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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
After nine seasons plus one race, the run of the dual slalom came to an end on the sun-soaked slopes of Snow Summit Resort in Big Bear Lake, California. And unlike the early years when Americans dominated the side-by-side gated event, Saturday’s NORBA NCS No. 1 wins went to Aussie Wade Bootes and Frenchwoman Anne-Caroline Chausson.
In the men’s bracket Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen) took down Mike King, Chris Kovarik (Intense), and Kirt Voreis (Haro-Lee Dungarees), earning the third dual slalom win of his career. In the final against Voreis, Bootes dropped the opening heat, but managed to make up the time and then some in the final race.
“I knew I was faster on the other side,” said Bootes when asked about his come-from behind effort. “It had more pedaling and that’s how I win races.”
Voreis’s second-place effort earned him the 2002 NORBA national championship. Following the lead of the UCI’s World Cup circuit, NORBA will now run the four-rider mountain cross format at the remaining four races of the series.
“I love slalom racing,” said reigning NORBA champ Eric Carter, who won the first-ever men’s dual slalom back in 1993, but was knocked out in the round of 16 this time around. “It’s sad to see it go, but at the same time I think it’s time for a change.”
Slalom’s other icon, all-time race wins leader Brian Lopes (GT-Fox), lost to Voreis in the semis when he crashed in the first heat, then failed to make up the 1.5-second deficit in the second heat.
“I just pushed it too hard in one of the top turns,” said Lopes, who went on to take down Chris Kovarik (Intense) in the consolation round.
In the women’s race, Chausson marched her way through the bracket, before taking out fellow Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier (Intense) in the final. Tara Llanes (Yeti-Pearl Izumi) took out Melissa Buhl in the consolation round to win the one-race national title.
— Some notable numbers from the history of the dual slalom
Total rounds: 53
Most wins men: Brain Lopes, 19; Eric Carter, 12; Mike King, 7
Most wins women:Leigh Donovan, 18; Cheri Elliott, 10; Katrina Miller, 8
Overall title winners: 1993: King, Kim Sonier; 1994: Jimmy Kight, Elliott; 1995: Lopes, Donovan; 1996: Carter, Donovan; 1997: Lopes, Donovan; 1998: Carter, Miller; 1999: Lopes, Miller; 2000: Lopes, Miller; 2001: Carter, Donovan
First held:1993 – Snow Summit
Last held:2002 – Snow Summit
— The worst crash of Saturday’s slalom action had nothing to do with racing. During the SoBe Slam promotional event where chosen contestants run down the course guzzling SoBe along the way, a participant launched himself off one of the course’s jumps, than crashed to the ground, breaking his femur.
NORBA NCS NO. 1; Snow Summit Resort, CA; May 10-12; Dual Slalom; Women; 1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale; 2. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense; 3. Tara Llanes, Yeti-Pearl Izumi; 4. Melissa Buhl; 5. Katrin Miller (Aus), Jamis; 6. Tai-Lee Muxlo (Aus), Dirtworks; 7. Jill Kintner; 8. Missy Giove, Global Racing
Men; 1. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen; 2. Kirt Voreis, Haro-Lee Dungarees; 3. Brian Lopes, GT-Fox; 4. Chris Kovarik (Aus), Intense; 5. Nathan Rennie (Aus), Yeti-Pearl Izumi; 6. Rich Houseman; 7. Mike King, Haro-Lee Dungarees; 8. Mick Hannah (Aus), Haro-Lee Dungarees