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NORBA National Championships - CN

Mammoth Mountain, California, USA , September 23-26, 2004

One-day championships at last

The mountain bike season will come to a close in the U.S. next week with the inaugural U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. from September 23-26. The popular destination will debut the new one-day format for naming national champions. American riders will now contest a national championship against each other, without competition from foreign riders, putting the U.S. in line with how other countries crown their national champions.

The format has been changed back to "winner-take-all", allowing qualified riders to seriously compete for the title, which was more difficult under the old system where champions were crowned by series standings. "We're very excited about the debut of the new format," USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia remarked. "Our members have wanted a one-day national championship for a while, and we're thrilled to see it come to fruition this year."

By the end of the day on Sunday, 98 stars and stripes jerseys will have been awarded to new national champions in the pro/elite, semi-pro, expert, and junior expert categories. 85 racers will ride away with competition jerseys in the sport, beginner, and junior categories.

Action begins on Thursday, September 23 with the marathon and crowning of the weekend's first national champions. The open event begins early in the morning and will see riders climb over 6,000 feet for three laps of a 22.5 mile circuit. Scheduled for Friday are the cross-country races that range from five miles with 995 feet of climbing for the youngest juniors to 27 miles with 5,469 feet of climbing for the pro men. Saturday's competition will include more cross-country as well as mountain cross, downhill, Super D, and observed trials. Racing wraps up on Sunday with the remaining downhill contests, all short-track races, and the Shimano youth race.

Some of the top pro's will be present to highlight the weekend, including 2004 Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) who is always a threat in the cross-country and short track races. JHK will be at battle with riders like Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.), first American in the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series short track standings, and second American in cross-country. Other favourites include Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore.) and 2004 Olympian Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) Women's racing will likely see strong performances by the Luna Chix duo of Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) Dunlap took the top spot in this year's NORBA short track standings, while Vanlandingham was the dominant woman in the cross-country series. Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) will also be a rider to keep an eye on, as she has had a breakout season with two NORBA cross-country victories and a World Cup podium.

The focal point of gravity racing will be brand new 2004 World 4-Cross Champion Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.). Carter claimed the overall series title in mountain cross this year, and was also second American in the downhill standings. Among his competition is Mike King (San Diego, Calif.), Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Calif.) and Rich Houseman (Pasadena, Calif.), top American in the NORBA downhill standings. On the women's side, 2004 World Championships silver medalist Jill Kintner (Murrieta, Calif.) will likely continue her winning ways in the mountain cross. Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) is the dominant American woman in downhill, while other contenders include April Lawyer (Murrieta, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.), and Marla Streb (Los Osos, Calif.).

The Races

  • Race 1 - Thursday, September 23: Marathon
  • Race 2 - Friday, September 24: Cross Country
  • Race 3 - Saturday, September 25: Mountain cross, Kamikaze Downhill
  • Race 4 - Saturday, September 25: Super D
  • Race 5 - Saturday, September 25: Trials
  • Race 6 - Sunday, September 26: Short Track XC
  • Race 7 - Sunday, September 26: Downhill