Palmer wins at Big Bear |

Palmer wins at Big Bear

David Greco, Tribune Correspondent

As thousands of mountain bike fans descended upon Big Bear Lake

for the World Championship Series, one couldn’t help but wonder why such an event is missing from the Tahoe area.

This is prime real estate for mountain biking and the lack of a world-class race here shows either apathy or oversight.

With the visitor’s authority struggling to define Tahoe, racers and fans from all over took their bikes and dollars down south. At least Kirkwood will have a bike park this year, hopefully a sign of things to come on the

South Shore.

But Snow Summit was a beautiful sight to behold and the Tahoe area was


Shaun Palmer of South Lake Tahoe rode fast and hard to take first in the pro downhill. And he won the race with his own in-your-face style before donning his gold lame victory suit for the podium appearance. Looking sharp and talking smack, he let everyone know that he’s on the scene. He later placed fifth in the dual slalom before heading off to South Africa for a three-stop tour.

Big Bear is Palmer’s favorite course and he showed it by letting it all hang out on the rough and technical terrain.

“It’s sandy, tight, loose dirt. It’s more like motocross, I dig it here,” Palmer said. “I’m undefeated here; I’ve won four times in a row: two experts, two pros.”

Even after crashing in the qualifying round, Palmer managed to finish 16th before taking home the title.

“I just went way too hot into a turn and crashed. Did a little Superman in some dirt. I didn’t sweat it,” he said.

He had barely enjoyed his win at Big Bear before planning for his next races abroad.

“I’m looking forward to all three of them, all World Cups. Hopefully I can start those off like I started the NORBA tour,” he said.

Other Tahoe downhillers included Sean Hawkins, who finished 21st in expert men and Morgan Peckenham of Truckee finished seventh in semipro men.

In the cross-country category, young Amber Ramos continued her winning ways as she took first place in the hillclimb and second in the cross-country race for women under 18.

She also continued to break new ground in biking as she is the only amateur invited to train with Team GT.

“That’s an honor. It’s always been a great dream of mine to ride with all the pros. I always told my dad, ‘One day’, it just happened sooner than I thought,” said Ramos of being asked to train with the team.

In between mountain bike races, Ramos competed in her first BMX race and took third place. When asked if she felt any pressure from being so busy, Ramos replied, “I think it’s really fun to keep in shape. Having three races in one weekend kept me ready to go. I was happy with what I was doing.”

Other Tahoe riders at Big Bear included Zephyr Cove’s Chris Ryalls, who finished 27th in the pro men’s category and Tahoe Vista’s Mark Roberts,

who finished 56th in the pros.

The NORBA World Championship Series will return to California on July 26 at Mammoth Mountain.

Maybe someone from Tahoe will have a good look at what impact a world class event can have on a local economy and try to bring one here. In the meantime, they’ll just keep going elsewhere.

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