Downhill event set for today

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Cycling: Punishment abbreviated for 2012 due to fire

By Mike Cote

Despite last year’s Las Conchas Fire, the 2012 Pajarito Punishment will go on, although not as thoroughly as it has in years past.
The Pajarito Punishment downhill event is scheduled for this morning at Pajarito Mountain. The downhill event is scheduled to start around 11 a.m.
The race has been a mainstay at Pajarito Mountain, but because much of the course was effected by the fire, along with the ongoing restoration efforts, the cross-country portion of the Punishment will be shelved for this year.
Despite the cross-country race missing this year, Neal Pederson, one of the coordinators of the event, said downhill pre-registration had been brisk.
“We’re doing really good this year compared to previous years,” Pederson said. “Last year, we had 28 total people signed up total. It was one of our smallest races.”
Heading into Saturday’s on-site registration, about 30 racers had already signed up for the downhill race. Organizers were projecting between 50-60 participants showing up today.
Competitors had the chance to do a practice run on the downhill course during Saturday’s SummerFest on the mountain.
In 2011, Jason Memmelaar of Chester, N.Y., topped 2010 Pajarito Punishment downhill champ Chris Heath of Denver, to claim the title. Memmelaar’s posted the two best downhill runs in the event, including finishing in 3 minutes, 6.7 seconds, more than 5-1/2 seconds better than the next-best run in the men’s pro category.
Los Alamos’ Michelle Pederson posted the two best downhill times in the women’s competition last year. She posted a time of 5:04.5 on her first run to win.
The Pajarito Punishment is the first race of the Southwest Gravity Series 2012 circuit of races.