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NORBA US national series #5 - E2

Schweitzer Resort, Idaho, USA, July 16-17, 2005

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The Races

NORBA National Series returns to Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho

Steve Medcroft

Now that UCI World Cup competition has moved on from its three stops in the Americas (Monte Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Balneario Cambroriu, Brazil and Angel Fire, New Mexico, USA), the western world's top mountain bikers once again take each other on in the U.S. NORBA National Series. The stop in at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho (July 15-17) features the fourth NORBA cross country, short track and marathon races and the second downhill and mountain cross and third super D events.

Schweitzer Mountain overlooks Sandpoint Idaho in the Idaho Panhandle; a 90-minute drive from Spokane Washington. The resort sits at 4,700 feet; which is a break for the riders in the field fresh of the eight to ten thousand feet elevations at Angel Fire. Racecourses extend up the mountain to just over 6,400 feet.

After three rounds in the NORBA cross country series, 2004 U.S. Olympic Team member and reigning U.S. Cross Country and Short Track National Champion, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) holds the points lead. Horgan-Kobelski is fully recovered from his horrific crash at this year's Sea Otter Classic and recently placed fifth in the cross country race at Angel Fire; his best World Cup finish ever.

Horgan-Kobelski's lead in the series is a slim 13 points over recently-crowned Canadian National Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) though. At Angel Fire, Kabush came second behind World Cup Series winner Christophe Sauser (Siemens Cannondale); showing dangerous mid-season form.

Sue Haywood (Trek - VW.) is the series leader in the women's cross country standings ahead of Willow Koerber (Subaru - Gary Fisher) and Tokyo Joe's Heather Irmiger.

In the gravity events, five Australian riders are ranked in the top six in the men's downhill series standings, led by current points leader Jared Graves (Yeti Cycles). He took the series in the first event (Park City, Utah) over Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross, Honda). Since that win, Minaar has gone on to take three World Cups in a row and seal the UCI World Cup Downhill Series, edging the same Graves out in two of the races by less than a second each time.

Schweitzer boasts what Minaar called one of the roughest downhill courses on the world circuit because it is wide open, not overly technical, and can sap a rider's energy unexpectedly. Meaning the course requires fitness to succeed so it should set the stage for a dramatic showdown between Graves and Minaar as they both try to carry momentum into the World Championships (Aug 28 - Sep 4 in Livigno, Italy).

Geritt Beytagh (Ashville, N.C.) is the top American downhiller in the standings in eighth place. Canadian Michelle Dumaresq leads the women's downhill category while Lisa Myklak (Boulder, Colo.) is the top American in third place.

Schweitzer weekend is also the site of a number of qualifying events for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships this September in Mammoth California so hundreds of amateur riders will also race Schweitzer hoping to earn an invitation to compete for a stars and stripes jersey.