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Noble effort among mountain biking heroics at Bear Creek

Ellen Noble frequents the Mekhong Thai restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine for two reasons.

First, the 18 year old loves the food. Second, she runs into former President George H. W. Bush.

"You never know whom you might see," she said.

Sunday at the USA Cycling Mountain Biking National championships at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Longswamp Township, Noble recorded her second national title this weekend by dominating the junior short track from the outset in 25 minutes, 49 seconds. The girl who considered bagging mountain biking has become someone people might want to see, too.

"I didn't want to go out that early," she said. "It actually stressed me out. I thought the other girls were going to go with me."

Sitting on a split chamois mended by duct tape, Noble routed runner-up Ksenia Lephina by one minute, 49 seconds and third place finisher April Nabholz of Felton, Pa., by 2:26.

"I only raced short track once before," she said, finishing fifth in that race. Noble actually considered quitting mountain bike racing altogether, preferring cyclo-cross racing. "I guess I'll stay with this a little longer," she said after also claiming the Super D title earlier in 6:50.7, almost two minutes ahead of the runner-up.

Noble had won one national title before, two years ago in Madison, Wisc. That junior cyclo-cross victory followed her father's abrupt death after his battle with colon cancer.

"He died five weeks after being diagnosed with it," she said. "He was 45. Normally doctors don't even test for it until age 50."

Noble, who sells lobsters for $10 an hour to help fund her cycling, felt an additional tailwind at Bear Creek. She normally excels on descents, but this weekend she was equally lifted on the climbs.

"This whole weekend is way beyond what I set (as a goal) for myself," said the recent high school graduate who drives to Massachusetts most weekends to train.

The final short-track races involving the professionals resulted in paybacks for both genders. In the women's race, Georgia Gould edged Chloe Woodruff and defending champion Lea Davison to atone for a third last year.

Sunday she'd won the Super D event in the morning, giving her seven national titles.

"I knew if I came out of the single track at the end and stayed on the gas I'd have her," said Gould, who separated enough to raise her arms the final 50 yards.

Montana's Stephen Ettinger, wheel-to-wheel with defending champion Todd Wells throughout the men's short-track race, pulled away on the shallow horseshoe climb on the final lap and expanded his lead in the mountains to claim the men's short track. The steep ascent better made in a ski lift gave Ettinger just enough room to commandeer the lead.

Both riders said the difference usually comes down to which rider hasn't won a jersey yet during the weekend. Since Wells had won the cross-country event to give him 13 national titles, the homestretch in the short track went to the insatiable Ettinger.

"We were dicing back and forth, we were both going for it," said Wells. "If you miss out on that jersey on Day One, you have some extra motivation. In a race like this when we're tired, it comes down to who wants it more. I wanted it badly, but he wanted it a little more."

Said Ettinger, "I think that Todd and I were in a class of our own this weekend. We were playing games with each other. I got around him on the short track and really solidified it on the climb."

Ettinger earned his second elite title to go with his cross country title last year, which Ettinger said satisfied him to give Wells the edge in the short track last year. The reverse happened here in 2014.

Local riders once again impressed in a national field of America's finest mountain bike riders. The Krasley family from Coplay continued its success.

Mom Karen finished second in the women's master's Super D (7:30.7) and fifth in the cross country (1:32.08). Her three daughters competed with her. Kiley finished third in the junior Super D (9:40.1) and eighth in the junior short track — ages 9-16—in 76 minutes. Courtney Krasley (1:06.17) placed third in the category 3 junior cross country and Corrine took fifth in the Super D junior 9-14 division in 11:27.7and 12th in the junior 9-10 cross country.

The Dorney family from Walnutport also lit up the results sheet at various levels with strong performances by Stephanie, Jacob, Lauren and Camryn.

Easton's Robert Eichlin won the Master 50-54 cross country race and placed third in the Master 50-99 Super D.

Allentown's Andrew Frye won the 30-44 master's division cross country in 1:38.49. Emmaus' Mike Yuzell won the 45-49 division in 1:43.13.

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