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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Stop No. 4 of the NORBA National Championship Series kicks off Friday at Mammoth Mountain. It will mark the 13th time — every year of its existence — that the NORBA series has come to this growing four-season resort town, which sits high up in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada range.
Friday’s action will feature cross-country racing with the pro women slated to get going at 11 a.m. local time, followed by the men at 2 p.m. The biggest challenge for all the competitors will be the thin air, as much of the cross-country course rises above 8000 feet.
A year ago Mammoth was the site of the NCS finals, and it was then that Steve Larsen and Mary Grigson capped a pair of incredible years, winning here to seal claims to the overall NORBA titles. A year later Grigson (Subaru-Gary Fisher) is back on top of the overall standings after winning the first two races of the season, plus last weekend’s World Cup cross country in Durango, Colorado. But Larsen (L.L. Bean-Stairmaster) hasn’t faired as well, making it onto the podium just once this year, when he finished fifth at NCS No. 3 in Deer Valley.
Instead it’s the young Canadian phenom Ryder Hesjedal who is atop the men’s cross-country standings. The 20-year-old Subaru-Gary Fisher rider has been on fire this year, winning the short track at the NORBA season opener at Big Bear, then taking both the short track and cross country races in Deer Valley.
Saturday is double-header day with women’s and men’s short track races scheduled for 3 and 3:30 p.m., followed by the dual slalom at 4:30. The downhill is set for Sunday afternoon, with the women starting at 1:30, then the men at 2.
Check back to VeloNews.com all weekend for reports and results.