Source: Al Sommers
To call the 2008 mountain bike seasons of newly anointed World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar and reigning World Champion and U.S. National Champion Melissa Buhl successful would be a tremendous understatement. Today the pair added yet another exclamation point to their racing dominance by capturing titles at the second leg of the Jeep 48STRAIGHT Mountain Bike Series held at The Canyons in Park City, Utah.Despite facing one of the deepest fields in Jeep mountain bike history and intermittent rain showers that impacted the surface of the racecourse, South Africa’s Minnaar and Chandler, Ariz.’s, Buhl swept the competition without losing a heat, a feat all but unheard of since the event’s inception.
Minnaar, with two World Cup Championships and a World Championship under his belt by age 26, began the day with a win over Open Qualifier Cameron McCaul of Santa Cruz, Calif. Waiting in the second round was Great Britain’s Steve Peat, himself a three-time World Cup Champion, thus demonstrating the level of competition battling for the title. Minnaar swept past his good friend and rival to reach the semi-finals against Winter Park, Colo.’s Petr Hanak, where he won in straight races to reach the finals. In the championship heat, Minnaar faced off against World Champion and three-time World Cup titlist Eric Carter of Temecula, Calif., who had earned wins against Open Qualifiers Christopher Herndon of Etowah, N.C. and Amiel Cavalier of Auburn, Calif., as well as U.S. National Champion Cody Warren, who had captured the title at the first race of the season in New Jersey. In the finals, Minnaar outran the veteran Carter in both runs to earn the title. Hanak topped Warren in the consolation heat to earn the final podium spot.
“This year I have had great success in dual slalom competitions, having already won two of them,” said Minnaar. “I really wanted to win this one, and I pushed hard. When you add up the three World Cup wins and the overall World Cup Championship, plus three dual slalom wins, this has been a solid year for sure.”
Buhl’s day was no less spectacular, featuring wins over Open Qualifiers Lisa Myklak and Tammy Donahugh, both of Boulder, Colo., to earn a spot in the finals. There she would face off against Jeep mountain bike racing veteran and three-time World Cup winner Fionn Griffiths of Great Britain. Griffiths reached the championship heat following a defeat of Open Qualifier Allie Burch of Patterson, N.Y. and a shocking upset of U.S. National Champion Kathy Pruitt, winner of the first leg of the series. In the finals, Buhl was just too powerful, winning both races against Griffiths to win her long-awaited first Jeep title. Pruitt earned third place with a win over Donahugh in the consolation heat.
“I came into Utah feeling really confident, focusing on my own race and making all of the jumps I needed to make,” said Buhl. “The weather definitely impacted everyone’s plan, and I had to race just a bit more conservative at times than I normally would. But I’m thrilled to get out of here with the win, and I couldn’t be happier with how the season went. I’m very excited about the final race in San Luis Obispo, where I like the dirt and racecourse and have a chance to win the season championship.”
The prize purse for Jeep 48STRAIGHT tops $100,000 with additional bonuses from sponsor Paul Mitchell. The winners at The Canyons pocketed $5,000, with cash earnings for each finisher through 16th place. Points are awarded during each race, and the overall series champion will receive the keys to a new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Each event of the Jeep 48STRAIGHT summer season will receive national broadcast coverage on CBS Sports, representing the most visibility of any mountain biking event in the sport. The event at The Canyons will air on CBS Sports on Oct. 12.
Jeep 48STRAIGHT will now head to San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Oct. 24-25 for the season’s grand finale. Men’s Standings
1. Greg Minnaar – South Africa
2. Eric Carter – Temecula, Calif.
3. Peter Hanak – Winter Park, Colo.
4. Cody Warren – Alpine, Calif.
5. Chris Van Dine – Park City, Utah
6. Amiel Cavalier – Auburn, Calif.
7. Jared Rando - Australia
8. Steve Peat – Great Britain
9. Mike Haderer – Concord, Calif.
10. Kyle Strait – Costa Mesa, Calif.
11. J.D. Swanguen – San Diego, Calif.
12. Logan Binggeli – St. George, Utah
13. Jonathan Watt – Broomfield, Colo.
14. Christopher Herndon – Etowah, N.C.
15. Jake Kinney – San Diego, Calif.
16. Cameron McCaul – Santa Cruz, Calif.Women’s Standings
1. Melissa Buhl – Chandler, Ariz.
2. Fionn Griffiths – Great Britain
3. Kathy Pruitt – Santa Cruz, Calif.
4. Tammy Donahugh – Boulder, Colo.
5. Leslie Slagle - El Cajon, Calif.
6. Allie Burch – Patterson, N.Y.
7. Jackie Baker – Park City, Utah
8. Lisa Myklak – Boulder, Colo.http://www.48STRAIGHT.com