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Sea Otter Classic - NE
Monterey, California USA, April 17-20, 2008
Race 9 - Saturday, April 19: Dual Slalom - Elite & semi-pro qualifying & finals
Jonnier and Minnaar best world class field
By Sue George in Monterey, California
Greg Minnaar and Sabrina Jonnier won the elite men's and women's dual slalom on Saturday afternoon at Sea Otter. Racers battled exceptionally windy and cold conditions with dust blowing everywhere. Although a few crazy fans briefly removed their shirts to indicate the extent of their dedication, specatators stood bundled alongside the course. The gravity racers faced a headwind for much of the course, which made the pedalling sections all the more challenging.
Tara Llanes, who was paralyzed in an accident last September at the Jeep King of the Mountain Race, guest commentated, giving fresh insight into the action and the minds of the racers thanks to her extensive past experience on the track.
Jonnier dominates talented women's field
Sabrina Jonnier dominated the women's dual slalom from start to finish on Saturday. She qualified first and marched her way consistently through to the finals, to finish first ahead of Melissa Buhl. Jonnier beat Britney White, Micayla Gatto, and Fionn Griffiths en route to victory and rode with power and grace and seemed to float over the course compared to her competition.
Buhl defeated Sondra Williamson, Mio Suemasa, and Rachel Atherton on her path to last round.
In the second run of the finals, Buhl crashed high up on the course, but Jonnier was so focused she didn't noticed as she pedalled on to take her fourth consecutive Sea Otter dual slalom win. Afterward, she said, "I didn't know Melissa had crashed."
Jonnier then revealed the secret to her success, smiling sincerely, "I just have fun here. I feel good in all the turns. When I win, it's because I have fun on my bike."
En route to her victory, Jonnier had a smooth time, but she admitted some minor troubles. "I had a mechanical problem in an earlier round, and I did make two mistakes on the first run in the final."
In the consolation round, Fionn Griffiths defeated Rachel Atherton for third and fourth places respectively.
Santa Cruz team-mates go one-two
On the men's side, it was all about the Santa Cruz Syndicate team as two of its riders ended up in the final together. Greg Minnaar took top honors ahead of Steve Peat.
Minnaar's success came even as he was testing his new bike. "I just got my bike built today. It was my first time riding it. It was an awesome race." The South African said it helped him mentally to be in the final with his team-mate. En route to the finals, Minaar defeated Ryan Condrashoff, Dan Atherton, Jared Rando and fellow South African Andrew Neethling.
"I thought, 'The pressure's off from the big boss.' I suspect that made it easy for me to push harder because I knew if I crashed, my team-mate would take the top spot."
Second place finisher Steve Peat was equally delighted with his race although he said he was tired from the consecutive rounds, during which he won over Eric Carter, Rich Houseman, Brian Lopes and Kirt Voreis, with little rest in between. "I felt pretty good for the last couple of runs," said Peat. "My legs started to wobble a bit and I got pretty tired. It's quite a lot of rounds to get to the final, but I was happy to make it to the final."
"It was Greg's first race for Syndicate so it was special for us both to be in the final," beamed Peat. The two have spent some time in recent months training together.
Both spoke favorably of the tried and tested course. "It was pretty technical - more so than in previous years," said Minnaar. "It's more skill than power up at the gate." The racers pedalled furiously toward the bottom of the course as they ran it out to the finish.
"The course was really good today," added Peat, who suffered no mechanicals excepting a stiff link that necessitated a hasty chain change between rounds. "It was a shame about the wind, but the track flowed good and it was dry."
Minnaar will spend some more time in Santa Cruz before heading to Europe for the World Cup season while Peat will return to England for a British National next week before the World Cups begin.
