By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Take a look at the overall NORBA National Championship Series standings through two events (Snow Summit and Snowshoe) and you’ll notice an alarming trend. If the season ended today, the series winners in six of the eight disciplines would be non-Americans and two of the U.S. national championship jerseys would be awarded to Americans who weren’t even in the top-five.
Canadians would walk away with three of the overall series titles (Roland Green in the men’s cross country and short track, and Chrissy Redden in the women’s short track), while the Australians would take three more (Mary Grigson in the women’s cross country, Wade Bootes in the men’s dual slalom, and Chris Kovarik in the men’s downhill).
Only Americans Missy Giove (women’s downhill) and Leigh Donovan (women’s dual slalom) would win both a national title and a NORBA series championship.
At the other end of the spectrum is the plight of U.S. male cross-country riders. Through two events, eighth place — Marc Gullickson in cross country and Carl Swenson in short track — would be the spot where the 2001 NORBA national champions would come from.
In the men’s downhill the star-and-stripes jersey would be awarded to the fifth-place man, Colin Bailey. Brian Lopes, third overall, is the top American in men’s dual slalom. Susan Haywood (third in short track) and Ruthie Matthes (second in cross country) would round out the 2001 national champs.
Compare these numbers to last year and you see how far the Americans are in jeopardy of falling. In 2000 overall titles were split four to four between the Yanks and the rest of the world, with Steve Larsen (cross country), Eric Carter (downhill), Giove (downhill) and Lopes (dual slalom) all representing for the home team.
A year later Larsen is currently 33rd in the cross country, while Carter sits 26th in the downhill.
In the other four events, the worst top-American finish in 2000 was in the men’s short track where fifth-place finisher Swenson won the national title. A third-place (Ann Trombley in the women’s short track) and a pair of seconds (Cheri Elliott in women’s dual slalom and Ruthie Matthes in women’s cross country) accounted for the other two national championship jerseys.
The Americans will get a chance to reverse this trend over the weekend at NORBA national No. 3 in Deer Valley Utah. But with Green, Grigson and a slew of other on-form non-Americans in the mix, don’t hold you’re breath. Just be thankful that most of the Europeans won’t be there.