Hart is the new Silver King
The Silver Kings Hard Enduro returned for a second year at the Silver Mountain ski resort in Kellogg, Idaho. James Stearns and the Inside Enduro crew began working on the courses before the snow fell last fall. Thanks to a mild spring and scheduling the race one weekend back, there was more time for them to get all of those trails tied together. This popular race sold out at 500 entries over six weeks before the flag dropped, resulting in the largest turnout of the 2023 USHE season. The Silver Kings was also the final round of the IRC US Hard Enduro Premier Championship, Presented by Klim, in addition to the fifth round of the AMA West Hard Enduro Series, Presented by Beta.
The Silver Kings format was adjusted a bit from last year’s to improve upon the experience for both the amateur racers and Pros. They placed the ten classes in 4 different course categories; Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. These four course categories allowed for racers to experience different levels of difficulty, which resulted in an improved experience and a good amount of finishers in the amateur classes.
The race started with a Prologue on Friday morning, where racers raced a short course that took approximately 15-30 minutes, depending on the course level. The results from this decided the running orders for Friday afternoon’s Bronze/Iron main race and Saturday’s Gold/Silver main race. On Friday afternoon, the amateurs remained on top of the mountain to race a four hour Bronze/Iron main event that was on a very fun and challenging course across the ski resort. The 12 mile course featured epic single track, technical climbs, steep downhills, and plenty of talus fields to challenge the amateur riders.
The top-32 Gold class (Pro) finishers from Friday’s Prologue were placed in a tournament bracket for a Street Rhythm enduro cross that was built on the road in front of the Silver Mountain lodge and gondola house. The Silver Kings crew pre-built the majority of the course in an empty lot a couple streets over, then on race day setting up and tearing down the entire course on Bunker Ave. within 12 hours. They started in single elimination format, then when they got down to the top-16, they went to double elimination to increase the drama and the amount of races on the course. There were plenty of heated battles throughout the evening in front of a big crowd, but it was Rockstar Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker who came out on top.
Sharing the podium with him was Rieju’s Alfredo Gomez and Factory1 Sherco’s Cody Webb. The results from the Street Rhythm also became the running order for Saturday’s main race.
The Gold/Silver main race on Saturday was formatted as a single lap race with a six hour time cutoff. There were seven timed checkpoints on the courses that allowed racers to still get a time if they didn’t complete the entire course. Both the Gold and Silver courses were majorly refined from the previous year, as the Silver Kings course building team had more time to create a course system and add in new sections that increased the technicality but also improved the racer’s experience. The racers left in rows of four, starting on the elaborate enduro cross course they built on top of the mountain. Colton Haaker grabbed an early lead, but was followed closely by Webb, Gomez, Ryder LeBlond, and a charging Trystan Hart, who started on the second row. In the first 20 minutes, Haaker accidentally took a wrong turn and was led down the wrong split course, losing the lead and valuable time. Hart didn’t take long to get up front and get in a groove that has been a common theme with him in the US Hard Enduro Series. He pulled away and kept increasing his lead by every checkpoint, not making many mistakes and tackling these near-impossible sections with a blistering pace. There was a battle for the podium positions between Webb and LeBlond, who went back and forth a few times, but the young LeBlond ended up passing Webb on a hill called King Slayer, and didn’t look back from there.
Hart crossed the finish line right under three hours, and had plenty of great things to say about the race course and difficulty of the terrain, even comparing the race experience to the Erzberg Rodeo. It was LeBlond who came in second place, 40 minutes behind Hart and 10 minutes in front of third place finisher Cody Webb. The intense terrain and constant difficulty of this big mountain race resulted in some separation between the top-10, as the early battles in the race didn’t hold up as they went further along. In the Pro Women’s class, who competed on the Silver Course, it was GAS GAS’ Kylee Sweeten who took the win, with Hallie Marks and Melissa Harten finishing second and third, respectively.
The second year of the Silver Kings Hard Enduro didn’t disappoint, as the event organizers raised the level of competition for the racers and pageantry for the spectators, resulting in a great weekend of racing. The AMA West Hard Enduro Series, Presented by Beta USA wraps up at the Donner Hard Enduro on September 16-17, in Norden, California.