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Big Bear DH: It’s Carter and Jonnier again

For the second time in two days, American Eric Carter and Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier were the top gravity racers at NORBA National No. 3, after each scored wins in Sunday’s downhill mania race at Snow Summit Resort. Racing a format that hadn’t been used with any regularity since the mid-1990s, Carter was the fastest man down the hill in the four-up event that was part downhill, part mountain cross. Riders started the day running a solo qualifying run for bracket seeding, then went four-up with the top two riders advancing into each successive round. “It was pretty much a hole-shot race,”

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

Take off: The opening straight at Big Bear.

Take off: The opening straight at Big Bear.

Photo: Tom Moran

For the second time in two days, American Eric Carter and Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier were the top gravity racers at NORBA National No. 3, after each scored wins in Sunday’s downhill mania race at Snow Summit Resort.

Racing a format that hadn’t been used with any regularity since the mid-1990s, Carter was the fastest man down the hill in the four-up event that was part downhill, part mountain cross. Riders started the day running a solo qualifying run for bracket seeding, then went four-up with the top two riders advancing into each successive round.

Carter heads to his fourth straight win at Big Bear.

Carter heads to his fourth straight win at Big Bear.

Photo: Tom Moran

“It was pretty much a hole-shot race,” explained Carter of the bracket heats, “so in all my runs I was just focusing on the start.”

Indeed, with long downhill straightway out of the start gate preceding a hard left hand turn, the rider who got there first had a substantial advantage. Carter (Mongoose-Hyundai) was that rider in the final, taking a top-to-bottom win, with fellow American David Klaassenvanorschot earning a surprising second ahead of Steve Peat (Royal Orange). Kiwi John Kirkcaldie (Maxxis) was fourth.

This marked the second year in a row that Carter has swept the weekend at Big Bear. He won a traditional downhill and mountain cross at the 2003 NORBA season opener, and took Saturday’s dual slalom to go with his DH mania win on Sunday.

“I’ve been racing here 11 years,” said the 34-year-old. “I’ve got a pretty good understanding of this place.”

In the women’s race, Jonnier (Intense) dominated for the second day in a row, easily outpacing Marla Streb (Luna), Bernardita Pizarro (Chilean National) and Kathy Pruitt (Luna) in the final.

“I was behind almost every run and was able to come back,” said Streb, who was the top qualifier. “But Sabrina got right to the front and kept good speed the whole way.”

Jonnier gave much of the credit for her big weekend to a winter spent in Australia with her boyfriend, world junior downhill champion Sam Hill.

“The dirt there is even dustier than this,” said Jonnier of her time riding near Perth in western Australia. “It helped me a lot.”

The NORBA series now takes a break until mid June, before reconvening in Snowshoe, West Virginia for round No. 4.

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Results

NORBA NATIONAL SERIES NO. 3; BIG BEAR LAKE, CALIFORNIA; MAY 21-23; DOWNHILL MANIA; MEN: 1. Eric Carter, Mongoose-Hyundai; 2. David Klaassenvanorschot, Intense; 3. Steve Peat (GB), Royal Orange; 4. John Kirkcaldie (NZ), Maxxis; 5. Jared Graves (Aus), Yeti; 6. Mick Hannah (Aus), Haro-adidas; 7. Joel Panozzo (Aus), Progressive; 8. Bryn Atkinson (Aus), Iron Horse-MadCatz


WOMEN: 1. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense; 2. Marla Streb, Luna; 3. Bernardita Pizarro (Chi), Chilean National; 4. Kathy Pruitt, Luna; 5. Melissa Buhl, KHS; 6. Lisa Sher, Chumba Wumba; 7. Anka Martin; 8. Tara Llanes, Giant-Pearl Izumi