Madeline Robbins wouldn’t let an injury or a fire slow down her 2018 mountain bike season. She rode all the way into the world championships and turned heads along the way.
Robbins, better known as Maddie Jo, was nominated by Durango High School and selected by Sportswomen of Colorado’s board of directors for her outstanding achievement in mountain biking. She will be honored Sunday at the Denver Marriott Tech Center as one of 40 women to be recognized by Sportswomen of Colorado for the 2018 year.
“I’m pretty excited for this unique opportunity,” Robbins said. “I’m stoked to see everyone else and all the other winners.
“When I initially got the email from the Sportswomen association, it surprised me. It’s cool that even though I’ve been injured that there’s still people out there advocating for me.”
Robbins, who was named the 2017-18 Durango Herald Female Athlete of the Year, had a standout 2018 season after she won the high school mountain bike state championship in 2017. She won the junior women’s 18-and-under cross-country mountain bike national championship despite a torn scaphoid ligament in her left wrist that impaired the use of her thumb. Still, she powered through the injury to compete at nationals and eventually the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland, where she placed 34th after an early crash sent her back from sixth place. Earlier that year, she also placed first at a UCI junior series cross-country mountain bike race in Utah.
She was selected by USA Cycling to compete in three Canada Cup events, where she made the podium in all three races.
Earlier in 2018, Robbins also placed fourth in the girls giant slalom and slalom alpine ski races at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Championships.
Though Robbins wasn’t able to compete during the 2018 high school cycling league races or during alpine ski season after tendon graft surgery left her with three screws and a pin in her wrist, her body of achievements made her a standout candidate for the Sportswomen of Colorado award.
“Maddie Jo is the type of student athlete you love having in your program,” DHS athletic director Adam Bright said. “She goes about her work in a manner in which she puts all she has into everything she does. She may seem quiet, but it might just be because she is examining your game and looking for your weakness.
“I have loved watching her compete and look forward to watching her get the recognition she undoubtedly deserves Sunday evening in Denver. To be at an awards banquet that has Olympians, professional, college and high school athletes and to see one of our own from Durango High School share the stage with someone like Lindsey Vonn is absolutely outstanding and well deserved for Maddie Jo.”
While Robbins battled the injury, she also had to do much of her training indoors during the 416 Fire that closed trails and created dangerous air quality during the summer. All of the adversity didn’t prevent her from being at her best when it mattered most.
“It’s been an incredible year of learning,” she said. “With the injury and the fire, there were always obstacles in the way. I learned, physically and mentally, how to push through that.
“With the injury, it happened late enough in the year that I was still able to accomplish my goals. With the fire, that was pretty intense. We had to evacuate and were staying at someone else’s house. I also have a weird smoke allergy, and that made it super hard, too. If I rode my bike, I would do more damage than good. It was hard to figure out training without being able to ride a bunch in the moment.”
Robbins is one of three cyclists who will be honored along with cyclocross star Katie Compton of Colorado Springs and ultra-distance cyclist Julie Lyons.
Twelve special awards also will be handed out Sunday, highlighted by Becky Hammon, the assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, receiving the Dorothy Mauk Pioneer Award. The former Colorado State and WNBA standout has received interviews to be a head coach in the NBA. Lindsey Vonn also will receive the perseverance award.
Robbins is among the women who could be named as the Sportswoman of the Year, an honor won last year by star skier Mikaela Shiffrin for the third time in her career.
Sunday is the 45th Sportswomen of Colorado awards celebration. Robbins said she is eager to meet the other women and was honored to be nominated despite being from a non-traditional team sports background.
“I’m thankful to know that they pay attention to sports that aren’t typical high school sports and that they care about it,” she said. “I appreciate that people still advocated for me though mountain biking is not a traditional sport. It shows Durango has more to it and that people recognize that.
“Being one of the younger people there, it’s going to be cool to learn from the other women and hear their wisdom and just learn how the pros manage to get to the top of their game and stay there for so long and keep the joy of it.”