Canadian wins cross-country national title at Snowmass |

Canadian wins cross-country national title at Snowmass

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Geoff Kabush of Victoria, British Columbia, signals his victory in front of Jeremiah Bishop of Harrisonburg, Va., during the 2007 Snowmass Nationals pro mens cross-country race Saturday afternoon. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

SNOWMASS On paper, Geoff Kabush’s charge to the overall cross-country crown in this year’s National Mountain Bike Series looked commanding. Saturday, however, as the Canadian caught his breath and coughed up wads of spit in the finish area near the base of the Two Creeks chairlift at Snowmass Mountain, “dominating” wasn’t exactly the word that came to mind. Kabush took Saturday’s pro finale – his fourth win in six series races – but only after holding off friend and rival Jeremiah Bishop during a frenzied sprint to the finish.

After 20 miles and more than 7,000 feet of climbing on Snowmass’ elaborate system of dirt roads and singletrack, less than a second separated the two. Kabush crossed the finish line at 1 hour, 38 minutes and 20.2 seconds, while Bishop, just off Kabush’s back tire, officially finished in 1:38:21.00.”On paper, it looks dominant, but the first couple of races were really close,” said Kabush, who finished second to Bishop at the previous series race at North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain. “I played my cards right and maybe got lucky in a couple of the first rounds, but overall, it’s a really solid season on the U.S. circuit.”In the women’s finale, “commanding” was about the only word to describe Georgia Gould, of Ketchum, Idaho, whose decisive win capped a perfect six-for-six streak in the series. Gould handily captured the women’s pro race in 1:58:51.34, nearly a full two minutes faster than runner-up and Luna teammate Katerina Nash (2:00:39.84.) Nash’s silver, along with a fourth-place finish from Durango’s Shonny Vanlandingham (2:03:02.00), gave the Luna women a podium sweep in the overall standings. Heather Irmiger of Boulder was third Saturday, and finished a distant fourth overall.

Saturday marked the third day of racing at this year’s Snowmass National Finals, which wraps up today with the pro finales in downhill, super D and cross-country short-track. Along with cross-country, racers earned series titles Saturday in pro and semipro mountaincrosss and amateur downhill. Kabush and Bishop are just two of the many world-class fat-tire riders in town vying for medals and cash prizes this weekend.The Snowmass National Finals are the final big tune-up before next month’s World Championships in Fort William, Scotland. Bishop’s top priority this season is to produce a strong showing at the Worlds, which is he why he chose not to compete in all of this year’s NMBS races and forgo a shot at a possible series crown.”You have to pick your battles,” the native of Harrisonburg, Va., said. “I’ve just been trying to accumulate [International Cycling Union] points, which are critical for Olympic selection, so I’ve been selective with the races I’ve done. Today actually was an example of picking my battles, too. I wanted to win, but to be honest, I did a 100-mile mountain bike race last Saturday, and this is just part of a build. With Worlds in four weeks, now is the time where I really need to put on my best efforts.”

While cyclists can qualify for the Olympics only in an Olympic year, Bishop said the importance of accumulated UCI points rests with a nation’s overall world ranking. If the U.S. has a top-five world ranking heading into an Olympic year, it receives more spots on its Olympic mountain bike team.Kabush also has his sights set on making a name for himself next month in Scotland, and said winning NMBS series title was a good confidence-builder.The top riders in the domestic NMBS series are just as good as some of the top pros in Europe, but the competition is considerably deeper abroad, he added.”Over there, there’s 50 guys fighting for position at the top level, and here there are maybe eight to 10 guys at that level,” said Kabush, currently eighth in the world in cross-country. “North Americans, though, quite a few of us have been on the podiums at the World Cup.”

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