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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Anne-Caroline Chausson added yet another accomplishment to her amazing resume Sunday, becoming just the fifth woman to sweep the gravity events at a NORBA national. A day after the Frenchwoman won the dual slalom at Snow Summit Resort in Big Bear Lake, California, Chausson captured the season opening downhill, besting second-place finisher Sabrina Jonnier by more than six seconds.
In the men’s race it was Aussie Chris Kovarik taking the day. The Intense rider backed up his No. 1 qualifying run, outgunning Maxxis’ John Kirkcaldie by more than two seconds in the final.
Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale) had qualified second behind reigning NORBA champion Missy Giove in the morning session. But Giove (Global Racing) crashed early in her final’s run, and settled for 19th. The rest of the women’s podium went Marla Streb (Luna), then Tracy Moseley (Kona) and Chumba Wumba’s Lisa Sher.
Giove, Penny Davidson, Leigh Donovan and Cheri Elliott are the only other women to have swept NORBA weekends. Giove and Donovan both did it three times.
“I wasn’t sure about the win because Missy’s time in the morning was so good,” admitted the six-time defending elite world downhill champion Chausson, who covered the 1.26 miles in 3:27.8. “This is a hard course because of all the pedaling. I just wanted to go as good as I could and do the best I can.”
As for Giove, it was a bitter disappointment after beginning the day so well. “I clipped a pedal and went over the bars hard,” she explained afterward. “I crashed hard.”
Kovarik, who picked up his fourth NORBA downhill win, made his way down the course in 3:08.0, and was the only rider to go below 3:10. Canadian Dustin Adams (Giant), Foes-Azonic’s Jared Rando and 2001 Snow Summit winner Mick Hannah (Haro-Lee Dungarees) completed the podium.
“I was a bit messy in a few sections,” said Kovarik of his trip down the dusty track. “But I was on it during the pedaling sections and I think that was the difference.”
Kovarik also benefited from the fits given several top contenders by the second to last turn on the course. Podium threats Cédric Gracia, Nathan Rennie and Kirt Voreis all slid off course there. Maxxis rider Colin Bailey was the top American finisher, taking sixth.
The NORBA circuit now gives way to the World Cup, before reconvening on June 14 at Alpine Valley Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
NORBA NCS NO. 1; Snow Summit Resort, CA; May 10-12; Downhill; Women; 1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale, 3:27.8; 2. Sabrina Jonnier (F), Intense, 3:34.1; 3. Marla Streb, Luna, 3:34.6; 4. Tracey Moseley (GB), Kona, 3:35.0; 5. Lisa Sher, Chumba Wumba, 3:36.7; 6. April Lawyer, Maxxis, 3:37.6; 7. Tara Llanes, Yeti-Pearl Izumi, 3:38.7; 8. Vanessa Quinn (NZ), Intense, 3:39.6; 9. Kathy Pruitt, Real Optics, 3:40.2; 10. Tai-Lee Muxlow (Aus), Dirtworks, 3:40.6; 11. Melissa Buhl, KHS-ODI, 3:45.1; 12. Danni Connolly, Dirtworks, 3:46.0; 13. Gale Dahlager, Razor Rock, 3:49.6; 14. Diana Marggraff (Ecu), Royal Orange, 3:50.5; 15. Dawn Bourque, Harpoon, 3:51.9; 16. Rachel Lloyd, Santa Cruz, 3:52.4; 17. Hiroko Inomata (Jp), Foes, 3:53.1; 18. Sara Johnson, 3:56.0; 19. Missy Giove, Global Racing, 3:57.2; 20. Anka Martin, Turner, 3:59.0
Men; 1. Chris Kovarik (Aus), Intense, 3:08.0; 2. John Kirkcaldie (NZ), Maxxis, 3:10.4; 3. Dustin Adams (Can), Giant, 3:11.6; 4. Jared Rando (Aus), Foes-Azonic, 3:12.0; 5. Mick Hannah (Aus), Haro-Lee Dungarees, 3:12.9; 6. Colin Bailey, Maxxis, 3:13.2; 7. Myles Rockwell, Giant, 3:13.7; 8. Eric Carter, Mongoose-Hyundai, 3:14.6; 9. Joel Panozzo (Aus), 3:14.7; 10. Nathan Rankin (NZ), Foes-Azonic, 3:15.0; 11. Nathan Rennie (Aus), Yeti-Pearl Izumi, 3:15.3; 12. Todd LeDuc, Foes-Azonic, 3:15.9; 13. Cédric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale, 3:16.0; 14. Kirt Voreis, Haro-Lee Dungarees, 3:16.0; 15. Rich Houseman, 3:16.4; 16. Markolf Berchtold (Bra), Global Racing, 3:17.1; 17. Richard Lancaster, WTBB-DD Inc., 3:17.6; 18. Shaums March, Red Bull, 3:18.2; 19. Bryn Atkinson (Aus), Royal Orange, 3:18.3; 20. Philip Tinstman, Mad Catz, 3:18.8