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Ramos takes no prisoners at Big Bear

Michael Traum

Who’s 11 years old, has more energy than a brick of dynamite and blows away the competition while her heart sings compassion? Amber Ramos – a bona fide star in the mountain biking world.

Ramos, competing against girls who were born before the Spice Girls started bellowing and when Beanie Babies were just another money-making idea, won a pair of races in the NORBA national championships series opener last weekend in Big Bear, Calif.

“I went into the race pretty confident. I know I can hang with any of them,” said Ramos, who won the expert class 15-18 age cross-country women’s event. “This was a serious race for me. When I race expert races, I take no prisoners.”

Through the mud and newly fallen snow that inundated the 12-mile course, Ramos stayed with the competition for about the first mile. But by the time the mud ball emerged from the tree-lined course, she was more than two minutes ahead of second place, having secured the lead during the climbs.

“Out of sight, out of mind. If I get a big lead, then the person in second place is more worried about someone passing her than passing me. (Besides) the expert racers have been doing it for a while, so they can take losing,” Ramos said. “It was freezing cold at the end. The course was like a river and the mud was sticking to you and freezing. I had a great time.”

But Ramos isn’t about winning at any cost. In fact, the contrary is the rule. She did win another race, a 12-under junior downhill. But the youngster’s budding ambassadorship status in the sport came to the front in a race she could’ve easily dominated, the 12-under junior cross-country. Racing with other girls similar in age, the 11-year-old finished last on purpose, hoping to inspire the less experienced competitors.

“I want to inspire them. If I just took off, they might want to give up. I stayed behind and picked little races with them so they can see what it feels like to race,” said Ramos, who earned praise and an official NORBA staff hat from the tour’s director. “I think every single kid should be able to feel what it’s like to be great in something. It can be school, dancing or mountain biking.”

And in what has to be a scary revelation for Ramos’ expert competition, she said she has yet to feel that “greatness” on a mountain bike.

“I haven’t felt it yet. But it can be something major when I do,” she said.

Other Tahoe racers posted good showings during the first national of the season. Diana Kramer overcame mechanical problems to win the 18-under junior downhill while her sister, Jenna, won the 18-under junior cross-country. Matt Mirell was fourth in the 14-under junior cross-country. Ken Mirell was 12th in the 45-54 sport cross-country. Chad Gerken was second in the 16-under junior cross-country and 24th in the 15-18 expert cross-country. Chris Ritchey was seventh in the 16-under junior cross-country. Peter Alexander was second in the 45-49 expert cross-country. Laurel Sorensen was 12th in the 19-34 sport cross- country. Phillip Sorensen was ninth in the 30-34 sport downhill. Kurt Lundergren was 26th in the 30-34 sport downhill. Sean Hawkins was 22nd in the 19-24 expert downhill. Robbie Tavares was 63rd in the 30-34 expert downhill. Shaun Palmer was 10th in the pro downhill.

The next NORBA national championship series race is scheduled for June 4-7 in Champion, Pa.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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