Nash Golden in Colorado
Truckee is well represented in many outdoor sports. Mountain biking is no exception.
Four Truckee residents ” Katerina Nash, Heather Svahn, Justin Swett and Paul Zarubin ” faired well in the NORBA Snowmass National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) Finals in Snowmass Village, Colo., on Aug. 12-13.
Nash, who races professionally, showed why she is among the best in the business.
The LUNA Chix team member backed her No. 1 ranking in the NORBA Series Pro-Women Short Track with another first-place finish, ensuring her title as NORBA champion in the event.
“The Short Track was pretty hard because it was the last race of the year, and everybody was fighting for the overall,” said the 28-year-old Nash, a former Nordic skier who moved to the United States from the Czech Republic in January of 2000. “My strategy was to help my teammates, but they didn’t have the legs. So my second goal was to go for the victory.”
While Nash cruised for much of the race knowing she needed only a top-20 finish to lock up her Short Track title, she went ahead and dusted the field anyway.
“I didn’t want to take any risks. I knew I just had to finish, so it was a conservative race. But in the end I saw the opportunity for victory, and I went for it,” said Nash, who Nordic skied for the Czech Republic in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics and placed 19th in the Cross Country mountain bike event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
In Colorado last weekend, Nash placed third in the Cross Country race for sixth place overall on the NORBA season, which began in Fontana, Calif., on May 5.
Although she wrapped up her season in the NORBA Series, Nash is not done.
Friday she leaves for New Zealand, where she will vie for the Cross Country World Championship. Short Track, Nash’s specialty, does not exist on the international level, she said.
After the World Championship, Nash will return to the Northern Hemisphere for the World Cup Finals in Austria on Sept. 8.
“I’m hoping for a top 10,” she said of the World Cup, “but we’ll see how things go. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Even then Nash is not done, as she plans to transition straight into cyclocross racing in the Bay Area. That lasts from the end of September to mid November.
“Finally after that I’ll take some time off,” Nash said.
Heather Svahn, an eight-year Truckee resident originally from Baltimore, placed ninth in the Pro Women Super D (downhill) and 33rd in the Cross Country race.
Ranked second in Super D in the NORBA Series, Svahn, 32, said she was a bit disappointed in her results.
“It wasn’t a great race for me. Overall on the season I did very good, but the races didn’t go as well as I had hoped, particularly the Super D,” she said. “I’ve been on the podium several times this year, and so I had high expectations for that race.”
Despite not meeting her expectations, Svahn still finished the NORBA season in second place overall in the Super D and 20th in the Cross Country. Svahn said the fact that she remained in the top 20 in the Cross Country eases the disappointment of her 33rd-place finish in the Finals.
“I just did enough,” she said of her top 20 result.
And she had fun doing it.
“The race course was great. The riding there is outstanding,” said Svahn, who rides for the Northern California-based Team Contentworks. “It’s challenging and beautiful. They put on a very challenging race.”
While Nash plans to continue racing for another few months before hanging up the bike for the season, Svahn said the NORBA Finals marked her final race for a while.
“The nice thing is that it was the last race of the year. Now I’m definitely going to relax and catch up on some sleep,” she said. “I want to enjoy some trail running with my dog and some long, easy bike rides.”
Justin Swett, a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Maine who has lived in Truckee for about a year and a half, placed 13th in the Men’s 25-29 (age group) Expert Cross Country race.
While the points he earned from the race bumped him from sixth place to fifth in the overall NORBA standings, his results would have been better had it not been for an unintentional detour.
“That was a really bad race for me,” Swett said. … “I went 7 or 8 miles out of the way.”
Swett chose the wrong route at one crucial junction point on the course. After realizing his miscue, Swett said, he was forced to backtrack in order to finish the race. And he wasn’t the only racer who got wasn’t clear about which route to follow.
“There was a lot of confusion,” he said, explaining that the race official in charge of directing traffic at the junction was helping a man who had separated his shoulder. “Those things happen.”
But Swett’s determination to retrace and finish the race earned him fifth place on the NORBA season, and that’s good enough for him to apply for Semi-Pro status, he said. Swett doesn’t want to stop there.
“My vision is to eventually go pro, and then just keep moving up the ranks,” he said.
Also competing in the Expert Cross Country race was Paul Zarubin, who at age 52 races in the 50-54 age group.
Zarubin said he was satisfied with his third-placed finish in the Cross Country race, which earned him eighth place overall in the NORBA Series.
He could have placed higher had he not missed three of the seven NORBA events.
“I’ve been kind of busy this year, so my racing got cut back,” he said.
“My goal was actually to podium, so I accomplished my goal,” Zarubin continued. “It was something long coming. It’s been a horrible season because of lack of training and bad luck.”
Zarubin hopes to turn around his luck in the coming years, as his goal is to win a NORBA title in two years, when he will be the youngest in the Expert division 55-59 age group.
While Zarubin likes to win, he also enjoys seeing his neighbors do well.
“My highlight was watching Katerina (Nash) win the short track,” he said. “She was incredible … It’s awesome watching her race.”