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By Fred Dreier
High school champs crowned in California
California’s NorCal and SoCal high school mountain bike leagues converged on Boggs Mountain state park outside of Calistoga on May 17 for the 2009 state championship cross-country race. The final event for both the leagues attracted 374 high school racers to battle in four categories: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Sophomore and Freshman.
Schools competed in both the Division I and II, meaning in total, eight individual and two team championship prizes were awarded.
It marked the first time the NorCal and new-for-2009 SoCal leagues met, and the race was as much a celebration of the growth of high school mountain bike racing as it was a championship event.
“We now have more than 600 school kids competing in California high school leagues,” said Matt Fritzinger, the league’s director. “The SoCal riders did just great, we can see there is a lot of talent already in that league. There is so much going on in high school mountain biking, but as the pinnacle of what we are doing, this event made me proud.”
Drake High School in San Anselmo escaped with the coveted Division I team NorCal series title, finishing ahead of San Rafael and Nevada Union High Schools.
San Marin High School took home the Division II title ahead of Marin Catholic and Monterey Bay High School.
El Cerrito High rider John Bennett rode away with the Varsity Boys title in Division I. Bennett, who won the race in 2008, represented the United States at the 2009 UCI world championships in Val di Sole, Italy. Freshman rider Shayna Powless, who was riding as an independent competitor, took home the Division I Varsity Girls title. Nate Byrom and Christine Wier of Nevada Union high school finished second.
Bryan Duke of Salinas High School won the Junior Varsity Division I Boys title with Courtney Crosta of Woodcreek high school took home the Junior Varsity Division I Girls title.
Andrew Taylor of the Contra Costa composite team took home the Division II Junior Varsity Boys title.
Southern California rider Peter Morris of the Newport Beach composite team took home the Sophomore Boys Division II title. Roman Brockley of Drake High won the Sophomore Boys Division I and state championship. Morganne Endicott of San Ramon Valley won the Sophomore Girls series, while Sofia Hamilton of Drake High became the state champion.
The Frosh category winners were: Isaiah Rapko of Berkeley High (Division I series and state championship); Herculaas Botha of San Marin High (Division II series and state championship); and Sofia Gomez Villafane of Los Gatos High (series and state championship).
Chile Challenge Continues Pro Gravity Series
New Mexico’s Angel Fire resort will once again host the Chile Challenge mountain bike racing weekend this Memorial Day. The event, which is the second race of Colorado’s Mountain States Cup, features cross-country, short track, Four cross, Downhill and Super D racing.
The Chile Challenge has long been a fabled race within the Rocky Mountain region, and owns a 21-year history. In 2005 Angel Fire hosted a round of the UCI World Cup, and the courses from that event are still used for the pro and amateur class events.
Last year the event crowned the USA Cycling national champions in the sport of Mountain cross.
This year the Chile Challenge is again a major target of the country’s best gravity racers, as the event carries UCI Category 2 points for Four cross and Downhill. The race is also the second round of USA Cycling’s Pro Gravity Tour, a five-race series of UCI-sanctioned races.
The cross-country races will likely attract the region’s fastest male and female riders.
The weekend also includes Bike Polo matches, live music, a horseshoe tournament, hot air balloon rides and a tech expo.
For more information, go to www.racemsc.com
McConneloug, Naef win Otztaler Forest Cross-country
American Olympian Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) won Austria’s Otztaler Bike Festival cross-country on May 17. The Fairfax, California, native took her first major victory of the season by nearly nine minutes on Austrian rider Maria Osl.
Winning the men’s race was Switzerland’s Ralph Naef (Multivan-Merida). Naef crossed the line 2:18 up on Alban Laktata of Austrial. American Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) finished 10th.
Peat, Jonnier Top World Cup DH Standings
After three rounds of the UCI Downhill World Cup, Great Britain’s Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) leads the standings with 645 points, with his teammate and 2008 World Cup winner Greg Minnaar in second with 518 points.
Peat, 34, recently took his 17th career World Cup victory, winning the series’ third round in Vallnord, Andorra, on May 17. The victory boosted the Brit into the record books as the all-time winningest man in the series’ history.
Frenchman Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) leads the women’s downhill series. The 2006-07 world champion won the last two rounds of the World Cup, held in Vallnord and La Bresse, France. Noticeably absent from the standings is Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton, the reigning world and World Cup champion. Atherton is still recovery from a nasty collision with a car suffered earlier this year in Santa Cruz, California, and is expected to return to racing by the season’s midpoint.
In Four cross racing, Australian Jared Graves leads the series, having won the first two of three rounds. Graves (Yeti-Fox), a 2008 Olympic BMX participant, leads Roger Rinderknecht of Switzerland 325 points to 195.
Defending World Cup champion Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands leads the women’s World Cup. Beerten won the World Cup opener in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on April 11. American Jill Kintner, who took the second World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium, slipped to third place after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Andorra.
World Cup Downhill Standings (after three rounds)
1.Steve Peat (GB), Santa Cruz Syndicate, 645 points
2.Greg Minnaar (SA), Santa Cruz Syndicate, 518
3.Michael Hannah (Aus), GT Bicycles, 512
4.Gee Atherton (GB), Animal-Commençal, 482
5.Samuel Hill (Aus), Monster-Specialized, 427
1.Sabrina Jonnier (F), Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, 642 points
2.Tracy Moseley (GB), Trek World Racing, 640
3.Emmeline Ragot (F), 525
4.Myriam Nicole (F), 372
5.Fionn Griffiths (GB), Norco, 300
World Cup Four cross standings (after three rounds)
1.Jared Graves (Aus), Yeti-Fox, 325 points
2.Roger Rinderknecht (Swi), GT, 195
3.Joost Wichman (Nl), 193
4.Romain Saladini (F), 140
5.Michal Prokop (Cz), Author, 125
1.Anneke Beerten (Nl), Suspension Center, 225 points
2.Fionn Griffiths (GB), Norco, 175
3.Jill Kintner (USA), Red Bull-Intense, 170
4.Jana Horakova (CZ), 165
5.Romana Labounkova (CZ), 90