Kabush and Nash take Mount Snow short tracks

Published: Aug. 9, 2009

Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Czech Katerina Nash (Luna) won Sunday’s short-track races at the U.S. Cup/PROXCT event at Mt. Snow, Vermont.

Kabush’s win — following victories in Saturday’s cross-country and last week’s World Cup at Bromont, Quebec — confirmed his wave of good form, which he’s hoping to ride into the world championships in Australia next month.

Nash’s win also revealed her recent good form, which she was unable to turn into a victory on Saturday after flatting while leading the cross-country.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Sunday short-track races have become something like consolation races at national series weekends. There is at least a hair less prestige associated with winning a short track, rather than a cross-country, and a more relaxed atmosphere on the start line reflects that.

But while there is perhaps less professional stress, there is often more personal pressure. There are always a few riders — OK, everyone except Saturday’s winner — determined to redeem their weekend. And Saturday’s victor is set on showing that win was no fluke.

What this all leads to is the argument that Sunday short tracks are often the best races of the weekend — all-out painfest throwdowns, like a Sunday hammer session between buddies with a few grudges to work out, all held in full public view.

Nash gnashes, Pendrel crashes

Nash was the first off the line and rode aggressively the first few laps as the women’s field shook down to a core group of five: Nash and teammates Catharine Pendrel and Georgia Gould (in her new short track national champion kit) and their Subaru-Gary Fisher rivals, Willow Koerber and Heather Irmiger.

Vermont local Lea Davison, cheered on by a raucous cadre of girls from her Littlebellas youth program, fought her way onto the back of the elite group, but then crashed on a rutty right-hander. She got up slowly, bleeding from her arm, and said later she only continued because of her cheering section.

Luna had a three-to-two advantage in the group, and Nash and Pendrel attacked several times, forcing Koeber and Irmiger to chase. Pendrel threw down a big attack just after the finish line on the seventh lap, about 15 minutes into the 20-minutes-plus-two-laps race.

“Catharine’s attack blew my mind a little,” Irmiger said later, and it looked to be the race-winning move. Pendrel quickly opened up a lead of 10 bike lengths on the climb and was pulling away when she crashed on the same right-hander that claimed Davison earlier.

“It happened so fast I’m not sure what happened,” said Pendrel, who flatted and bent her wheel and walked away disappointed.

Gould had got dropped on the accelerations so the remaining lead group became a two-to-one affair, with Subaru-Gary Fisher now holding the advantage.

But Nash didn’t give the pair any time to use their numbers, accelerating away on the climb and opening a small gap with three laps to go.

Koerber chased alone and then was joined by Irmiger. The pair worked together to close to within a bike length or two at the top of the final climb, but Nash managed to get over the top before them and held her lead to the finish.

The next five places were identical to those places in Saturday’s cross-country: Koerber was second, followed by Irmiger, Gould, Mary McConneloug (Seven-Kenda) and Davison.

Kabush plays the waiting game again

Jelly Belly road racer Jeremy Powers was the short-track newbie on Sunday, and he chatted up the competition beforehand for tips. His conclusion? At some point in short track, you have to ride yourself way into the pain zone for a lap or so. It’s just a question of when.

In the race, Kabush watched a series of other riders have their lap or two of pain (and glory) relying on his good form to keep within striking distance. Then with a lap and a half to go, the man with the trademark sideburns entered the pain zone himself and no one could stay near.

Kabush lurked in the top 10 for the first half of the race. Todd Wells (Specialized), Ryan Trebon (Kona), Carl Decker (Giant) and Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air-Specialized) traded blows at the front. Powers was close behind and Adam Craig (Giant) was out of the top 10 and looking miserable. Sam Schulz (Subaru-Gary Fisher) crashed in the same corner that claimed Davison and Pendrel earlier.

Twelve minutes into the race, Wells bridged up to Taberlay, who had attacked alone a lap earlier and was enjoying his lap or two in the pain cave.

Wells sat on the Australian rider for a lap and then took off on his own. He may have timed his effort a bit too early, however, because Kabush suddenly bridged to Wells with two laps to go, rode with him for a bit and then dropped the Coloradan on the last climb of the day, taking the win by about five seconds.

Behind, Craig had found new life and blasted by a handful of riders in the last three laps to take third.

Craig later explained that his legs were sore at the start from doing the Super D race earlier in the day, but he started to feel better late in the race (Craig finished second in the Super D, behind teammate Carl Decker).

Race notes

• Wells and Irmiger now lead the series short track competition. Check www.singletrack.com this week for more Mount Snow galleries, an interview with Lea Davison and a report on the Mount Snow Mountain Bike Festival, which was held concurrent with the races.

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