THE 1989 NORBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
We also covered the 1989 NORBA World Championships, held in Mammoth Mountain, California, in this issue. Most mountain bikers today have never even heard of that race. Our readers are probably familiar with the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which began in 1990, so how could there be a Mountain Bike World Championship in 1989?
That’s simple. The NORBA version of the Mountain Bike World Championships happened before the UCI debuted its own version of the similarly named event. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see who won the 1989 NORBA World Championship, held at the end of that year’s race season. Although Ned Overend and John Tomac were arguably the top riders in mountain biking at the time, neither of them was able to win the NORBA XC World Championship for 1989.
Ritchey’s Don Myrah won the Men’s XC title at Mammoth’s 1989 World Championship. Rishi Grewal took second. Dave Wiens got third. Ned, who was battling the flu at the time, ended up fourth; Max Jones finished fifth; and John Tomac placed sixth.
Tomac made up for his XC finish by winning the downhill event on a fully rigid bike. “My first race on a suspension fork was in 1990,” Tomac recalls, “at the Mt. Hood NORBA National. It was a Manitou fork.” Greg Herbold took second in the downhill event at Mammoth, riding the new RockShox forks, which were just starting to show up on some sponsored riders’ bikes.
In the Pro Women’s XC class, Fisher’s Sara Ballantyne was the top finisher, with Darcy Wright second and Susan DeMattei third. Susan, who would later earn a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, took the win in the hill-climb event at Mammoth, sixth in the downhill and first in the overall (combined) category.
Sara Ballantyne went to Europe shortly after winning the NORBA XC World Championship at Mammoth and won the 1989 European World Championship, too.
We mentioned elsewhere in the issue that the first UCI World Championship would be held in the summer of 1990 in Durango, Colorado. Ned Overend and John Tomac would redeem themselves by winning the first two UCI World Championships in the Men’s XC class, in 1990 and 1991 respectively, while Juli Furtado and Ruthie Matthes would win the Women’s UCI Worlds titles. Though Sara Ballantyne would never take home the Women’s XC title in the UCI World Championships, she would go on to win the first World Cup Series title in Women’s XC in 1991.
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