By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Eric Carter and Tai-Lee Muxlo took down all comers on their way to wins in the dual slalom at NORBA NCS No. 4 at Mammoth Mountain in California. It was the 11th slalom victory of Carter’s career. For Muxlo it was her first.
Carter (Mongoose-Hyundai) had about as difficult trip to victory as one could have. He barley got by Michael Ronning (Intense) in the first round, then had to take out Fabien Barel (GT), Mick Hannah (Global Racing) and Wade Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen), before facing Brian Lopes (GT-Fox) in the finals.
In the finals, though, Carter got a break when Lopes’s front tire washed out in one of the mid-course berms, giving Carter the maximum 1.5-second advantage going into the second heat. There, Lopes was quickest to the finish, but not by enough, as Carter got his second straight NORBA dual slalom win and took over first place in the overall standings.
“That last run I was just totally relaxed and smooth,” Carter said. “I just went as fast as I needed to go.”
Bootes took down Greg Minnaar (Global Racing) in the consolation round to claim third place.
Muxlo (Dirtworks) was part of a surprise final that also included Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier (Intense). In the first heat Muxlo had some problems on the step-up triple jump, allowing Jonnier to take a .404-second advantage into the second heat. But on the second time down the stout 28-year-old Aussie put it all together, making up enough time to claim victory.
Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) took out Tara Llanes (Yeti-Pearl Izumi) in the consolation round. It was the first time since the World Cup dual race in Maribor, Slovenia that Donovan had finished anywhere but first. Entering Mammoth, Donovan had won two straight World Cup duals, plus all three of this year’s NORBA dual slaloms.
“I guess it had to end sometime,” said Donovan, who still has a firm hold on the overall standings.
Prior to the last runs of the evening, downhiller Shaums March married extreme skier and neo-mountain bike racer Aleshia Cline in an on-course ceremony. It was a nice turnaround for March, considering he broke his leg at the World Cup in Canada two weeks ago.
CHEVY TRUCKS NORBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, Mammoth Mountain, CA. July 20-22.; Dual slalom; Men; 1. Eric Carter, Mongoose-Hyundai; 2. Brian Lopes, GT-Fox; 3. Wade Bootes, Trek-Volkswagen; 4. Greg Minnaar (RSA), Global Racing; 5-8. Mickael Deldycke (F), Schwinn; Kirt Voreis, Haro-Lee Dungarees; Mick Hannah, Global Racing; Dave Cullinan, Oakley; Women; 1. Tai-Lee Muxlo (Aus), Dirtworks; 2. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense; 3. Leigh Donovan, Schwinn; 4. Tara Llanes, Yeti-Pearl Izumi; 5-8. Elke Brutsaert, Schwinn; Missy Giove, Global Racing; Melissa Buhl, ODI Azonic; Katrina Miller (Aus), Jamis; Overall standings; (through 4 of 5 events); (lowest score has been dropped); Men; 1. Carter, 480 points; 2. Lopes, 480; 3. Bootes, 360; 4. Deldycke, 420; 5. Minnaar, 300; 6. Hannah, 280; 7. Kovarik, 260; 8. Cullinan, 200; 9. King, 200; 10. Voreis, 180; Women; 1. Donovan, 600; 2. Llanes, 500; 3. Miller, 400; 4. Muxlo, 360; 5. Giove, 320; 6. Buhl, 240; 7. Elliott, 240; 8. Jonnier, 180; 9. Four tied with 160