Olympians, world champs rolling in for National races
Three former world champions registered Thursday, joining a field with at least two U.S. Olympic Team mountain bikers, setting the stage for a top-gun shootout in the National Off Road Biking Association (NORBA) Snowmass National Championship Series races in Snowmass Village this weekend.Racing opens today with amateur division action and more practice riding. The pro-division cross-country race is slated for Saturday afternoon, with the pro downhill and mountain cross races Sunday. (See complete schedule page A17).Olympians Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski of Boulder and fellow Coloradan Todd Wells will be competing in the 26-mile Big Burn Cross Country race on Saturday. And yesterday the downhill field grew to include two former world champions: Durango’s Miles Rockwell and Californian Mike King. Californian former world champ in mountain cross and dual slalom Brian Lopes also checked in for the weekend, according to event officials.Organizers expect more premier riders, including a few other cross-country specialists who will be competing at the Athens Olympics later this month, to register as the races draw closer.Thursday served as a practice day on all the courses in the five events – cross country, short track cross country, downhill, super downhill and mountain cross. All the courses touch Fanny Hill at some point, including the Big Burn Cross Country course start and finish, and the Bonzai and Luge Downhill finishes. The mountain cross course is entirely on Fanny Hill, up from the Snowmass Village Mall, while the short-track cross-country course is just downhill from the mall.Event officials are expecting up to 1,500 competitors total.”We’re getting very positive feedback on the courses,” said Pamela Jean, event director. “They’re liking the singletrack, they’re really enjoying how the mountain cross course flows, and the difficulty of the downhill and cross-country courses.”Course maps will be available all weekend at the event headquarters at the Snowmass Ticket Pavilion (or online at http://www.snowmassnational.com). The mall, Jean said, makes for a good starting off point for spectators. “Everything’s within walking distance,” she said.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.