By Steve Medcroft
In another sign of the second coming of American mountain biking, US cross-country national champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru - Gary Fisher) scored a fifth in the Angel Fire World Cup cross-country race; his best ever finish in World Cup competition.
The remarkable thing about the result is that Horgan-Kobelski is just reovered from a horrible fall early in the year at the Sea Otter Classic where he had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital for treatment. "I broke seven ribs and my sacrum," he says about the crash. Sacrum? "It's the lower-most bone in your spine, at the base of the tailbone. I fractured it and was pretty lucky I didn't do more damage." Lucky because the bone is a junction which routes the bundles of nerves that feed a racers second-most important asset: his legs.
The crash was season threatening for both physical and mental reasons but Horgan-Kobelski focused on recovery and not on the potential damage to his season. "I was on the trainer after a week," he said. "Then on the road bike. Then the mountain bike a couple of weeks after that. It was about a month before I could de really intense workouts."
It's been three months since Sea Otter and Horgan-Kobelski is still feeling the effects of the crash. "I bruised my right rotator cuff so I have instability in my shoulder that still bothers me," he says. "But the ribs feel great."
He's been able to race well at recent NORBA and World Cup events, but the true test of his recovery would come at what Horgan-Kobelski says was one of his major goals of the year - to stand on the World Cup podium at Angel Fire. The first U.S.-based World Cup in three years, Angel Fire's altitude seemed to suit Horgan-Kobelski's style. "I feel this was a good course for me."
The rest, as they say, is history. The U.S. champion placed fifth at Angel Fire and took his step on the podium alongside Christoph Sauser (Siemens Cannondale), Geoff Kabush (Maxxis), Erwin Bakker (Heijdens-Ten Tusscher) and Kashi Luechs (Bianchi Agos).