By Dave McElwaine
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru) claimed his first cross country win this season at the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) finals in Brian Head, Utah. While he narrowly lost the American Mountain Classic stage race last weekend, also held at Brian Head, it did allow him the chance to acclimatize to the 10,000 ft. altitude, which paid off for him today.
"I put Brian Head on my radar early in the year. I thought 'what a great way to end the season it would be to win there,'" said Horgan-Kobelski.
Ross Schnell (Trek/VW) continued an amazing weekend by finishing second while Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) took third ahead of Colin Cares (U-23 National Team), and Andy Schultz (Kenda Titus).
Kabush's third placing was enough to win the Canadian his second consecutive NMBS Cross Country Championship.
"For the first 10 minutes the race was neutral up the road climb, which was good for me," said Kabush. "I crested the hill in about 10th place. It is hard to just race 80 percent so I just started to go hard. It definitely hurt but I could see the leaders ahead of me. Most of the race I was sixth to eighth and was able to pick off a few guys near the end. J.B (Jeremiah Bishop) had a flat, then I passed Colin - he looked really strong."
Cares made it onto two podiums this weekend, easily his best result as a young professional. Schultz also capped off his best season by finishing fourth in the series. He and brother Sam (Gary Fisher/Subaru) are two of the brightest lights on the mountain biking horizon.
Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB) got her second cross country win in the women's race at Brian Head. After appearing on countless podiums for many years, Nash earned her first cross country victory at Deer Valley earlier in the season.
Olympian Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB) was second, followed by Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher/Subaru), Lea Davison (Trek/VW), and Willow Koerber (Gary Fisher/Subaru).
Nash won the NMBS short track title on Saturday, making it a productive weekend for the rider. In total she had six wins this year, despite suffering a deep gash to her knee at the Fountain Hills race.
Gould knew going into the race that she had to be within three positions of Nash to nail down her NMBS title. By finishing second she easily had enough points to take the top step on the overall title podium. Irmiger finished third in the series again this year with Davison in fourth and Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) in fifth.
The action packed weekend of racing also included downhill, short track, dual slalom and super D. After the dust settled, Brad Benedict (X-Fusion) and Darian Harvey (SoBe/Cannondale) took home the downhill series trophies; Petr Hanek (Totally Wired) and Melissa Buhl (KHS) won the dual slalom / 4X series; Barry Wicks (Kona) and Nash triumphed overall in the short track series; and Carl Decker (Giant) and Michelle Rivera (StevenKSD) won the Super D overall.