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Toulouse pips Craig at Windham Mountain

Luna sweeps top three

By Andrew J. Bernstein

A thrilling two-up sprint, contested by 2008 Olympian Adam Craig (Giant) and Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis), ushered in what will likely be the first of many NMBS races at Windham Mountain.

After racing four laps of the newly constructed course at this first-time venue in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Toulouse took the win by a wheel over Craig. Both finished within a second of each other, stopping the clock at 1:35:10.7 and 1:35:11, respectively. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-VW) was third.

“It went better than I thought it would,” said Craig, who said he has been focusing his training on next week’s national championships at Mt. Snow, Vermont. Craig, originally from Maine, said that he wasn’t obligated to race at Windham, but was happy to support his East Coast brethren.

“There are a lot of people really stoked on racing here, hopefully this venue keeps on going,” he said.

Toulouse, who took his first win of the 2008 season, said he might have been aided by a low call-up. “There was a lot of congestion at the start, so I rode it like a time trial, and pushed my way through the field slowly. The heat played into my hands because I started slowly, and then had more later in the race,” he said. “I knew I felt good, and thought a podium was possible, but I didn’t think about winning.”

After Sunday’s short track race, he will head to Canada to rest and train ahead of next week’s Canadian national championships at Mont-Ste-Anne.

Third-placed Bishop, who spent much of this season in Europe chasing World Cup points to qualify for the Olympics, was also given a low call-up, and put in a strong chase to catch the leaders. After Craig’s first-lap acceleration, Bishop was isolated with Todd Wells (GT) and a few others on the second lap.

“I wanted to lead on the descent, and kept trying to pass him, but he wasn’t having any of it,” Bishop said of Wells. Wells’ aggressive riding might have been his undoing, when the GT rider went hot into a rock garden and shredded his rear tire. Bishop soon caught up to Craig, but started cramping on the third lap, and rode to hold onto his podium spot, while Craig and Toulouse raced ahead.

“It was a really good race, I felt like I had the physical energy, but it was just a little short for me,” Bishop said, noting that he would have benefited from another lap.

Earlier in the day, Team Luna dominated the women’s cross country. Canadian Olympian Catherine Pendrel took the hole shot to lead onto the single track climb up the mountain. Her teammate and U.S. Olympic Team member Georgia Gould was close behind, and took control of the three-lap race on the first descent.

Gould kept her lead for the rest of the three-lap race, finishing in 1:21:20. Pendrel took second, with teammate Katerina Nash rounding out the top three. Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) was fourth, and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fischer) fifth.

“We’re really lucky to have so many strong women on this team,” Gould said. “If you can’t win, at least it’s nice if your teammate does.”

Pendrel said Gould set a tough tempo after going out hard on the first climb. Despite efforts to keep up with her charging teammate, Pendrel had to overcome a minor mechanical when her derailleur got twisted, and settled for second.

“It didn’t slow me down too much, but I couldn’t pick up any places,” she said. Headed into the Canadian national championships next week, Pendrel said she felt good about her form and hoped to medal.

Fifth-placed Irmiger said it wasn’t her perfect day, but was satisfied with her performance. “I love to climb, so I went as hard as I could,” she said.

The pro men’s dual slalom saw Mike Haderer (Yeti) ride away with a hard-fought win over Cameron Cole (Maxxis). Gravity legend Eric Carter (Mongoose) boggled the semifinals, but raced to third in the consolation round, beating out Ryan Condrashoff (Fusion).

Johanna Petterson won an uncontested women’s event, and pledged to donate her winnings to the Tara Llana Foundation, to aid the downhiller who was left paralyzed following a horrific crash at Sea Otter earlier this year.

Racing continues Sunday with short track, downhill and super-D events.

Race notes
The cross country course, created by local volunteers over the past several months, got positive reviews. Even Carl Decker (Giant), who abandoned on the second lap after feeling less than his best, said he hopes to come back.

“They did an awesome job. It sounds like the whole town banded together to build this,” he said of the course, which featured 30 bridges, including three over-under passes.

Irmiger said the course was a lot of fun, and well constructed to handle the many transitions between screaming descents and traverses. “I’d be happy to come back,” she said.

Bishop called Windham the best NMBS course of the year. “They put a lot of work into the trails, and that says a lot about the resort’s interest in putting on a good event,” he said.

Results

NMBS: Windham Mountain

Cross country

Men

1. Mathieu Toulouse, Maxxis

2. Adam Craig, Giant

3. Jeremiah Bishop, Trek-VW

4. Sam Jurekovic, U23 National

5. Sam Schultz, Subaru-Gary Fisher

6. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Subaru-Gary Fisher

7. Derek Zandstra, Fox

8. Ryan Trebon, Kona

9. Andy Schultz, Kenda

10. Barry Wicks, Kona

Women

1. Georgia Gould, Luna

2. Catherine Pendrel, Luna

3. Katerina Nash, Luna

4. Pua Sawicki, Ellsworth

5. Heather Irmiger, Subaru-Gary Fisher

6. Mical Dyck, Trek

7. Amanda Sin, Fox

8. Emily Batty, Trek

9. Wendy Simms, Kona

10. Lea Davison, Trek-VW

Dual slalom

Men

1. Mike Haderer, Yeti

2. Cameron Cole, Maxxis

3. Eric Carter, Mongoose

4. Ryan Condrashoff, Fusion

Women

1. Johanna Petterson