New season means change for NORBA mountain bikers
Prize money has shrunk and a day of downhill pro practice has been eliminated, but these changes won’t deter Tahoe from sending a posse of riders to the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series this weekend at Snow Summit.
Among the bikers expected to compete in the Friday through Sunday event in Big Bear, Calif., are John Brown, Sean Hawkins and Amber Ramos.
NORBA, which attracted 11,135 riders to its events last year, made several changes before the 2001 season.
One noticeable change is the reduction of practice time for pro riders.
“At the request of team directors and industry suppliers we have reduced pro/semipro practice times by eliminating Thursday’s pro practice. Our goal is to help with travel time to and from venues, wear on equipment and staff and increase time for expert-level racers,” said Eric Moore, managing director for NORBA.
NORBA has also reduced prize money, citing a decrease in revenue following the 2000 Olympic Games.
“The management of the series was faced with reducing the number of races, raising entry fees or reducing prize money,” Moore said. “We felt that the reduction of prize money affects the smallest number of participants. We understand that this will not be a popular decision, but the other options were much more detrimental to the series as a whole.”
This likely will only impact one local rider, Christina Probert, who turned pro last year after making a quick transition from cross country racing.
Ramos, a freshman at South Tahoe High, is also contemplating a venture into the pro ranks. However, because of her age, 14, she must receive approval from NORBA officials. They are supposed to meet this weekend to discuss the possibility of allowing her to race as a pro during the NORBA stop in July in Deer Valley, Utah.
In the meantime, Ramos has other concerns. With her track and field season finally complete following a fifth-place finish at the state meet, she feels uncomfortable entering such a big mountain bike race without more preparation.
“I might end up doing cross country instead of King of the Hill,” she said. “I don’t know if I want go just because there’s a race that’s there. I want to go in there feeling confident.”
If Ramos goes through and competes in King of the Hill, she’ll be required to do cross country on Friday, super hill climb and short track on Saturday and a point-to-point sprint Sunday.
Registration continues through Friday and Saturday for some of the events. Dual slalom and cross country finals are Saturday and downhill Sunday.
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