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US riders stay home

SNOW SUMMIT, Calif. (May 21, 2000) — Though she holds
a bachelor’s degree in German, downhiller Elke Brutsaert (Durango, Colo.) taught
her competitors a history lesson Sunday when she won her second consecutive VISA
Downhill National Championship Series race, May 21, at Snow Summit Resort, Calif.

Sunday’s victory marks Brutsaert’s 10th national downhill win, putting in her a first-place
tie with Schwinn Toyota RAV4 teammate Leigh Donovan (Capistrano Beach, Calif.) and
’99 national champion Missy Giove (who was competing in France May 21) for most-career
national downhill wins. Donovan finished second Sunday.

In the men’s gravity event, Giant rider Myles Rockwell (Durango, Colo.) won over
’92 national downhill champion Dave Cullinan (Mission Viejo, Calif. — Schwinn Toyota

As a sign of things to come, Brutsaert, a nine-time U.S. World Mountain Bike Championship
team member, was also first in Sunday morning’s qualifying round. The former road
cyclist made easy work of the new VISA Downhill course, which sent riders down 2.2
miles over 1200 feet.

"I’m always happy to start off the season with a first place. It takes the pressure
off, and with Leigh (Donovan) in second, we had an awesome showing. There were some
parts of the course I didn’t go hard on, like the jumps at the end," said Brutsaert,
who competes next in Europe at the World Cup Series. "It’s too big of a risk
to take this early in the season. But I did clear some of the jumps. Part of the
sport is putting on a good show for spectators."

Donovan, a local favorite at Snow Summit, held the lead briefly after beating out
17-year-old up-and-comer Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif. — Sunrace/Santa Cruz)
by more than 6 seconds. For Pruitt, the ’99 Junior World Mountain Bike Championship
silver medalist, Sunday’s performance was her best national finish.

"It’s cool to finally be up there on the podium. I always thought I could do
it, but I didn’t know if I could do it. The course didn’t exactly suit my style,
but I like to go fast and that’s what I did," Pruitt said.

In the men’s event, Rockwell, the 2000 Winter X Games Biker X winner, had redemption
in mind. After leading the national downhill series in 1999, he was forced to pull
out of the national finals due to an infection in his knee and forfeited the national
title. There would be no question Sunday that he was back on form.

"High-speed, wide-open terrain really suits me. I was surprised I was going
so fast. I thought maybe I was a half-second off, but I was psyched to see the clock
when I go to the finish line. I’m so stoked to be back on top after the way things
have gone the last few years," Rockwell said.

Three-time open-heart surgery survivor Dave Cullinan (Mission Viejo, Calif. — Schwinn
Toyota RAV4) held the top spot briefly before Rockwell took over. Cullinan also suffered
injury last year, breaking his arm at the third round of last year’s national championship

"After my injuries last year, I’m almost feeling 100 percent. I put a lot of
pressure on myself today so I could prove myself to the national team coach and show
that I’m capable of performing well internationally. I always knew I could do it,
but it feels good to actually do it," said Cullinan, a six-time U.S. World Mountain
Bike Championship team member. "My training has helped me a lot, but I really
feel like a weight is off my shoulders now that I’ve performed so well. I’m happy
with my finish."

After two rounds of the downhill World Cup in Europe, the U.S. World Mountain Bike
team will compete at the 2000 World Mountain Bike Championships, June 7-11 in Sierra
Nevada, Spain. For the most up-to-date information on mountain biking and the U.S.
World Mountain Bike Championship team, visit


Pro Women: 1. Elke Brutsaert, Durango, Colo. (Schwinn Toyota RAV4) at 4 minutes and
17.28 seconds; 2. Leigh Donovan, Capistrano Beach, Calif. (Schwinn Toyota RAV4) @
2.34 back; 3. Kathy Pruitt, Lake Almanor, Calif. (Sunrace/Santa Cruz) @ 9.46; 4.
Vanessa Quin, Frankton, New Zealand (Giant) @ 13.65; 5. Cheri Elliott, El Dorado
Hills, Calif. (Cheri Elliott/Maxxis/ODI) @ 15.45; 6. Lisa Sher, Laguna Beach, Calif.
(White Bros/Azonic) @ 16.16; 7. Tai-Lee Muxlow, Cardiff, Australia (Intense) @ 17.12;
8. Nicole Grant, San Diego (Fox/Intense) @ 18.32; 9. Melissa Buhl, Chandler, Ariz.
(Rock Shox Devo) @ 18.78; 10. Tera Meade, Kamloops, BC, Canada (Java Cycle) @ 21.22

Pro Men: 1. Myles Rockwell, Durango, Colo. (Giant) at 3 minutes and 52.66 seconds;
2. Dave Cullinan, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Schwinn Toyota RAV4) @ 2.93; 3. John Kirkcaldie,
New Zealand (Rocky Mountain) @ 3.81; 4. Johnny Waddell, Perth, Wash. (Pro JrX Team)
@ 4.50; 5. Michael Ronning, Australia (Intense) @ 4.72; 6. Joel Panozzo, Australia
(Santa Cruz) @ 5.18; 7. Scott Sharples, Australia (Haro/Lee Dungarees) @ 5.76; 8.
Jared Rando, Australia (Pro JrX Team) @ 6.05; 9. Colin Bailey, Big Bear Lake, Calif.
(Intense) @ 6.11; 10. Rich Houseman, Temecula, Calif. (Tomac) @ 6.21.


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