MTB News & racing round-up for August 31, 2005, part 1
Edited by Steve Medcroft
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Mount Snow Wrap Up
By Steve Medcroft
Promoters Team Big Bear and Blue Wolf Events handed out NORBA National
Series Championship awards at Mount Snow, Vermont series Finale last weekend.
In all, ten racers took home titles, some just one, some more than one.
Some competitions were settled half way through the season, others came
down to the last second of the last race. Either way it happened, here
are the 2005 NORBA National Series Champions:
Once Kabush (Maxxis) turned it
Photo ©: Travis Drennen
Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis), Cross Country, Short Track – Kabush
got a fast start to the season, placing third then first in the first
two Cross Country races and winning the first two Short Tracks. But after
a stint in road racing and a poor showing in the springtime European World
Cups, he seemed to fade a little. His Short Track lead was never truly
challenged though and he carried a 100-point lead into the final weekend.
In Cross Country, things were a little closer. After taking the lead from
Adam Craig (Giant) in the second race, he traded it back and forth with
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru – Gary Fisher) through the run of high-altitude
NORBA’s (Schweitzer, Snowmass, Brian Head). Kabush reclaimed it with a
win in Snowshoe after JHK crashed. The lead allowed Kabush to ride defensively
at the finals to win his second Cross Country series in a row.
Jared Graves (Yeti), Mountain Cross, Downhill – The likeable twenty-two
year old Australian downhiller from Toowoomba swept the men’s gravity
races. In downhill, he placed on the podium in all six series races. His
only true challenge, although they were 100 points behind by the finals,
came from countryman Joel Panozzo (WTB Fox Shox) and Kiwi John Kirkcaldie
(Team Maxxis). Neither racer nor luck could derail Graves though and even
though he fell third to two Americans in the finale (teammate Duncan Riffle
and Cody Warren of Haro Bicycles), his series victory was a cruise. Graves
held a similar grip over the Mountain Cross competition, winning three
of the six races including the finale.
Mike West (Maverick), Super D – Mike West, part of the Maverick
(a Boulder, Colorado suspension maker) sponsored racing team that boasts
of a certain freedom to pursue events and race categories that the riders
find personally interesting, seems taken by Super D. After earning a spot
on the podium at the first race (Tapatio Springs, Texas), he went on to
win every other Super D but the finale and the Snowshoe race he skipped.
Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), Marathon - From a points perspective,
the Marathon series was up for grabs as late as the last race in Snowshoe,
West Virginia. Ford/Specialized rider Jay Henry actually held a slim lead
in the series after beating Eatough, the endurance specialist, at Snowmass
and Schweitzer. But Henry was given the option to represent the U.S. in
Lillehammer, Norway at the UCI Marathon World Championships, a race that
conflicted with the NORBA Marathon finale. If he had stayed, the series
was close enough that it would have been decided only in Snowshoe, a race
in which Eatough and teammate Jeremiah Bishop finished forty-five minutes
ahead of third place.
Shonny Vlandingham (Luna Chix)
Photo ©: Rick Barlow
Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix), Cross Country – Shonny Vanlandingham
is coming into her own as a cross-country racer. She posted solid results
in 2003 after a couple of injuries then, in 2004, she pulled off the series
with strong finishes at the end of the season. In 2005, Vanlandingham
stumbled out of the gate (DNF’ing at the season opener in Texas) but came
on strong, winning all but two races the rest of the year and proving
that she is a consistently dangerous competitor. The two race she lost
in 2005 were both second places; the first at Brian Head to U.S. women’s
cross-country phenom Heather Irmiger (Tokyo Joes) and the second to teammate
Alison Dunlap at Mount Snow. Vanlandingham is showing the kind of form
that makes her a threat at World Championships and puts a bull’s eye on
her back for September’s U.S. National Championships.
Katerina Hanusova (Luna Chix), Short Track – Smart racing and
team tactics put this Czech Republic rider on the top step of the podium
in three of the eight Short Track NORBA’s. Match that up with two second
places and podiums for the rest of the season and Hanusova always had
a comfortable points spread to her most likely Short Track Challenger;
2003 series winner Sue Haywood (Trek/VW).
