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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Although she admits that “no one is going to clear me,” oft-concussed downhiller Missy Giove says she’s planning to race a full World Cup and NORBA schedule this year.
“I don’t want to go out like I did last year,” said the 30-year-old, who crashed in sight of the finish line at the 2001 world championships. “Right now I’m riding better than ever.”
Over the years, Giove has suffered multiple injuries, including three concussions at last year’s world’s alone. During the offseason she underwent a battery of tests on her brain, which have left her doctors concerned about her continued racing.
“Nobody really knows for sure,” Giove said. “The brain is very mysterious, even to the experts. I just have to go on how I feel. Right now I feel good and I feel confident.”
Giove did admit that she skipped this year’s Sea Otter Classic because it would give her a little more recovery time before the 2002 season kicks off in earnest with NORBA No. 1, May 9-12 at Big Bear Lake, California.
“My doctors said if you do choose to race, try to wait as long as possible,” Giove explained. “By skipping Sea Otter I gave myself another two months.”
Giove also says she’ll make some subtle changes to her approach to the sport, in hopes of avoiding further injury. She’ll keep a large stock of custom-fitted helmets nearby, and says she’ll get rid of a helmet if it takes even a small hit. And she’s planning on backing off just a little bit.
“It’s definitely going to make a difference in my decision making,” Giove said. “In the past if there was something other people weren’t doing, I might still try it if I thought I could. I probably won’t do that this year. But there’s nothing any top World Cup racer will do that I won’t do. If I felt like I was really putting myself in jeopardy I wouldn’t ride. But I don’t feel that way.”
The native New Yorker, who moved from her longtime home in Durango, Colorado, to San Diego this offseason, is one of America’s most decorated mountain-bike racers. During her decade-long career, she’s won an all-time record 13 NORBA downhill races, plus the last three overall titles. In World Cup racing she’s second on the career-wins list with 11, and owns two overall titles. Giove also won gold at the 1994 world championships in Vail.
This is the last year of her contract with Global Racing, but she says she doesn’t have to race. “I have a clause in my contract that says if I get hurt I still get paid,” she said. “But I feel good right now. I just have to do what I know how to do.”