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Snowshoe, West Virginia, USA, June 10-13, 2004


Olympic selection race hots up at NORBA round four

The fourth round of the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series kicks off Thursday in Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia with the first of the four main disciplines, the marathon. Saturday sees mountain cross and cross country racing and the weekend concludes on Sunday with the short track and downhill contests.

Leading the cross country standings are Travis Brown and Jimena Florit in the men's and women's categories respectively while Chris Sheppard and Katerina Hanusova lead the short track events.

With many of the USA's top riders pursuing their goal of making the Olympic team, the NORBA National at Snowshoe plays a key role in selection. The U.S. team is partly decided based on accumulated UCI points and with Snowshoe holding an E2 classification in both the cross country and short track events this year, the event will factor into the tight race that exists among the upper echelon of American mountain bikers in the chase for UCI points.

Highlighting the cross country start list for the weekend is hometown favorite and one of the current leaders amongst Americans in the UCI standings ranked sixth in the world, Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.). Haywood is also the defending U.S. national champion in the short track. Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also returns to Snowshoe, the place where her chances to make the Olympic team took a turn for the worse last year. In 2003, Dunlap crashed during a descent in the cross country race and separated her shoulder. The injury required surgery and ended her 2003 mountain bike season.

For the men, the current leaders to grab one of the two Olympic start positions are Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.), and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.).

Thursday's marathon race, an ultra-distance affair, will be used for selection for the Marathon World Championships next month in Austria. The winner of the men's and women's race each receive an automatic nomination to the team that will represent the United States.