August 28, 2005 – Former world mountain bike champion and two-time Olympian Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) captured a victory in the final NORBA National cross country race of her storied career on Saturday with a win in Mount Snow, Vt.
With retirement on the horizon in less than a month, Dunlap took the win in the eighth and final race of the 2005 Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series while teammate Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) clinched her second consecutive overall series title with a second-place effort on the day.
Heading into today’s women’s cross country final, Vanlandingham had a commanding 100-point lead over second-ranked Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) in the overall series standings and a NORBA series title was more or less in the bag barring any mishaps during the 18-mile race.
At the end of the first of thee laps on the six-mile circuit, Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) had opened up a 25-second lead on Dunlap with the hopes of successfully defending her victory in Mount Snow from a year ago, but a lap later Dunlap had taken control. In the lead and with a 45-second gap on Vanlandingham and one lap remaining, Dunlap kept the pressure on while her teammate was content to race for second place with the overall title all but secure.
A lap later, the sentimental crowd favorite who last won at Mount Snow in 2002 crossed the finish line in a time of one hour, 52 minutes and 31.07 seconds to claim the win ahead of Vanlandingham and move into third overall in the final cross country standings.
Haywood, the biggest yet remote threat to Vanlandingham’s overall title, finished eighth on the day to drop to fifth overall
The men’s series also saw a repeat winner as Canadian Geoff Kabush took both the race win and the overall series title after an impressive ride that left no doubt in anyone’s mind who the strongest rider was.
Entering the race with a slim 33-point lead over Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) and a 67-point advantage on Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.), Kabush needed only to finish in front of his closest challengers or remain closely behind to secure the championship. Instead of riding defensively however, Kabush was aggressive in leading a nearly all-Canadian podium with a decisive win and an emphatic stamp on a series that saw him close out the season with his fourth win of the year.
Craig was the first rider on the attack and led the four-lap race for the first two laps, but as the field wound its way around for the start of the final lap, Kabush had overtaken the lead.
Once on the front, Kabush continued to push the pace, eventually finishing first ahead of two-time world champion and countryman Roland Green. (CAN)
Seamus McGrath (CAN) ensured a sweep of the top three spots for Canada while Craig finished fourth ahead of Matt Toulouse (CAN).
Horgan-Kobelski finished sixth to retain his second-place ranking in the final overall standings.
In gravity racing, the overall series title in the pro women’s mountain cross came down to the final heat in the consolation round of Saturday’s dual slalom between series leader entering the event, Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) and Australian Katrina Miller.
Buhl held just a seven-point lead over Miller and after Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) advanced to the finals, Miller and Buhl were paired against each other in the consolation round.
Racing for third place on the day and the overall series championship, Miller edged Buhl by just one point to claim the championship.
In the primary final, Pruitt bested Llanes for the win.
In the men’s dual slalom, an all-Southern Hemisphere final between Australian Jared Graves and New Zealander John Kirkcaldie went to Graves as he claimed his fourth win of the year and the overall series title.
Also on Saturday, Mark Weir (Novato, Calif.) and Abigail Hippely (Boulder, Colo.) rode to wins in the pro men’s and women’s super D while Mike West (Boulder, Colo.) and Jennifer Whalen (Idaho Springs, Colo.) clinched overall series titles.
2005 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series #8
Mt. Snow, Vt.
Pro Women’s Cross Country
1. Alison Dunlap
2. Shonny Vanlandingham
3. Dara Marks-Marino
4. Willow Koerber
5. Kelli Emmet
Pro Men’s Cross Country
1. Geoff Kabush
2. Roland Green
3. Seamus McGrath
4. Adam Craig
5. Mathieu Toulouse
Pro Men’s Dual Slalom
1. Jared Graves
2. John Kirkcaldie
3. Cody Warren
4. Jared Rando
5. Christopher Herndon
Pro Women’s Dual Slalom
1. Kathy Pruitt
2. Tara Llanes
3. Melissa Buhl
4. Katrina Miller
5. April Lawyer
2005 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series Champions
Pro Women’s Cross Country – Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.)
Pro Men’s Cross Country – Geoff Kabush (CAN)
Pro Women’s Mountain Cross – Katrina Miller (AUS)
Pro Men’s Mountain Cross – Jared Graves (AUS)
Pro Men’s Super D – Mike West (Boulder, Colo.)
Pro Women’s Super D – Jennifer Whalen (Idaho Springs, Colo.)