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Olympians Head To Deer Valley, Utah, This Weekend For The National Mountain Bike Series.

With the Olympic team selections mostly settled (although not official) following last week’s world championships in Italy, the North American mountain bike jet set is back in Utah this weekend for some high-altitude racing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City.

The Deer Valley National presented by Subaru/Gary Fisher is the fourth round of the National Mountain Bike Series, and includes downhill, cross-country, dual slalom, short track and Super D events.

Gould returns

In the women’s cross-country, Georgia Gould (Luna) returns to domestic racing after having secured her Olympic team selection with a 9th place at worlds. Gould suffered heat stroke at the previous NMBS round in Santa Ynez, California, dropping out while in the lead.

After her long effort to make the Beijing team, Gould plans to continue racing regularly on the domestic circuit and the two upcoming World Cup races in Canada leading into the Olympics.

“I’m not planning any big training block away from racing or anything — I don’t have time!” she told VeloNews. “I try to think of it like every race is good training for the next race, and I always give it all I have,” she said.

“I’m feeling pretty good, but I’m sure it’s going to be a hard race,” the defending Deer Valley champ said.

Gould, by the way, said she has apparently had no permanent effects from the heat stroke. “I raced in Italy where it was really hot, and I didn’t have to go to the hospital, so I think there are no physical effects.”

Craig and JHK

On the men’s side, Giant’s Adam Craig likely locked up the coach’s selection for the Olympic team in Italy — although it’s not official — and he heads into Deer Valley in top form. Among Craig’s competitors in Utah, though, will be Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher), who thrives at altitude and has won twice at Deer Valley, including last year’s race.

The 2006 NMBS champ was 49th at worlds and is unlikely to get the coach’s selection for what would have been his second Olympics. The Colorado native is not sure how a month in Europe and a busy travel schedule has affected his form.

“I really don’t know what to expect this weekend. I don’t know if I have my altitude legs,” he said.

After a somewhat disappointing spring, he is looking forward to returning to domestic racing for a bit.

“It wasn’t the way I had planned,” he said of his pursuit of the Olympic team selection. “I did everything I could. I had some mechanicals, I had some bad luck. I had some good performances, too, but it just didn’t pan out. I’m not too devastated,” he said.

Courses drying out

Two weeks of hot dry weather has helped dry out the Deer Valley courses, which are largely unchanged from previous editions of the race, promoter Jeff Frost said. On the gravity events side, Deer Valley offers the first “alpine-style” course of the 2008 NMBS, he said.

Melissa Buhl, straight off her Four Cross world championships and national title, will be among the favorites at Deer Valley.

Deer Valley National NMBS schedule:

Pro Women’s Kenda Cross-country, 11 am
Pro Men’s Kenda Cross-country, 2 pm
Pro Dual Slalom finals, 7 pm
Pro Women’s Downhill finals, 12:15 pm
Pro Men’s Downhill finals, 1 pm
Pro Women’s Kenda short track, 1:15 pm
Pro Men’s Kenda short track, 2 pm
Super D finals, 3:45 pm

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