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By Fred Dreier
Short track, the fast and furious format of cross-country mountain bike racing, is coming back to the top end of American mountain bike racing.
The ShoAir-Specialized US Cup, the new 13-race series of cross-country mountain bike races nationwide, will feature three stand-alone short track events this year. The races will be held at the April 19 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California; the August 16 Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, New York; and the September 26 U.S. Cup finals in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The three-race series will be called the Trailwatch.net Triple Crown Short Track presented by Escape Adventures.
“I’ve been getting a lot of input from the pro riders, team mangers and industry insiders to bring short track back in any capacity for 2009,” said U.S. Cup marketing director Ty Kady. “The simple truth is the budget was tapped to offer pro riders a short track series and prize money, given we have focused all our energy into legitimizing cross country racing in the U.S. again.”
The action-packed racing format was a favorite among racers and fans alike. In 2008 Barry Wicks (Kona) and Katerina Nash (Luna) won the overall short track series at the now-defunct National Mountain Bike Series.
When promoters of the new U.S. Cup unveiled their 2009 schedule, many riders complained that the 13-race series included only traditional cross-country events and no short track.
The US Cup received the resources to offer the three races from Trailwatch.net and EscapeAdventures.com. The latter is an eco-friendly cycling and multisport tourism outfitter.
Trailwatch.net is a mountain bike and cyclocross Web site owned and operated by Dave McElwaine, who works has a freelance writer and photographer for numerous cycling publications and Web sites, including VeloNews.
“It’s our hope to get some more sponsorship dollars for 2010 and run a full blown short track series in conjunction with the PRO XCT tour next year,” Kady said.