MTB News and Notes: Tough breaks for American women
Mountain bike racing will be without two of America's top female riders for a while after both Alison Dunlap and Tara Llanes suffered injuries that have derailed promising 2003 seasons in the span of three days. Dunlap went down first over the weekend, separating her shoulder in a crash at the NCS cross-country race in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Initially it was called a third degree separation, but when Dunlap got back to Colorado Springs doctors told her it was actually a fourth degree and that without surgery she wouldn’t be able to race at an elite level again. “I completely tore all the
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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor
Mountain bike racing will be without two of America’s top female riders for a while after both Alison Dunlap and Tara Llanes suffered injuries that have derailed promising 2003 seasons in the span of three days.
Dunlap went down first over the weekend, separating her shoulder in a crash at the NCS cross-country race in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Initially it was called a third degree separation, but when Dunlap got back to Colorado Springs doctors told her it was actually a fourth degree and that without surgery she wouldn’t be able to race at an elite level again.
“I completely tore all the ligaments that hold the clavicle to the shoulder,” Dunlap explained. “Right now it’s sitting so low that the clavicle is poking through the muscles. The consensus is that the only way to recover 100 percent is to have surgery. I’m going in [on Thursday] at 8 in the morning.”Following surgery, Dunlap says she’s been told it’ll be three months before she’s back to full strength, meaning it’s unlikely she’ll race her mountain bike again in 2003.“I’m not ruling anything out,” she said hopefully. “Maybe I can start riding ’cross in September…I think a lot of good can come out of this. Maybe it’s what I need to get motivated to go to the Olympics and win next year.”This is the third shoulder-area injury suffered by a Luna rider this season. At the year’s first big race, the Sea Otter Classic, both Shonny Vanlandingham and Kathy Pruitt broke their collarbones.
“I swear it feels like we’re jinxed this year,” quipped Dunlap. “I told [teammates] Marla [Streb] and Katerina [Hanusova] they better be careful.”
As for Llanes, she was scheduled to see a specialist Thursday and should know then how much time she’ll miss after breaking her left foot in a car accident (see “Giant’s Llanes breaks foot in car accident“). The initial diagnosis gleaned from her trip to the hospital in Pennsylvania was a broken bone on the top of her foot. “They said it was a clean break, so that’s good,” said Llanes two days after the accident. “They also took a bunch of X-rays of my head because I banged it pretty good. There were a bunch of indentations on the roof of the cab where I’d hit my head, but it looks like everything is okay there.”Llanes added that she was not allowed to talk about the cause of the accident, but did feel “very lucky to walk away. The [Ford F350] truck was totally destroyed. The cab was detached from the bed and the engine was pushed up through the dash. It felt like a movie, like it wasn’t real. To have just a broken foot…it could have been a lot worse.”
Pan Am Championships
Sounds like the NORBA at Snowshoe wasn’t the only place for muddy racing last weekend. Conditions were just as bad at the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in Medellin, Colombia, where Canadian Alison Sydor and Costa Rica’s Adrian Bonilla grabbed victories. According to Heather Irmiger, who was part of the four-rider U.S. contingent, it poured throughout race day, making the course a slippery mess.“If each lap took 45 minutes, I probably had to run for 30 minutes,” Irmiger said, adding that she thought she ended up in sixth or seventh place, but that no official results had been posted before the team left on Monday.
Unofficially, Canada’s Kiara Bisaro was second to Sydor, countryman Ricky Federau won the under-23 men’s race, and American Frank Mapel ended up ninth after his bike “completely seized up” near the end of the race. Carl Decker was a DNF after flatting twice. Kim Anderson said she was “about 10th.”“Feedback”
Not surprisingly there were a few folks out there that took exception with last week’s column (see “MTBNews and Notes: No whining“) in which I decried the practice of pre-race sit-down strikes. Now, while I will continue to stand by my contention that this is not the way to solve problems, Trek-Volkswagen team manager Eric Wallace does make some compelling points in this note he passed on to me this week.Wallace said that along with Eric Carter and Bas De Bever, he played a role in organizing the protest that occurred before the mountain-cross race at the Alpe d’Huez World Cup. Here’s his point-by-point perspective on the events in the French Alps.
