Durango’s National, World Champions & Olympians

July 2021 has proved to be the winningest July in Durango history!

We say Durango has more national, world champions and Olympians than any town in the country.

We proved this to be true at the opening ceremonies of the US Pro Challenge bike race in 2016 when we gathered many of these champions from running, biking, skiing, kayak and of course, biking.

Since that time, the number has increased dramatically. As a town we market the best of our community, the geography and the people. Our community has created a culture that supports athletes at their highest level, especially those that our participating in outdoor recreation pursuits. Click here for a list of National & World Champions and Olympians from Durango.

Ed Zink helped identify this strength for Durango and launched a culture of cycling that continues today.

From watching Durango local Sepp Kuss win Stage 15 of the Tour de France (and then watching the NBC feature of his parents Dolph and Sabina the following day!) to seeing DEVO riders show up in endless ways to toe the start line and give it their best, our legacy and culture of Durango champions runs deep and leaves us proud in so many ways.

A long legacy of Durango Olympians

As we head towards the Summer Olympics, we can include Durango locals Zachary Lokken to represent the US for the canoe slalom team and Christoper Blevins to represent the US for the mens mountain bike team in Tokyo.

Durango has a long legacy of Olympians, including United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 1964. In 1996, when mountain biking became a full medal sport, former Durango resident Juli Furtado made the first mountain bike team.

Then in 2000, Durango hometown hero and resident Travis Brown represented the US along with Durango Resident Ruthie Matthes.

In 2004 Durango resident Todd Wells took the Olympic and again in 2008 and 2012. Durango resident Howard Grotts followed up in the 2016 games, and now Christopher Blevins in 2020.

Other National, World Champions and Olympians from Durango:

Former United States Senator and Olympian Ben Nighthorse Campbell, 1964 summer games, Judo

Three time Olympian, Mike Elliott; 1964, ‘68, and ‘72 winter games, Nordic Skiing

Two time Olympic Coach, Dolph Kuss, 1964 and 1972, Nordic Combined

National Champion, Allen P. Small, Nordic Skiing

National Champion, Diane Legner, Nordic Skiing

Olympian, Greg Lyman, 1972 winter games, Speed Skating

Two time Olympian, Ron Yeager, 1972 and 1976 winter games, Nordic Skiing

World Champion, Patty Lyman, Speed Skating

26 time Master National Champion, Dennis O’Brien, Swimming

Two time World Champion, Kent Ford, Canoe Slalom

Three time National Champion, Andy Corra, Kayak

Six time NORBA cross-country mountain bike national champion Ned Overend, who became the first-ever cross-country world champion by winning the inaugural UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in 1990 in Durango

Two time Olympian, Cathy Hearn, 1992 and 1996 summer games, slalom kayak

World Champion Cutting Horse Rider and Trainer, Willie Richardson, 1996, while on his beloved horse and friend, Sonitalena  

Three time Olympian, Elaine Youngs, 1996, 2004, and 2008 summer games, Beach Volleyball

Two time Olympian, Chris Thorpe, 1998 and 2002 winter games, Luge

Two time Collegiate National Champion, Amber Blake, Rowing

Two time Olympian, Elva Martinez-Dryer, 2000 and 2004 summer games; Track and Field

Five time Masters National Champion, Walt Axthelm, Cyclocross

Olympian, Tracey Barnes, 2006 winter games; Biathlon

Two time Olympian, Lanny Barnes, 2006 and 2010 winter games; Biathlon

Olympic Coach Gary Colliander, 2010 winter games, Women’s Biathlon

Collegiate National Champion Coach, Dave Hagen, Cycling

Accumulating 15 NORBA National race wins and three NORBA Series Championship titles, Shonny Vanlandingham is the most successful rider in NORBA history. A 7-time U.S. National Mountain Bike Team Member, 3x (2004-06) NORBA National Series X-Country Champ & 2005 U.S. National Short Track Champ as well as World Xterra Champion in 2010.

Making an impact in the sport of cycling with Durango ties

Numerous mechanics, coaches, promoters, designers and builders support any successful development program.  The following people with ties to Durango have had an impact on the sport of cycling:

Juli Furtado–World Champion downhill and cross-country

Daryl Price— Mountain Bike Champion and bike Industry sales executive

Scott Daubert— Team mechanic, manager

Forest Yelverton-Olympic project designer

John Parker–Tesigner, builder

Peter Graves–Olympic announcer

Eric Moore–Director of NORBA

Mert Lawill–Designer, builder

David Farmer–International coach

Ed Zink–Promoter, official, all-around guru

Tyler Philger–Mechanic, manager

Gunner Conrad–Photographer

Dean Howard–Photographer

Bill Manning–Trail designer

Tom Mayer–Inventor

Dr. Frank Jarrell–Chiropractor, D.C.

Mary Monroe–Bike Industry Executive and Executive Director Trails 2000

Matt Phillips–Editor of Bicycling Magazine

Bob Gregario–Mountain Bike Pro’s mechanic, Mountain Bike Hall of Fame


Chad Cheeney – DEVO Co-Founder and Coach

Dave Hagen  FLC Coach

Gaige Sippy-Iron Horse Race Director

Steve Owens – Colorado Premier Training

Aaron Urquidez – BS-KINE, NSCA-CPT, NASM-PES

If we did not list you, please fill out the following form to be included!

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