Chevy Trucks Nationals Downhill Kicks-Off at Snow Summit|
Thursday, June 07, 2001
BIG BEAR LAKE (Calif.), 3 June, 2001 - Marla Streb won the third Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championships Mountain Bike Series of her career, taking the first of the five-round 2001 nationwide series on the spectacular course at Snow Summit Mountain Resort. A powerful contingent of Australian men, led by the remarkable newcomer Mick Hannah, 17, riding for the equally remarkable Global Racing Team, swept the first three places in the men's race.
The 1.8-mile Snow Summit downhill course plummeted a dizzying 1,200 feet down the mountainside. With features including several big jumps - topped by a 40-foot double - the course was worthy of one of the world's largest and most famous downhill mountain biking events.
Marla Streb, San Geronimo, Calif. (Foes-Azonic) - the 2000 world championship bronze medallist - spent much of winter practicing on her moto-cross bike, which she said helped her prepare for the big jumps on this fast, dusty course.
A head-on motorcycle collision with another motorcyclist on a local dirt trail only a week ago may have discouraged some riders, but this hardly seemed to phase Streb - who was unharmed in the accident - although it was not until the morning of the downhill final that she finally plucked up the courage to practice leaping across the 40-foot gap of the big double jump. "As soon as I managed to accomplish the double (jump), I felt really good about the course. I hadn't wanted to try it before this morning, but this morning I felt ready."
With a clean and trouble-free run, she comfortably took the win.
Streb's main rivals pre-race were 2000 national champion Missy Giove, Durango, Colo. (Global Racing), and 1998 national downhill champion Leigh Donovan, Capistrano Beach, Calif (Schwinn).
Giove, who was hampered slightly from a painful crash in the Dual Slalom event of Saturday almost had an over-the-bars crash in the notorious 'Rock Garden' section on the upper slopes of the course, and may have lost time there to Streb. Streb was 3.9 seconds faster than Giove, who finished second.
Third place was filled by Tara Llanes, Newport Beach (RPM-Yeti), who turned in a time 5.6 seconds slower than Streb. Donovan failed to find her best form and finished eighth.
After appearing as an unknown at the 2000 Downhill Junior World Championships wearing baggy shorts and no body-armour protection - and then winning the silver medal - 17 year-old Mick Hannah has caused quite a stir in downhill mountain bike racing.
At the Sea Otter Classic in March, he almost beat the great Brian Lopes, Laguna Beach (GT-Fox).
This weekend, at the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championships Mountain Bike Series, Hannah won both the Dual Slalom and the Downhill. With the increasing number of specialist riders these days, this is a rare achievement. "This is the best feeling I've ever had. I can't find words to explain it." stated Hannah.
Hannah's team, the impressive new Global Racing Team, took three of the five podium places today.
Hannah was almost beaten by his compatriot Nathan Rennie (RPM-Yeti), whose time of 3:15.24 was only 0.05 of a second slower than Hannah. Back in Australia Hannah grew up in Rennie's shadow, but the younger rider now appears to be coming into his own on the international scene.
Third was another Australian, Chris Kovarik (Intense Cycles), with a time of 3:17.72.
With two more Global Racing riders, Greg Minaar, Republic of South Africa, and Markholf Berchtold, Brazil, placing fourth and fifth respectively, the top USA finisher was John Waddell, Fairfield, Calif. (SunRace-Santa Cruz) in sixth place.
TOP RESULTS - WOMEN
1. MARLA STREB, San Geronimo, Calif. (Foes/Azonic) 1.8 miles in 3 minutes, 42.3 seconds;
2. Missy Giove, Durango, Colo. (Global Racing), 3:46.3;
3. Tara Llanes, Newport Beach, Calif. (RPM Yeti), 3:48;
4. Mariel Saner, Switzerland (Global Racing Team), 3:50.5;
5. April Lawyer, Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Maxxis Tires), 3:51.8;
TOP RESULTS - MEN
1. MICK HANNAH, Australia (Global Racing) 1.8 miles in 3 minutes, 15.19 seconds;
2. Nathan Rennie, Australia (RPM Yeti), 3:15.24;
3. Chris Kovarik, Australia (Intense Cycles), 3:17.72;
4. Greg Minaar, Republic of South Africa (Global Racing), 3:18.83;
5. Markholf Berchtold, Brazil (Global Racing), 3:19.14;