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NORBA USA National Championships - CN
Mammoth Mountain, CA, USA, September 15-18, 2005
Race 7 - Sunday, September 18: Downhill
Young riders take senior downhill titles
By Steve Medcroft
20-year-old Cody Warren (Haro) and 23-year-old Melissa Buhl (KHS) took the US Downhill National Championship titles on Sunday in Mammoth Mountain, California.
Warren, an up-and-comer in pro downhill, was Junior National Champion in 2003 and has been seen in many of the 2005 NORBA races (where he was often the best-placed American). Coming into nationals, he was seen by many as a favourite. But when the top ten results started to form and there were only six seconds between the results, spectators knew Warren was going need a perfect run to take it.
Justin Havukainen (IronHorse/MadKatz) set the early bar of 4:14:29. One by one riders fell behind Havunaikin's time by mere fractions of a second until sixth-from-last rider down the mountain Chris Van Dine (Go-Ride.com) managed to slip into the lead with a 1/100th margin.
Warren, in just his second year as an elite-level pro, said he felt comfortable on the dry, dusty and wide-open course. "It was a good run. I did a lot of pedaling and I could barely stand on it at the bottom, but it came out okay." After thirty-seven riders had failed to break the 4:14 mark, Warren streamed by the finish line with a final time of 4:05:58 to take his first elite Downhill National Championship jersey.
In the women's race, Buhl set the early time of 4:46:39 and sat in the hot seat as strong riders like Kathy Pruitt (Luna Chix) and April Lawyer (Maxxis/Intense/Oakley) all tried to top her without success.
"I love Mammoth," Buhl said at the finish. "I always have; the trails are really similar to home." Home is Chandler, Arizona. Buhl says she didn't feel particularly strong on her finals run. "Because I didn't think my practice runs had gone that well, I focused on having no mistakes and it paid off."
The KHS pro has come second in competitions from NORBA Downhills, Mountain Cross, Dual Slalom and Jeep King of the Mountain competitions in 2005. "I was close, close, close all year. This feels really good."
Women 1 Melissa Buhl (KHS) 2 Kathy Pruitt (Luna Chix) 3 April Lawyer (Maxxis/Intense/Oakley) 4 Amelia Colasurdo (Cannondale MTB Team) 5 Wendy Reynolds (Cannondale/Sportless) Men 1 Cody Warren (Haro Bicycles) 2 Chris Van Dine (Go-Ride.com) 3 Justin Havunaiken (Ironhorse/Madcatz) 4 Duncan Riffle (Yeti Racing) 5 Evan Turpen (Specialized/Fox/Troy Lee Designs)