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The Mountain Zone Mountainbiking NAVBAR

'97 World Championships @ Cahateau d'oex, SUI.
1997 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF MOUNTAIN BIKING
HIGHLIGHTS:

Race Photos:
Anne-Caroline Chausson On

Nicolas Vouilloz - Champion

Katja Repo Arrives

Johnny T. - All America

Mercedes Gonzalez

Cedric Gracia Gracefulness

Katrina Miller - Fast Aussie

Steve Peat - "God save the Queen"

Tomas Misser Mastery

Elke Brutsaert - Top American

Missy's Arrival to Finish Area

Missy Giove with Fans

Marcus Klausman Takes Fourth

Women's Winners

Men's Winners


Audio:
Downhill Story & American hope Missy Giove getting emotional

Results:
Men's
Women's

JUST THE FACTS:

Schedule:
Sep. 19, 1997
U-23 Men's Under 23 Cross Country
2:45 Swiss Time (5:45 PST)

Sep 20, 1997
Downhill Finals Men and Women
9:00 - 16:00 Swiss Time (Midnight - 7:00 PST)

Sep 21, 1997
Cross Country Finals Women
10:00 Swiss Time (1:00 PST)
Cross Country Finals Men
1:30 Swiss Time (4:30 PST)

Course Characteristics:
Downhill
Single track: 24%
Wide track: 76%
Climbing: ..yea right!
Highest point: 1,610m
Flat: Ahhh..what???
Height differential: 675m
Finish elevation: 935m
Average grade: 16%
Lowest point: hurtin' on the ground
Expected course time:
5-7 minutes depending on your self preservation instincts.

THE ZONE'S LIVE COVERAGE FROM
CHATEAU D'OEX, SWITZERLAND

Ann-Caroline Chausson France Down With The Downhill
Sunn-Nike wins men's & women's DH championships.

(Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Geneva time) Nicolas Vouilloz and Anne-Caroline Chausson took care of their country and sponsor this afternoon by dominating the world's best descenders in a hectic World Championship event here in Chateau d'Oex. By beating all comers, this incredible duo has now won every single world championship race in which they've competed.

In a further poetic twist, both of the World Cup points champions - Missy Giove (USA, Volvo/Cannondale) and Corrado Herin (ITA, Sintesi-Verlicchi) were taken out of the final run by mechanical problems within the first few turns of the race and wound up completely off the back when the dust settled. Giove has qualified first by more than 16 seconds while Herin had qualified second behind Vouilloz, which made their losses today that much harder to take.

WOMEN:
Juniors kicked things off this morning at 9:00 a.m., racing until nearly noon when the senior women took over. 50 of the world's best honchettes busted out of the gate in 30 second intervals until Mikki Douglass (USA, Mt. Dew/Specialized) went 20 from last and began a 2.5 minute interval race for the live national television station. Katrina Miller (AUS, KHS) had gone off early and placed herself at the top of the leaders board with a solid time which held until Leigh Donovan (USA, Mongoose) - riding on a partly broken leg - took over the lead with a 7+ minute run.

Elke Brutsaert (USA, Schwinn-Toyota) soon took second place whereupon Swiss rider Marielle Saner then ripped down the course, taking over the lead. Pre-race fave Nolvenn LeCaer (FRA, GT) couldn't do anything, then Kim Sonier (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) placed herself in 3rd place. Mercedes Gonzalez (ESP, GT) came down the mountain next for a 4th, Giovanna Bonazzi (ITA, Sintesi-Verlicchi) missed the top mark, then Finnish beauty Katja Repo showed that yesterday's stellar seeding run was no fluke by posting the second fastest time thus far. A year after being dumped by Specialized - "Shaun Palmer was expensive I guess," she quipped, Repo has taken a couple top ten results this season but was stunned to have done so well in seeding. "I came across the line and thought maybe the timing was wrong!" she said in Finnish English. Anyway, watch for this woman next season to possibly break into the upper ranks.

Mikki & Missy, American rockstars Back on the racetrack, things now got interesting as even the cows which surround this course took a break from grazing to watch the two remaining women go at it. Missy Giove and Anne-Caroline Chausson have been battling it out all season as Giove moved to France to train and race, garnering a WC title for her efforts. With a huge margin over Chausson in Thursday's qualifiers, Giove was the odds-on favorite for the title of big cheese. Chausson came flying down the course and across the line, stopping and immediately looking up the hill for Giove who was due within the next two and half minutes. But it was not meant to be for Giove today as the announcers indicated that she was having trouble on the course and would not win. Pumping her fist a bit, Chausson smiled broadly as she realized she was once again to wear the rainbow stripes for the next season.

Giove eventually turned up at the finish, throwing her bike down and writhing in mental agony as she fumed over her misfortune on course. Pausing long enough to congratulate Chausson with a hug, Giove freaked out a bit more before relaxing enough to tell the Zone what happened. "I went about 50 yards and took a corner really tight, and got the banner (tape) caught up in my wheel. I had no idea what was wrong at first, but it froze my brake up," Giove said as she succumbed to her disappointment and continued in tears. "So I had no fucking brake and hit the first corner and was like "ahhh!" - and was running into people and shit - totally on my ass. So I got up and tried to go again and was like 'what's wrong with my brake?' So I stopped and tried to fix it. I took the wheel off but couldn't get it back in, and that's about all. After that I wasn't racing, just riding down the hill."

