Mammoth effort from Tahoe racers |

Mammoth effort from Tahoe racers

David Greco

Mammoth Mountain hosted the NORBA National race series last weekend and proved why the event has been the definitive experience in downhill racing since its inception 12 years ago. The Kamikaze Downhill is regarded by racers as the best course on the American circuit and it draws the best racers in the sport.

Several Tahoe area mountain bikers showed up at the premier event and scored some respectable finishes in several categories against some very tough competition.

In the men’s pro downhill, South Lake’s Shaun Palmer took the lead with 20 racers still to go before the last of the field came blistering down the Kamikaze at speeds approaching 60 mph.

Jeremy Purdy of Reno ended up in first place with a time of 4 minutes, 22 seconds, followed by Kirt Voreis and Todd Snider. Palmer finished seventh in the Kamikaze and went on to place second in the dual slalom.

During the slalom event, Palmer was riding like a man with a mission when he collided with Eric Carter in the finals and was at a 1.5-second disadvantage going into the final heat. Palmer won the last run, but not by enough margin to offset the penalty and Carter took first.

Palmer is currently in second place behind the legendary John Tomac in National Cup points.

The spectators were the real winners as they were treated to quite an exciting show in both downhill events, and it clearly showed what kind of talent shows up at Mammoth.

Mikki Douglass, talking about retiring at the end of the season, was the overall winner in the pro women’s Kamikaze, followed by Cheri Elliot and Lisa Cher. Kim Vandersyde of Olympic Valley finished 27th in the pro category.

In the expert cross-country category, Amber Ramos finished fourth in women’s 18 and under. After dominating the beginner’s category last season, Ramos has decided to move up to a more competitive category. She also won the Ezakimak, the infamous hillclimb up the Kamikaze course, in the expert category. Ramos is in her second year of racing. Christopher Ryalls of Zephyr Cove captured eighth in the pro men’s hillclimb and Thomas Regan took first in expert men 45 and up.

In the Citizen Kamikaze, Morgan Peckenham of Truckee placed 10th in the semipro category and Rod Mainey of South Lake Tahoe finished 16th in expert men 30-34.

Dave Clock came in 20th in expert men 35-44 and Phillip Sorensen of Zephyr Cove finished 10th in men’s Sport 30-34. In Beginner men’s 19- 24, Grant Korgan of Incline Village finished in first place and Paul Marlowe of Stateline had a sixth-place finish in Beginner men’s 45 and up.

The South Shore racing community has seen some fresh new talent emerge this season, and they made themselves noticed with some strong finishes at Mammoth.

In the beginner’s XC category, rookie twin sisters Diana and Jenna Kramer placed third and fourth, respectively, and Diana also placed fourth in the Kamikaze.

Although they are twins, the girls find opposing appeal in different areas of biking. Jenna prefers the grueling nature of cross-country climbs and the sprinting of BMX while her sister prefers the speed of downhill.

“Downhill is cool because it’s fast and crazy and out of control,”

said Diana of her downhill preference.

“Yeah,” interjected Jenna. “And because you don’t have to work your tail off.”

While the two get along like typical sisters, they do agree that the camaraderie of team cycling keeps them excited about competition.

“Racing for South Shore Shore Bike Shop is cool,” Diana said.

“Yeah,” said Jenna, completing her sister’s thought. “I didn’t think I was going to do so well and then all the guys on the team were like, ‘You’re going to go out and kick some butt.’ It really helps.”

Matt “Mad Dog” Mirell, another young South Shore rider full of promise, finished 15th in Junior men’s under 14 category. Mirell placed 20th last year, and said he felt that the Thursday Night Race Series had provided him with a good training regimen.

“I use it (the series) like training. Last year, I wasn’t that good at my uphill climbs. This year I’ve had a lot of improvement. I think the difference is my climbing strength I’ve been training a lot,” he said.

Mirell is the series leader for the Junior men’s category.

Other finishes in cross-country included Mario Gallardo of King’s Beach with a fifth place in men’s Sport 15-18, Garry Morgan of Truckee finished fourth in Sport Men 30-34, Eddie Walker placed 18th in

Sport men 35-44 and Ken Mirell finished 15th in Sport men 45-54.

Mirell and Walker are both from South Lake Tahoe.

Ragnar Hakansson of Tahoe City took first in Masters 55-64 and Dorene Scarbrough of Truckee finished seventh in women’s Sport 35-44.

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