Andrew Neethling finished in third, ahead of Kirt Voreis in the consolation round after Voreis crashed on the second ride.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Sue George / Cyclingnews
1/16 Finals Elite men Heat 1 1 Brian Lopes 2 Matti Lehikoinen Heat 2 1 Christopher Herndon 2 Justin Leov Heat 3 1 Steve Peat 2 Eric Carter Heat 4 1 Rich Houseman 2 Dave Wardell Heat 5 1 Cole Bangert 2 Mike Haderer Heat 6 1 Kirt Voreis 2 Jurgen Beneke Heat 7 1 Amiel Cavelier 2 Chris Boice Heat 8 1 Sam Blenkinsop 2 Josh Bryceland Heat 9 1 Lars Stenberg 2 Chris Powell Heat 10 1 Andrew Neethling 2 Gee Atherton Heat 11 1 Christopher Kovarick 2 Geritt Beytagh Heat 12 1 Nathan Rennie 2 John Hauer Heat 13 1 Dan Atherton 2 Aaron Gwin Heat 14 1 Greg Minnaar 2 Ryan Condrashoff Heat 15 1 Kyle Strait 2 Cody Warren Heat 15 1 Jared Rando 2 George Stephenson Semi-pro men Heat 1 1 Bryan Culp 2 Amado Stachenfield Heat 2 1 Ryan Kresich 2 Sam Benedict Heat 3 1 Tyler Wilson 2 Heath Sherratt Heat 4 1 Nick Moreda 2 Nathan March Heat 5 1 Jake Kinney 2 Kaymen Benetti Heat 6 1 Christian Dalsgaard 2 Brian Mendiala Heat 7 1 Dan Harris 2 Ben Storrar Heat 8 1 Nate Lewis 2 Craig Harvey Heat 9 1 Juan Graziosi 2 Pete Maniaci Heat 10 1 Clinton Fowler 2 Martin Navarro Heat 11 1 Alain Lanusse 2 Justin Graves Heat 12 1 Joe Buckley 2 Taylor Cusinot Heat 13 1 Daniel Cortina 2 Erik Barton Heat 14 1 Eric Loney 2 Chris Quintero Heat 15 1 Carl Marcum 2 Phillip Vega Heat 16 1 Dylan Renn 2 Brandon Sloan 1/8 Finals Elite men Heat 1 1 Brian Lopes 2 Christopher Herndon Heat 2 1 Steve Peat 2 Rich Houseman Heat 3 1 Kirt Voreis 2 Cole Bangert Heat 4 1 Sam Blenkinsop 2 Amiel Cavelier Heat 5 1 Andrew Neethling 2 Lars Sternberg Heat 6 1 Christopher Kovarick 2 Nathan Rennie Heat 7 1 Greg Minnaar 2 Dan Atherton Heat 8 1 Jared Rando 2 Kyle Strait Elite women Heat 1 1 Sabrina Jonnier 2 Britney White Heat 2 1 Micayla Gatto 2 Joanna Petterson Heat 3 1 Kathy Pruitt 2 Caroline Jarolime Heat 4 1 Fionn Griffiths 2 Leana Gerrard Heat 5 1 Melissa Buhl 2 Sondra Williamson Heat 6 1 Mio Suemasa 2 Katie Holden Heat 7 1 Marla Streb 2 Anneka Beerten Heat 8 1 Rachel Atherton 2 Jessica Vogt Semi-pro men Heat 1 1 Ryan Kresich 2 Bryan Culp Heat 2 1 Nick Moreda 2 Tyler Wilson Heat 3 1 Jake Kinney 2 Christian Dalsgaard Heat 4 1 Nate Lewis 2 Dan Harris Heat 5 1 Clinton Fowler 2 Juan Graziosi Heat 6 1 Joe Buckley 2 Alain Lanusse Heat 7 1 Daniel Cortina 2 Eric Loney Heat 8 1 Brandon Sloan 2 Carl Marcum 1/4 Finals Elite men Heat 1 1 Steve Peat 2 Brian Lopes Heat 2 1 Kirt Voreis 2 Sam Blenkinsop Heat 3 1 Andrew Neethling 2 Christopher Kovarick Heat 4 1 Greg Minnaar 2 Jared Rando Elite women Heat 1 1 Sabrina Jonnier 2 Micayla Gatto Heat 2 1 Fionn Griffiths 2 Kathy Pruitt Heat 3 1 Melissa Buhl 2 Mio Suemesa Heat 4 1 Rachel Atherton 2 Marla Streb Semi-pro men Heat 1 1 Ryan Kresich 2 Nick Moreda Heat 2 1 Jake Kinney 2 Nate Lewis Heat 3 1 Joe Buckley 2 Clinton Fowler Heat 4 1 Daniel Cortina 2 Brandon Sloan Semi-Finals Elite men Heat 1 1 Steve Peat 2 Kirt Voreis Heat 2 1 Greg Minnaar 2 Andrew Neethling Elite women Heat 1 1 Sabrina Jonnier 2 Fionn Griffiths Heat 2 1 Melissa Buhl 2 Rachel Atherton Semi-pro men Heat 1 1 Jake Kinney 2 Ryan Kresich Heat 2 1 Joe Buckley 2 Daniel Cortina Finals Elite men Heat 1 1 Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 2 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) Heat 2 3 Andrew Neethling 4 Kirt Voreis Elite women Heat 1 1 Sabrina Jonnier 2 Melissa Buhl Heat 2 3 Fionn Griffiths 4 Rachael Atherton Semi-pro men Heat 1 1 Joe Buckley 2 Jake Kinney Heat 2 3 Daniel Cortina 4 Ryan Kresich