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Wonder Girl

Published on: March 17th, 2011

I ask Ksenia Lepikhina when she has time to sleep. She giggles and shrugs. Her parents laugh. The 8th-grader at Boulder Country Day School has classes and homework like any other kid her age.

But she’s also busy training in preparation for this year’s mountain biking national championships as well as dozens of mountain biking and cyclocross races throughout the spring and summer.

Lepikhina is the two-time junior national champion in mountain biking in her age group—in both 2009 and 2010. She joined Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures when she was 9, and she now trains every day of the week. In the summer, mountain biking is practically a full-time job. She also trains for cyclocross two days a week and will spend most weekends this summer competing. She placed fifth in the cyclocross nationals last year; she rides for Boulder Junior Cycling. She also runs cross country, and she took 10th out of 445 kids in her age group in the 2010 Bolder Boulder. She’s competitive in skiing as well.

“A lot of people think it’s all about the competition,” she said. “But it’s fun. I love being outdoors. It’s a good way to get to go places, to travel.”

There are not many girls competing in cyclocross and even fewer in mountain biking. While Lepikhina competes against other girls her age, she trains with boys. Through the years, she’s pushed herself to keep up with them and has improved nicely—“I like riding with the boys.”

Her parents instilled a passion for sports and the outdoors in the 13-year-old, who was born in Russia and came to the United States as a baby. As a family, they ski, ride, climb and run together. Maksim and Marina Lepikhina said they want her to grow up with a passion for sports. They enjoy seeing her work toward a goal (or goals) and achieve them. More and more, they say, they can’t keep up with her.

Ksenia Lepikhina attributes her athletic successes to the hard work she’s put in.

“This is something I’ve talked with my parents about. I don’t believe that you are born with natural talent,” she says. “You have to practice. You have to work hard.”

“It’s the desire not to quit,” Marina adds. “There are races when the wind is awful or there is snow, and she is still going. She’s crying but she’s still going.”

She knows her strengths—endurance and climbing—and she works to have good all-around strength. In four years, she wants to go to the mountain bike world championships, and someday she would like to compete in the Olympics.

Any thing else, I ask?

“I also love to paint,” she adds with a smile.

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