Coroner determines cause of death for racer who collapsed during Steamboat Stinger |

Coroner determines cause of death for racer who collapsed during Steamboat Stinger

Andrew Balika, a 45-year-old man from Littleton, died Saturday during the Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race on Emerald Mountain. He suffered a "sudden cardiac death" due to complications from a family medical condition, according to Routt County coroner Rob Ryg.
File photo/Ben Ingersoll

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — An autopsy performed in Routt County on Monday determined the cause of death for a man who collapsed Saturday during the Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race.

Andrew Balika, 45, of Littleton suffered a “sudden cardiac death,” Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg confirmed Tuesday.

At around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded to a report of a man in need of CPR in a remote area of Emerald Mountain.

According to Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar, Balika had stopped by an aid station during the race near the intersection of the Beall and Ridge trails.

“He was talking to one of the race coordinators, and he just fell over,” Scherar said Saturday.

Race staff performed CPR until first responders arrived. Steamboat firefighters continued resuscitation efforts, but they were unsuccessful.

During the autopsy, Ryg found the man had blockage in his arteries, a genetic condition, which he said contributed to Balika’s sudden death.

“His dad had the same thing at his age,” Ryg explained, though Balika’s father is still alive.

Ryg said the man was otherwise in excellent physical shape.

The incident temporarily closed a portion of the 50-mile bike race course, according to Steamboat Fire Rescue officials.

Honey Stinger, the Steamboat-based company organizing the event, said in a social media post that Sunday’s running race would continue as scheduled. Before the race, participants and organizers shared a moment of silence in honor of Balika, according to company co-owner Rich Hager.

In the social media post, Honey Stinger expressed condolences to the man’s family and friends.

“First responders were on the scene immediately to assist in medical care, but unfortunately, were unable to revive the rider,” the company wrote on Facebook. “In the wake of this tragic incident, our entire team at Honey Stinger sends our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the rider and to all who knew and rode with him.”

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