Demonstrating how much she's matured in this sport, Giove finished by saying "It wasn't meant to happen for me today. I'm happy that she won, but I just wish I could have done it in a good way." She then signed autographs for fans as she remained surrounded by people for a good 20 minutes before finally getting to roll away and soak in her horrendous day.

For Chausson, it was a glorious victory, and one which she plans on savoring. "This race today is like a crown in my season," she said. "I've had some good times but also some low times and this is a glorious win for me." Asked about her run, Chausson said "I saved my energy up top for the technical sections. It helped me have a good time, but I would have preferred to have dueled with Missy to see who really had the faster time. I'd like to prove who is the faster of us two, but that was not the case today."

MEN: The truth be told, the men's qualifying run on Thursday was a bit more exciting than today's final as 20 men - including the en fuego Steve Peat (GBR, GT) had been penalized for various reasons and started today's field of 110 men. Also, with 2 and a half minutes between runs for the TV guys to refocus their cameras, the final event had a bit too much waiting around. But, with thousands of fans waving flags and eating crepe in the finish area, it was a festive atmosphere under perfect weather.

Nicholas Vouilloz Penalized in the seeding run for breaking the tape, Peat went last among the 20 other bad boys in the final and quickly assumed the position of leader. The only other rider to threaten in these early goings was Australia's Michael Ronning (Gary Fisher) who also went early from a bad seed and took the number 2 position. Things remained this way until Alexandre Balaud (FRA, Scott) took over in 2nd.

U.S. rider Eric Carter (Rotec) took over the lead with only the top riders remaining, then lost it to Jurgen Beneke (USA, Schwinn-Toyota) who lost it to John Tomac. Tomac, who said he had a great run except for a couple small mistakes, held on the lead to the very end when the invincible Nico came down lastest and fastest to the cheers of many a French fan. Meanwhile Cedric Gracia (FRA, Sunn-Nike), who had seeded third fastest, took second behind Tomac then moved to third when Vouilloz topped everyone by 6 long seconds. Speaking of 6, that's how many rainbow jerseys Nico now has hanging on the line outside his house. "I don't know if anyone can beat him in a World Championship," Tomac commented after watching his successful DH-only season close with a silver lining.

John Tomac (USA, Silver) "I made a few small mistakes," Tomac (at right) continued, adding with a chuckle "but I didn't make seven seconds worth." Asked if he was satisfied with his finish, he said "Yes and no. I've been silver before and I really wanted a gold to end my career... but you can't always get what you want. And there's always next year."

World Cup winner Corrado Herin (ITA, Sintesi Verlicchi) succumbed to nearly the same fate as fellow WC champ Giove by flatting his front tyre early in his run. Riding the course sans control, this amazing Italian - who was also the biggest threat to Vouilloz - came across the line in a most unusual position... dead last.

After the race, everyone headed back to the village to watch an unsanctioned, unofficial Dual Slalom race down a short steep hill next to a beer garden just before dark. 32 men and 16 women raced for huge cash prizes and great photo ops over the double as flyin' Brian Lopes (USA, Mongoose) took a 3-man head-to-head final run against Dave Cullinan (USA, Schwinn-Toyota - at least for this race) and Shaun Palmer (USA, Mt. Dew/Specialized) to garner the official title of un-official DS World Champion.

And so it went, with France bringing two more gold medals home to their enthusiastic fans. Tomorrow will see XC action, so check back then as we represent in Suisse. We're now off to the big red tent for a big Saturday night shin-dig before charging the batteries for Sunday's feature event. Now go back to work!

By Ari Cheren ([email protected]), holding a tape recorder and baguette.

FINAL RESULTS:
Women
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Sunn-Nike) in 6 minutes, 59 sec.
2. Marielle Saner, (SUI, Scott) at 19.63 seconds back.
3. Katja Repo (FIN, Tunturi) @ 22.92
4. Elke Brutsaert (USA, Schwinn-Toyota) @ 27.05
5. Giovanna Bonazzi (ITA, Sintesi-Verlicchi) @ 32.65
6. Kim Sonier (USA, Volvo/Cannondale) @ 33.57
7. Mercedes Gonzalez (ESP, GT) @ 34.17
8. Leigh Donovan (USA, Mongoose) @ 36.94
9. Nolvenn LeCaer (FRA, GT) @ 37.57
10. Katrina Miller (AUS, KHS) @ 49.28

Men
1. Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Sunn-Nike) in 6 min., 22 sec.
2. John Tomac (USA, Giant/Answer/Manitou) at 6.19 sec. back.
3. Cedric Gracia (FRA) @ 6.22
4. Marcus Klausmann (GER, Sintesi Verlicchi) @ 7.79
5. Jurgen Beneke (GER, Schwinn-Toyota) @ 9.05
6. Steve Peat (GBR, GT) @ 10.70
7. Myles Rockwell (USA, Volvo/Cannondale) @ 10.85
8. Tomas Misser (ESP) @ 13.10
9. Johan Engstroem (SWE, Scott Intl) @ 13.15
10. Bas DeBever (NED, VSB-Batavus) @ 13.67