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By Kip Mikler , VeloNews Editor
Eric Carter and Leigh Donovan go way back. The two Southern California slalom racing vets each won their first NORBA dual slalom race eight years ago at Snow Summit, California. So it was fitting that, at Donovan’s last NORBA dual slalom race, the two were back on the top of a podium together. This time, they were there as dual slalom national champions — Carter for the third time, Donovan for the fifth.
The end result was the same, but the routes Carter and Donovan took at the final race of the 2001 NORBA dual slalom series at Mount Snow, Vermont were not. Donovan, riding for Schwinn, was smooth all the way to the finals, where she lost to Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale), who competed in and won her first NORBA dual slalom.
“It was exactly the way I wanted it to be,” Donovan said of her final race. “I wanted to be in the finals with Anne because I have so much respect for her.”
Chausson put on a clinic, winning every heat — often by large margins — on her way to the win.
Carter’s route to the title was more dramatic. The Mongoose-Hyundai rider who goes by the nickname E.C. might deserve a new one: Eric “Clutch” Carter would work after he had to come back from a .174 deficit against French showboat Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale) in the semi-finals. In dual slalom racing, that slice of time is an eternity.
“I thought I was the fastest guy all along, and I just wanted to prove it,” Carter said.
That he did, and after skating past Gracia, Carter looked over at the guy next to him in the finals and saw Brian Lopes (GT-Fox). Talk about a dream final. The two slalom legends came into the final race of the season tied in points. It was all on the line.
Out of the gates in the first heat, Carter pushed Lopes to the limit, and Lopes crashed. Lopes came out blazing in the second heat, and came close to making up the 1.5-second deficit, but Carter hung on to take the title.
NORBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS, Mount Snow, VT. August 17-19.;
Men: 1. Eric Carter, Mongoose-Hyundai; 2. Brian Lopes, GT-Fox; 3. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale; 4. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen.;
Women: 1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale; 2. Leigh Donovan, Schwinn; 3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense; 4. Elke Brutsaert, Schwinn.;
Note: Final standings will be posted when they are available.