19 December 2011

A study of Yannick Eckmann

A true talent shines through as the new Colorado CX Champ
Yannick Eckmann stands out in a crowd. Every so often an athlete comes along who appears to have the right stuff. It is apparent when you watch their body in motion that they are not like the others. Those who work equally as hard, strive to improve, yearn to achieve, want to be the one who has got it all, but are not. No matter what else happens in their life outside their sport, there are certain athletes with a recognizable gift who are destined to be great in competition. 
When I watched Yannick Eckmann compete yesterday at the Alpha Cross Colorado State Cyclocross Championships, his pedal stroke, body position, bike handling skills, steady strength, and sense of ease put him way ahead of the SM Open field. Earning him the state championship in a field of decorated cyclists. Plus he looked like he was having fun out there on course, evident as he caught air off the backside of the flyover. Yannick Eckmann is the real deal at age 18
Yes, that is right Yannick is only 18 years old (November 30, 1993). His parents were there yesterday to cheer their son in full support; thank you for buying him his first bike! I sometimes think it a miracle when any young person finds their gift so early in life. I hope his path into the future is a good one, full of individuals able to help develop his talent, and void of barriers that too often threaten the careers of star athletes. "He looks like a natural up there," I commented to his mother as he stood on the top step of the podium yesterday, "yes" she smiled sweetly in recognition of her son's talent.
Currently riding for the Pearl Izumi/Shimano cyclocross team, Yannick was born in Germany where he began mountain biking at a very young age with his older brother Robin, an accomplished cyclist himself. The family moved to the United States in 2005. Yannick is a full-time student at Boulder High School, yet manages to travel around the country and Europe to compete in races. He also races road, but as his mother commented in delight yesterday, "he likes the mud." It is good that someone has found a use for mud. 
In his first year after competing as a Junior, Yannick Eckmann ended up second in the U23 (under 23) 2011 Exergy Cyclocross US Grand Prix (results) behind Zach McDonald (Rapha/Focus), who is 2 years his senior. Cody Kaiser (Calgiant/Specialized), another promising U23 rider, came in third. We will be seeing much more of these three athletes in the years ahead. Move over Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers, Tim Johnson, Geoff Kabush, and Jamey Driscoll, the next wave of CX riders is closing in.
Yannick Eckmann at the USGP in Longmont, Colorado, October 2011 
Yannick Eckmann, Longmont, CO, Oct 2011
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Images from yesterday, 18 December 2011. The new Colorado State CX Champion at age 19:
Yannick Eckmann over the barriers (he runs a lot to train)
©Photo by PedalDancer.com

Yannick Eckmann jumping the mud
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Yannick Eckmann around the corner
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Yannick Eckmann down the hill
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Yannick Eckmann up the hill
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Yannick Eckmann lap after lap in the lead
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Yannick and his Mother after the race
©Photo by PedalDancer.com 
There is so much in his future
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
The Champion
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
2011 Colorado State Championships Cyclocross
Peter Weber, Yannick Eckmann, Allen Krughoff
©Photo by PedalDancer.com
Watch the race video from Onsight Media / Boulder Video

Related reading: 
Meet the Eckmanns by PodiumInsight (2009)  
Yannick Eckmann’s Breakout Season by Focus Bikes (2011)  

Yannick Eckmann reminds me of a freestyle mogul skier on the bumps - eyes far ahead, down the hill, his body instinctively knows where it is at, his brain has already processed what is below him, his focus is meters up the road at what is coming next. Makes for a great cyclocross racer, and a great talent for us to watch into the future.