 2 1
 THOSE bike handing skills....
  • 3 0
 So freaking stoked to have this event at my home mountain and watch some absolute senders smash the lines that regularly scare the crap out of me. Purg bike park crew is killing it the last few seasons to bring back some of that former glory of what was once a World Cup venue. Lynx trail alone is worth a trip out here if you like to get vertical!
  • 6 0
 Shane Leslie aint no upcomer
  • 3 0
 I agree!!! Shane Leslie is no upcomer. Been following Shane for a couple of years and so stoked he made the podium. Congrats!!
  • 1 0
 Looks amazing. Was that 1500' per transition (so about 6,000') for the 4 stage day? Or 1500' total? The 6,000' seems right proper, with 1,500' seeming incredibly short for an enduro. How much vert logged in that 14 mile day 2 transition? That would be an epic start to a day.
  • 3 0
 @ridingloam it was 2x1500 first day and 25miles 2600 for the backcountry stage. We only used the chair twice to do the World Cup dh
  • 4 1
 Are all the dns slots paid for? I see people trying to sell entries all the time. They sell out so quick but then so many flake out or get scared.
  • 5 0
 OLD MAN MIKE WEST strikes again.
  • 6 0
 That helmet visor
  • 1 0
 Hopefully the story behind that has a happy ending
  • 4 0
 I bet that DH stage was GNARLY!
  • 1 10
flag Skippy24 Outside+ (Aug 30, 2021 at 12:50) (Below Threshold)
 Just wondering if you made the same comment in the articles/photo recaps about the World Championships or Audi 9 events?
  • 18 0
 @Skippy24: I'm wondering if your favorite is Chunky or Smooth? Or are you one of those kids that is allergic to deez nuts?
  • 6 0
 @Skippy24: this was a proper gnarly amateur level event, much different. Those stages were straight up scary for mortals like me.
  • 1 1
 Multiple pics of the same podium people, but no love for Fionathe bikergirl (4th place women's pro) who was sitting 2nd with multiple 2nd place stage finishes going into the last stage. I guess you gotsta be on a team for exposure.
  • 2 0
 I'm sure love would to be given for all 350 racers, but I guess you can't make everyone happy.
  • 1 0
 @twilhelms: Just the pro podium, T. That's all
  • 1 0
 @twilhelms: moreover, I was wrong anyway lol she's in there
  • 1 0
 RED Rear Sram Brake Caliper on Mitch's bike.......
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