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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor
The changes just keep coming for the 2004 NORBA National Series. This timeit’s the pro and semi-pro downhill format for the third stop in Big BearLake, California. Instead of a traditional time-trial format, race organizershave decided to bring back downhill mania where four racers will take onthe track at the same time.
“The course will be wider so there’s more passing potential and shorterthan a traditional downhill,” explained Team Big Bear’s Tom Spiegel. “We’llstart with a qualifying run, then put everyone in brackets.”
And yes, points awarded for the downhill mania race will countin the overall series standings.
“There will be no regular pro downhill. We just wanted to do somethingdifferent,” added Spiegel. “We think it’s a good thing to have differentpeople winning races.”
This new race format will not affect amateurs, who will continue torace the standard downhill.
Meanwhile, on the sponsorship for the series front Spiegel said therewas no new news to report, calling it a “never-ending battle.”
Setting things straight
Reigning NORBA cross-country series champ Jimena Florit checked inover the holiday weekend to set the record straight on her chances fornext summer’s Olympics. Despite facing long odds to grab one of the fourwild card startline spots, Florit says she’s confident she’ll be in Athenscome August.
“Although I failed to qualify in the conventional way, I know that Istill have a legitimate chance and I will work all the way until I getit,” wrote Florit in an e-mail. “I am going to the Olympics regardlessof the qualification criteria. One of those wild cards will be mine. Mytraining and traveling schedules are being organized around an Olympictrip. That’s my status, and I don’t want anybody to think that I am givingup that easy. That’s not me.”
Subaru-Gary Fisher update
Got official confirmation on Tuesday that Subaru-Gary Fisher has workedout a deal to bring former SoBe-Cannondale rider Kerry Barnholt on boardfor 2004. According to team manager Tyler Pilger, Barnholt will join holdoversRyder Hesjedal, Chrissy Redden and Liam Killeen. Unlike a year ago, whenKilleen split his allegiance between the Fisher team and the U.K. nationalteam, the reigning under-23 World Cup champion will be a full-time Fisherrider this coming season.
As for Barnholt, who was a surprising 12th in the women’s cross-countryrace at the 2003 world championships, Pilger sees big things down the road.
“We’re really looking forward to having Kerry on the team,” Pilger said.“She showed a lot of speed this year and she wasn’t even racing full time[because she was attending physical therapy school]. But we think withschool done she’ll be that much better.”
Pilger added that his team initially made overtures to reigning U.S.national cross-country champion Mary McConneloug, but McConneloug optedto stay put with Seven.
Check out the December 2003 issue of Outside magazine, and you’llsee a familiar face in the cover story on “25 Sports and Adventure GoddessesWho Rule.” On the bottom of page 130 is long-time mountain-bike pro LesleyTomlinson, who the magazine says “has proved that age is a state of mind,gamely moving from one discipline to another when she needed a new challenge.”
Indeed, besides running the show for the Rocky Mountain-Crystal Decisionsteam, Tomlinson, 43, has been part of two-straight TransAlp Challenge winningteams.
Still, Tomlinson, said the Outside honor wasn’t something she’dexpected. “I am in pretty amazing company. I certainly don’t feel worthy.”
Waddell benefit calendar
The latest effort to help downhiller John Waddell on his road to recoveryis 2004 calendar being put together by DH Productions.
“Everybody in the downhill and freeride scene has either seen or heardabout Johnny’s unfortunate situation,” read a press release issued by thecompany. “To help offset some of his medical and rehabilitation expenses,Johnny’s friends and sponsors have teamed up with the world’s best MTBphotographers to produce this amazing calendar. All proceeds from the purchaseof this calendar are going to help Johnny and his family achieve theirgoals.”To purchase the 2004 Benefit Calendar for Johnny Waddell visit www.dh-productions.com.