Kathy Pruitt (Luna Chix), Downhill – There were only five women’s
Downhill competitions in the 2005 NORBA Series. Which meant every result
had a greater impact in the overall than with competitions that ran the
full eight races. Twenty-two year old Pruitt, who splits her year between
Lake Almanor, CA and the Queensland Gold Coast, sat behind Chilean Bernardit
Pizarro (Cannondale) in the series after two races. A win in the third
race, she says, boosted her confidence and taught her the focus she needed
to win three races in a row, including the finale in Mount Snow, to secure
Jennifer Whalen (Idaho Springs, Colo.), Super D – Only two women
racers took the Super D seriously enough to contest all seven events.
Between the two (Whalen and Cannondale racer Leana Gerrard), the battle
for the series remained close. Gerrard took it after the first race and
held on until Schweitzer (Idaho) where Whalen won her first NORBA Super
D and edged Gerard out in points. From there, it was a matter of math.
For every result that Gerrard posted, Whalen would post one result better.
Her lead grew at every event but the series wasn’t settled until the final
event in Mount Snow when Whalen managed fourth to Gerrard’s fifth.
Katrina Miller (Jamis Bicycles), Mountain Cross – Although she
came second in the first two races, it looked like Arizonan Melissa Buhl
(KHS Bicycles) had the women’s Mountain Cross competition won half way
through the season when she won the Brian Head race. But she faltered
in Snowshoe, making room for Katrina Miller and Tara Llanes (Giant) to
pull within striking distance of the series championship. The contest
came down to the final day where points scored in Dual Slalom counted
towards the Mountain Cross competition. Twenty-nine year old Miller and
Buhl faced each other in the heat to determine third and fourth. The winner
and second place of the day, Llanes and Kathy Pruitt, were mathematically
unable to win the series on points. Buhl held a seven-point margin. The
difference between third and fourth was eight series points. Buhl had
to win to take the series. At the end of the run, Miller had edged Buhl
to take a one-point advantage and the series.
Monique Sawicki (TeamMATA / Warrior’s Society), Marathon – Monique
Sawicki’s is a come-from-nowhere story. She received her pro racing license
in 2004 and only decided to try Marathon because it was a new series and
she liked the longer format. After wining the series on points, she felt
she had to prove her success was not a fluke so she her 2005 goal on a
series repeat. She dominated the points chase from beginning to end. Sawicki
carried a four hundred-point lead after racing five of the seven marathons
and the title was virtually assured. In order to claim the title by the
rules though, Sawicki, who also won the NORBA Solo 24-Hours National Championship
in Spokane earlier this season, needed to compete in six of the seven
total races. Since she missed the Brian Head, Utah NORBA (for financial
and time-related reasons), her last chance to get her sixth event was
the marathon finals in Snowshoe. Still lacking the full financial support
of any one sponsor, Sawicki traveled to Snowshoe at her family’s expense
and raced for the pride of the series championship.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary
Photo ©: Travis Drennen
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru – Gary Fisher). What can be said
about the rider who can win a championship every year of his life but
hasn’t yet upset the Geoff Kabush apple cart? If only he hadn’t crashed
in the first five minutes of the Snowshoe Cross Country race, the end
of the season would have taken a much more dramatic shape.
Heather Irmiger (Tokyo Joes) and Dara Marks-Marino (Ford/Specialized)
deserve special mentions for winning their first-ever NORBA races in 2005.
Irmiger won the Brian Head Cross Country race. Marks-Marino won the Short
Track in Snowmass, Colorado.
Haro teammates Seamus McGrath and Mick Hannah get a mention
for putting one over on the series winners and stepping to the top of
a NORBA podium for the first time in a while each. At Snowshoe, McGrath
won the Short Track ahead of series-dominator Geoff Kabush and Hannah
edged out Jared Graves for his first NORBA win in three years.
Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix)
Photo ©: Rick Barlow
Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix) deserves the final mention for retiring
with such style and ending her NORBA Series career with a win. Dunlap
has said she wanted a NORBA Nationals win during her final season to feel
like she was going out on top. Although she had podium in four 2005 NORBA’s
before Mount Snow, Dunlap had only this one last chance to win and pulled
it off in front of family, friends and the MTB scene she’s been an integral
part of for a decade.
For complete Mount Snow race reports, results and photos, click here.
1 - August 27: Super D
2 - August 27: Cross-country
3 - August 27: Dual Slalom
4 - August 28: Downhill
5 - August 28: Short Track cross-country
Global MTB Racing
Want to know what happened in the world of mountain biking during the
Two months of conquering the world: Gunn-Rita Dahle Diary
Can nobody stop her?
Photo ©: Øyvind Aas
We've won gold, gained valuable experience, been in Brazil for the first
time, competed on bikes at almost 3000 metres above sea-level, written
a new contract with Merida, and nourished both body and soul with simply
amazing experiences. Our travels with our bikes through the past two months
have given us a lot, demanded a lot from us, and been extremely exciting.
It's a long time since you've heard from us, so I don't know quite where
to begin. Last time I wrote a few lines, we were on our way to Brazil
to take part in the World Cup round in Santa Catarina. So much has happened
since then. I'm going to have to give you a short version this time, since
I could probably write a couple of books about everything I've done and
experienced these past weeks. During the autumn I promise to write a more
extensive recount of the season, in which I will include more details
which have made an impression on both body and mind, and which might be
interesting reading for you.
World Championship Marathon in Lillehammer
Fresh wares usually taste best, so I'll start with the World Championships
for MTB marathon at home in Norway last Saturday. It ended up being a
perfect day for both Kenneth and I. An exciting race against marathon
specialists on a demanding track, an impressively well organised championship
by the Birkebeiner organisation, amazing numbers of spectators along the
race course, sun and blue skies, a cheering mass of spectators at the
finish line in Lillehammer, and a World Championship gold medal on Norwegian
Read the entire Gunn-Rita
Dahle diary here.
NORBA final and onto Worlds: Geoff Kabush Diary
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis)
Photo ©: Clay Lundgren
After surviving "Cottage Nuts" not "Cottage Crazy" in West Virginia (as
my sister corrected me on JF's Frenglish of Cabin Fever) Toulouse and
I made it fairly smoothly up the East Coast on Thursday to legendary Mt
Snow for the NORBA finals.
The XC course was in superb condition in dry conditions which made me
quite happy; I wasn't into doing another death march in the mud the week
before Worlds. The XC series has been a good story with lead swaps between
Adam Craig, myself, JHK, and then back to me, then JHK, and then me again.
It has been a battle with Canadian against American, dualie versus hardtail,
but it has been good because we all have respect for each other and we
know there is no false hero among us. I was happy with the Series Finals
in Vermont because I have good memories of my first XC podium way back
in 1999. That was the year I went up 1-0 in my offroad series with Lance
"I have never doped, no way" Armstrong.
Read the entire diary
Fun times at base camp: Niki Gudex diary
Daniel, Niki and Uli Schoberer
Photo ©: Niki Gudex and friends
After three months at my home away from home in Colorado, it has come
time to move on to my second base for the season in Freiburg in the south
of Germany near the border of Switzerland.
My first week was spent in LA, but since then I have spent plenty of
time acclimatising to altitude, as most of the races this year have been
above 8000 feet. The highest point in Australia is only a bit over 6000
feet, so racing at altitude is a bit of a shock to the system for someone
coming from Sydney.
Staying with everyone from SRM has been fantastic; Uli has made it feel
like a home away from home, which makes such a difference. Uli is such
a great guy and not surprisingly he has many good friends always stopping
by to say hi or stay for dinner. Being part of a home sure beats four
months of building up bikes in hotel rooms. We even had a pet for a while
- well, we had a cute little deer that came and spent a few hours in the
Read the entire Niki
Gudex diary here.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)