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August 2, 2005 – As part of its SportsCenter Across America campaign, ESPN’s flagship news and information program heads to Snowshoe Mountain, W. Va. on Thursday, August 18th for the seventh round of the 2005 National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) National Mountain Bike Series. Billed as a “50-states-in-50-days summer tour,” ESPN’s SportCenter is visiting a different sporting event in a different state for 50 consecutive days, stopping at the long-time NORBA national venue of Snowshoe Mountain for the penultimate event of the eight-race, season-long, world-class mountain bike series. With a complete SportsCenter set, live audience, and anchor Matt Winer on hand, ESPN comes to one of the quintessential sporting events germane to the state of West Virginia and a staple on the NORBA national circuit since 2001.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity for ESPN to touch our viewers and to personally meet the fans who watch us every day,” said Norby Williamson, senior vice president and managing editor. “Along the way, we will educate our viewers about the varied sporting events popular throughout the country, and point out the well-known, and perhaps not-so-well-known, athletes and events from West Virginia.” One of those well-known athletes is Davis, W. Va. native Sue Haywood, who rides professionally for the Trek/Volkswagen Mountain Bike Team.

A two-time U.S. National Short Track Cross Country Champion, Pan American Champion, and perennial podium contender on the NORBA and UCI World Cup circuit, Haywood was recently named to represent the United States at the upcoming UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Livigno, Italy this September. Haywood is also the current points leader in the overall Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series cross country standings and sits second behind the Czech Republic’s Katerina Hanusova in the short track standings. Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.) is another accomplished rider from the state who was also named to the U.S. World Championship Team and is a member of the USA Cycling U23 National Mountain Bike Team program housed at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

“It would be tough to figure out a better way to highlight and promote our largest mountain biking event,” says Bill Rock, Snowshoe Mountain’s general manager. “We’re very proud to be chosen by ESPN as its West Virginia site for the 50/50 promotion, the mountains are going to be a great backdrop for SportsCenter”. On August 18th, the four-day competitive mountain bike event kicks off at 9:00am with the marathon, one of the fastest growing disciplines of mountain biking in which some of the world’s top ultra-endurance off-road specialists will tackle a 48-mile course that features 5,800 feet of climbing over two laps of a 24-mile circuit. Featured in Thursday’s marathon is five-time 24-hour solo world champion and two-time national champion, Chris Eatough (Ellicott City, Md.). Eatough is also the current NORBA national series leader and defending champion from last year’s stop at Snowshoe Mountain. Racing continues on Friday when pro gravity riders take center stage in the mountain cross event, a four-up BMX-style descent down a technical banked and jump-filled course.

On Saturday, competition is highlighted by the traditional Olympic-discipline pro cross country event in which several men’s and women’s domestic and international Olympic team members will apply their trade. Also on Saturday, a second gravity-themed event will be held as the dual slalom makes its second appearance at a NORBA national this year. Racing concludes on Sunday with three more pro events, the spectator-friendly short track cross country, in which Olympic athletes will make their second appearance of the weekend, the harrowing downhill event and the emerging super D discipline. “This is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase the sport of mountain biking on a larger-than-usual stage,” commented USA Cycling chief executive officer Gerard Bisceglia. “As one of the cornerstones of the NORBA series in recent years and with world-class athletes competing in seven pro events throughout the weekend, Snowshoe Mountain provides one of the best possible opportunities available to us to feature our sport.” Also to be featured on the SportsCenter broadcast is the Challenged Athletes of West Virginia’s Mountain Biking program.

The organization helps physically and mentally challenged people, young and old, enjoy the outdoors through athletic endeavors, such as mountain biking and skiing.

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