1. Absolutely the worst courses ever. High speed and dangerous, requiring most riders to use downhill bikes. This is not in the spirit of the event. Luckily it rained during the race, otherwise it would have been a bloodbath.
2. Frank Roman, the designer, promised changes to be made to the course to slow it a bit, none of which happened.
3. The UCI point blank said that trade teams were not that necessary to World Cups and that their primary duty was to the national federations.
4. The UCI technical delegate had all of her authority taken away and couldn’t orchestrate any changes per her job description, and the organizers and promoters point blank called the tech delegate a stupid woman with no right to be involved.
5. The promoters did little marketing of the event … and the hotels didn’t even know there was an event coming until three weeks before race weekend.
This is only a partial list. There was too much other crap that I was too pissed about and forgot. I think that your article online missed the point and was a bit uninformed.
Details are a bit sketchy at this point, but according to several Web reports, reigning downhill world champion Anne-Caroline Chausson recently cut a tendon in her hand and may have to undergo surgery to repair it. No word on how much time she’ll miss.
Things went from bad to worse last week, as my Snowshoe prognostications yielded just one winner in eight attempts (Jill Kintner in mountain cross). But since the stakes aren’t very high, I’ll give it another go this week with NORBA No. 3 at Mount Snow, Vermont.
In the cross-country I’m going to jump back on the Canadian bandwagon, and tab Ryder Hesjedal and Chrissy Redden. Both riders are coming off wins in West Virginia (Hesjedal in XC, Redden in STXC), and both have the top-notch technical skills necessary for the tough and trickyMount Snow course. Redden has also had great success in Vermont in the past, winning the short track there last year, and sweeping the short track and cross country in 2001.
Short track is a lot trickier, as this year has proven to be a year of surprises thus far. First there was the historic win of Costa Rican Adrian Bonilla at Big Bear, which put an end to the Roland and Ryder win streak. Then, last weekend, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski finally broke through, earning his first career NORBA win and giving the U.S. men their first national series XC/STXC victory since Kirk Molday won the 2001 season opener.
So now the question is who’s it going to be this week? Well, there are at least five or six guys that could win, but let’s mark down Seamus McGrath. The Canadian has been so close so many times he’s bound to break through eventually. As for the women, with Alison Dunlap out, JimenaFlorit is the woman to beat.
Like short track, the downhill has become a wide-open affair with numerous contenders. And with rain in the weekend forecast, predictions become even trickier. Not exactly sure what happened to Tracy Moseley at Snowshoe. Usually the Kona rider shines in muddy conditions, but instead she finished a distant ninth over a minute behind race winner Marla Streb. Let’s call it an aberration, and put Moseley back on top at the Mount Snow downhill.
As for the men, there have been four major races this year (two NORBAs, two World Cups), and four race winners, Eric Carter, Cédric Gracia, Nathan Rennie and Chris Kovarik. This week it’s the vaunted Mount Snow downhill, roundly considered one of the gnarliest in the world. It’s also a track that has twice shattered Kovarik’s run at an NCS overall title. Both in 2001 and 2002, the Aussie Intense rider came into the NORBA finals atop the overall standings only to lose the crown to New Zealander John Kirkcaldie, after Kovarik suffered mechanical problems. Let’s turn the tables this time around and give Kovarik the win on his way to that elusive overall title.
Lastly, the mountain cross. As I said above, Kintner was the lone winner from last week’s picks, and for that I’m obligated to stick with her. Throw in the fact that one of her primary competitors, Tara Llanes, is out with a broken foot, and the BMX star Kintner should have an easy run of things. As for the men, Eric Carter is the man to beat, even though Mike King has been going awfully well, too, lately. Still, I like Carter on a hunch.