May 18/03 9:45 am - NORBA #1
Posted by Editoress on 05/18/03
NORBA #1 - Big Bear Snow Summit Resort
Courtesy USA Cycling
Short Track Report
Susan Haywood, (Davis, WV, Trek Volkswagen), and Jose Adrian Bonilla (Costa Rica) each took home gold medals today in the Short Track Cross Country event at the NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series in Big Bear Lake, CA.
Haywood, who placed fifth in yesterday's Cross Country event, benefited from a brilliant tactical move with two laps to go to seal the victory in the women's race. Early on, it was Katerina Hanusova (Truckee, CA, RLX Ralph Lauren) who held a steady gap on a group of eight riders, including Haywood, and yesterday's winner, Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, CO, LunaChix). Kim Anderson (Colorado Springs, CO, T-Mobile) led the chase back to Hanusova for much of the way, opening the door for the decisive move. With two laps to go, it would come down to a show of tactics as Haywood closed the gap to Hanusova with Dunlap right on her wheel. Coming into the first turn just past the start-finish, Haywood took a tight line beneath Hanusova on the inside of the corner. Dunlap was left with only one option, to take the outside route around a tiring Hanusova, but by the time she had made it around it was too late. Haywood had powered away and solo'd the final lap for a well earned win.
Afterwards, a thrilled Haywood talked to USA Cycling. "This just feels awesome. I've been waiting to win a short track race for a while. It's a really big deal for me. It's so cool, it's just the best feeling. In 2001 I was the Short Track National Champion without winning a round of the series. So for me it means a lot to finally get a win. Now I feel I have a chance of winning the series title as well as the national championship."
A humble Haywood couldn't take all the credit however, crediting the machine that carried her to victory. "You know the spots on the course where you are faster than the others. I was riding the Trek Fuel, which I think made me faster at a key spot. The course went from smooth to rough in a short transition, and with rear suspension my back wheel was gripping great on the dirt."
Dunlap, perhaps tired from yesterday's hard fought victory, seemed happy with the second spot on the podium, "The race went according to plan. Katerina did just what we'd planned she'd do, and it was all perfectly positioned, but I just didn't have the legs. "I'm not disappointed, I just didn't have enough juice today."
The men's race was fast immediately from the gun, as Roland Green (Victoria, BC, Trek Volkswagen) attacked on the first lap. Still nursing a serious shoulder injury, Green pushed the pace and remained off the front for the first few laps, until Todd Wells (Durango, CO, Mongoose Hyundai) closed the gap on Green for good. Throughout the next few laps, the pace remained extremely high as Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, CO, RLX Ralph Lauren), and Jeff Hall (Apple Valley, MN, Salsa Cycles) all took turns on the front with hopes of a victory. With five laps to go, a group of six distanced themselves from the rest of the riders and the winning move was formed. Horgan-Kobleski, Wells, Hall, Bonilla, Chris Sheppard (Kamloops, BC, Haro Lee Dungarees), and Carl Swenson (Park City, UT, RLX Ralph Lauren) were all there. Mirroring the women's race, two laps to go seemed like the right time to make a move as Bonilla attacked hard through the start-finish with Horgan- Kobelski right on his wheel. On the tight turn at the top of the course, Horgan-Kobelski went down, and although he recovered immediately, the damage had been done and Bonilla was on his way to winning his first NORBA NCMBS event after placing second here in Big Bear last year.
An elated Bonilla explained his winning move, "My coach said to make sure I was in the top two in the last couple of laps, so I made sure I was. When I attacked with two to go, all the other guys sort of looked at each other without immediately responding, "I can't believe it, I am so happy"
Horgan-Kobelski, accepted his misfortune on the last lap, " I crashed when attempting to pass at the top of the course, I was passing on the inside on the loose dirt, my front tire washed out and I went down. It was a super-aggressive move, so I'm not really complaining. This is the best I've ever felt in a short track race before. That's racing"
1 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek Volkswagen
1 Jose Adrian Bonilla (CRc) Costa Rica
Carter, Moseley Post Victories in Dedication
Downhill Event Dedicated to Memory of Haruko Fujinaka
Courtesy USA Cycling
Today's Downhill competition was dedicated to fallen Professional Japanese competitor, Haruko Fujinaka, who died as a result of her injuries sustained in a crash while practicing on the downhill course on Saturday. The 33-year-old from Kyoto, Japan was transported to a local hospital yesterday after her crash, where she was pronounced dead at 11:51a.m. PST. This was the first such reported fatality in the 25 year history of NORBA racing at Snow Summit Mountain Resort. Prior to the start of today's competition, a moment of silence was observed in Fujinaka's memory.
USA Cycling would like to express our sincerest condolences to the Fujinaka family.
The action itself in today's downhill race exhibited all the passion and determination characteristic of the sport as the field was full of top- notch talent all seeking victory in the season opener. The tactics today were simple: be the fastest one down the mountain. In the riders' way, however, was a challenging course that included more features that made for a smoother and faster course than past years.
On the men's side, Eric Carter (Temecula, CA, Mongoose, Hyundai) was looking to double up on his successful day yesterday which saw him win the Mountain Cross event, but standing in his way were Mick Hannah (San Diego, CA, Haro Lee Dungarees) who snatched the number one seed in qualifying, and perennial favorite, Steve Peat (Great Britian, Roayl Orange). The top seeded riders had an added element of difficulty as the course conditions deteriorated throughout the day due the amount of wear and tear on the course, but that didn't seem to bother Carter as he blitzed down the mountain in a time of 3 minutes, 22.77 seconds, to best Peat by a slim .14 second margin. Chris Kovarik (Australia, Intense Cycles) was good enough for third, just another .2 second off the pace.
When asked about his winning run, Carter responded that it was "Spot on." Adding that: " I made a good adjustment in my technique in response to the way the course was blown out. I guess a lot of guys are talking about that. I just eyed it up. I looked far ahead for the blown out corners."
Peat suffered an earlier injury that may have affected him. " I hurt my wrist this morning", he explained, "so I couldn't really punch it like I wanted to. I came off in the last practice run, and at first I didn't think I'd be able to race the final. I put a 6-6-1 (wrist brace) on it, which gave it the needed support, but I couldn't bend my wrist much, which made it a bit awkward every time I got out of the saddle."
The women's event saw the return of a familiar face as Missy Giove (Pasadena, CA, Foes) was on hand and posed a threat to the top qualifiers, Marla Streb (Las Sosas, CA, LunaChix), Tracy Moseley (Great Britain, Kona Clark), and Tai-Lee Muxlow (Australia, Tioga Orange) who made it through qualifying in the top three spots respectively.
Moseley proved the strongest as she posted a winning time of 3:46:14 edging out Muxlow by a mere .6 second. Rounding out the top three was Fionn Griffiths (Great Britain, Foes). Giove made the podium in the fourth spot. Perhaps repetition was the key as Moseley noted, "I did about ten runs over the weekend to prepare, this is definitely the way to start the year."
During the women's podium presentation, as the weekend came to a close, another moment of silence was observed to once again pay honor and respect to Fujinaka.
1. Tracey Moseley (GBr) Kona Clark
2. Tai-Lee Muxlow (Aus) Tioga Orange
3. Fionn Griffiths (GBr) Foes
4. Missy Giove (USA) Foes
1. Eric Carter (USA) Mongoose, Hyundai
2. Steve Peat (GBr) Royal Orange
3. Chris Kovarik (Aus) Intense Cycles