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NORBA National Series Final - E2
Durango Mountain Resort, CO, USA , August 28-29, 2004
Race 1 - August 28: Cross-country
Overall winners decided in Durango
Vanlandingham, Kabush take race wins and overall crowns
By USA Cycling
Geoff Kabush (CAN) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) claimed the NORBA overall series crowns today after posting wins in the challenging cross-country final at Durango Mountain Resort. On a course with switchbacks and an incredibly steep climb to the top, riders faced an epic battle for the series titles.
The men lined up first for two laps of the demanding 12.5 mile course that included 1800 feet of climbing per loop. By the time the riders had made it to the top of the big climb, the leaders were Adam Craig (Corinth, Maine), Geoff Kabush, Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore.), Brian Smith (Gunnison, Colo.), and 49-year-old legend - Ned Overend (Durango, Colo.).
Craig set the pace for the first lap, and then Kabush took over the lead position at the beginning of lap two. Smith and Trebon chased, while the rest of the field maintained a respectable distance from the leaders. Most of the men were only 4 ½ minutes or less behind the leaders at the end of lap one, which is impressive due to the course's difficult climbs. "This has got to be one of the most aerobically challenging courses," Kabush commented after posting his victory.
The winner became visible on the side of the mountain as he rode the final switchbacks that would bring him into the start/finish to claim the Series crown. Before he even crossed the finish line, he was handed a bottle of champagne to begin his celebration. Adam Craig followed Kabush in second place, while Trebon claimed third today and second in the overall standings. Cesar Grajales (COL) had a career day with his best ever NORBA cross-country finish in fourth place, while Brian Smith took the podium's last spot in fifth.
Ned Overend became the talk of the day, as he kept the pace of the younger riders for the entire race and finished eleventh. "I had to use a lot of energy to move up, but I felt pretty good" Overend said afterwards. Brian Smith also drew a lot of attention as he maintained a spot in the top five all day. Smith's best finish prior to this afternoon was 32nd place at Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho. "I just really wanted to have a good solid race," Smith explained to the announcers after his breakout performance.
The women's race unfolded a bit differently, in that the race leaders were determined immediately, as they formed a huge gap on the rest of the field in the first lap. It was Shonny Vanlandingham, Willow Koerber (Gunnison,Colo.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz.) that lead the field up the first climb out of the village.
Vanlandingham was able to break away on the first lap, forming about a 45 second gap on her two chasers - Dara Marks-Marino and Alison Dunlap. The hometown hero took her first NORBA cross-country win in Durango last year, and this year she was fighting to claim the #1 spot in the overall rankings. It was a career day for Marks-Marino who sat in the second spot as the women went into lap two. Shonny's teammate, Alison Dunlap, rolled through the start/finish in third. The rest of the women's field started coming through over three minutes later, making it very clear halfway through the race who the day's contenders were.
Vanlandingham was overjoyed as she took the Series crown, saying "I guess you always have it as your goal. As the season progressed, I saw that it was possible."
Dunlap, who passed Marks-Marino during lap two to take second place this afternoon and in the overall standings was happy for Shonny. "I'm thrilled for my teammate," she said after the race. "This has been a great year. There were a lot of ups and downs, and it's good to end on an up note."
Marks-Marino had a breakout day and showed her strength as a climber, finishing in third place. "I wasn't sure I was going to make it up that second climb," she told the announcers after finishing, "but somehow I made it." Gretchen Reeves and Katerina Hanusova rounded out the final podium spots.
The NORBA cross-country rankings are now final, with today's winners also taking the overall awards.
Athletes can't celebrate the end of the NORBA season just yet, as the short track competition is on the agenda for tomorrow. Geoff Kabush could likely walk away with both the cross-country and short track overall titles, as he leads the short track standings going into tomorrow's race. Chris Sheppard and Travis Brown are not far behind however. Alison Dunlap is the women's short track points leader, but Vanlandingham could make it two for two this weekend, as she sits in second place going into tomorrow's event.
Men 1 Geoff Kabush 2 Adam Craig 3 Ryan Trebon 4 Cesar Grajales 5 Brian Smith Women 1 Shonny Vanlandingham 2 Alison Dunlap 3 Dara Marks-Marino 4 Gretchen Reeves 5 Katerina Hanusova
Final overall standings
Men 1 Geoff Kabush (Can) 2 Ryan Trebon (USA) 3 Travis Brown (USA) 4 Chris Sheppard (CAN) 5 Adam Craig (USA) Women 1 Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) 2 Alison Dunlap (USA) 3 Willow Koerber (USA) 4 Dara Marks-Marino (USA) 5 Kelli Emmett (USA)