Posted by Editor on 08/7/99
It was a day for Australia at round 7 of the Swatch Dual World series in Bromont, Quebec. Katrina Miller kept her winning streak alive by the smallest possible margin, and the men welcomed a new rider to the winner's circle, with BMXer Wade Bootes completely dominating the competition.
There had been worries that rain (which had fallen all week) might ruin the Dual course, but Mother Nature smiled in the morning, and the sandy course began to dry out quickly under the sun. Except for the very bottom of the course, where things were a little sloppy, the racers pronounced the course one of the better ones so far. "It was fun" said Miller. Men's second place finisher Eric Carter agreed, adding "every race it gets better and better. As they (the course designers) dial it in we can concentrate on racing, and not worry about either rider getting a lane advantage."
"That was definitely the closest race I've ever had" said Miller, after beating Leigh Donovan at the line in a photo finish final. The 15 rider field lost one rider even before the start of competition, when Tara Llanes, second overall in the standings, broke her collarbone training on the downhill. Among the favourites, Lisa Sher and Giovanna Bonazzi went out in the first round. After that, the only ride that was expected to be close was Sari Jorgensen against
Malin Lindgren. However, the Swiss rider, last year's Junior World Downhill champion, seemed to hesitate early in the heat, opening the door for Lindgren to ride away with the win.
Donovan quickly disposed of Lindgren in the semi-final round, while Miller overcame Cheri Elliot to take the other Finals spot. The ride-off for third (between Lindgren and Elliot) proved to be a forewarning of the first place ride: the two riders were so close that when they crossed the line, neither knew who had won. Elliot was declared the victor, but said afterwards "it was a tie. We were sooo close that I don't know how they told us apart."
In the women's Final, Donovan immediately took the lead, rocketing over the first jump and opening it up even further as the two headed down the course. Almost all the spectators had given the win to Donovan by the time the riders were in the final third of the course. However, Miller had an ace in the hole. "I had been practicing all morning on the last part, and I had the bottom dialed. I knew that if I took a wider run through the bumps, then I would have a straighter run to the finish." It worked, with Miller literally throwing her bike across the line to take her sixth victory (she skipped Squaw Valley, after injuring her ankle).
The men's draw didn't offer the same nailbiting finish, but the racing was completely open, particularly after series leader Brian Lopes injured his ankle during training an hour before the start of the event. Despite taping it, he was in obvious pain and retired in the second round. Last week's winner, Eric Carter, was having no problem with his ankle, though, and cruised through the draws to the Final. Wade Bootes made it look even easier, as he annihilated his competition. His semi-final against Richard Houseman was made simpler when Houseman tried to jump before the gate was comlpetely down, and did a front endo down the ramp!
In the final it was the Wade Bootes show from start to finish. Carter stated "Wade rode really good, really fast. He caught me off guard on the first jump, when he took a line more to the centre, and then I was off my rythm all the way down as I tried to catch up. It was a great ride, and it's good to see someone else at the top for a change."
Bootes, a BMX racer out of Australia who makes his home in Dallas, Texas, attributed his result to "my BMX experience. I am really good out of the gate, in the turns." Prior to this race, his best performance was in Squaw, where he finished 8th. Currently, he is dividing his time between BMX (he recently attended the BMX Worlds, winning straight races until crashing out in the semis) and the North American Dual circuit. "I hope to try the World Cup circuit next year, but we'll see what my sponsor says." After today's race, the odds are certainly looking more favourable...
- After last week's win, Miller was virtually unbeatable for the overall series. Now, she is mathematically untouchable (as long as she starts the series final, in Kaprun). Her goal now is "to keep my tally unbroken." Lopes, on the other hand, has more than his ankle to keep him awake at night - Eric Carter has closed to within 20 points, so the racing should be very intense in Kaprun.
- Tomorrow's downhill is drawing mixed reviews from the racers. While a few are praising its difficulty, the majority, particularly the women, are calling it almost too difficult. "It is a survival course" says Giovanna Bonazzi. "This time (in training) I make it down, next time I might not." One of the more problematic sections is the Flint Stones - a section towards the bottom of the course that has been used in cross country World Cups (and the 1992 Worlds). However, rather than threading their way through a series of boulders and short dropoffs, the downhillers go right over the edge of an enormous drop. Fans can expect to see some spectacular action tomorrow.
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