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American team named for mountain bike world championships

USA Cycling announced the 25-member cross-country and 16-member downhill teams to compete at the 2014 UCI mountain bike world championships, which will run Sept. 2-7 in Hafjell, Norway.


Five elite men received invitations. Two were automatically selected — Stephen Ettinger (BMC) and Todd Wells (Specialized) — and discretionary selections were given to Russell Finsterwald (SRAM-Troy Lee Designs), Spencer Paxson (Kona), and Kerry Werner (BMC).

Ettinger’s 28th-place UCI world ranking and 12th-place result at the World Cup in Cairns, Australia, were enough for an automatic bid, while Wells’ win at the national championships and his top ranking in the pro mountain bike cross-country tour (XCT) final standings clinched a slot on the team.

Lea Davison (Specialized), Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes-VCGraphix.com) and Georgia Gould (LUNA) lead a strong group of elite women to the world championships with automatic invitations. Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com), Mary McConneloug (KENDA-Stan’s NoTubes), and Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) impressed in 2014, earning discretionary bids to compete at the event.

Davison rides her national championships win, as well as her 29th-place UCI ranking, into Norway, where she will be joined by Huck, who finished second in the Pro XCT standings, and Gould, who is ranked 30th in the UCI standings.

Howard Grotts (Specialized) and Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) earned U23 men’s automatic invitations, while Sepp Kuss (RMCF-Devo) and Casey Williams (Whole Athlete-Specialized) rounded out the group with discretionary selections.

Grotts’ nod came on the heels of his Missoula cross-country win and third-place result at the World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, while Swenson punched his ticket with his U23 national championships win and 10th-place effort at the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

On the women’s side, Kate Courtney earned the lone U23 automatic selection, and Kaylee Blevins (Bear Development Team) and Shayna Powless earned discretionary picks.

Courtney’s bid came after winning U23 national championships, recording a fourth-place finish at the Cairns World Cup, a ninth-place result at the World Cup in the Czech Republic, and a 10th-place finish in the Albstadt World Cup.

Three junior men picked up automatic spots on the team. Neilson Powless (Whole Athlete-Specialized), Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete-Specialized), and Landen Beckner used World Cup success to earn roster spots. The three automatic bids were joined by discretionary selections Carson Beckett (Wood-N-Wave) and Garrett Gerchar (Boulder Junior Cycling-Tokyo Joe’s).

Ksenia Lepikhina earned the lone junior women’s automatic roster spot, and Shea Chavez took the category’s only discretionary spot.


Seven men were selected in the elite division, with Aaron Gwin (Specialized), Neko Mulally (Trek World Cycling), and Kevin Aiello (KHS Bicycles) receiving automatic selections. Logan Binggeli (KHS Bicycles), Eliot Jackson, Kiran MacKinnon, and Max Morgan earned discretionary selections.

Gwin received the automatic nod after winning national championships, taking top-five finishes at the season’s first three World Cups, and for his second-place ranking in the UCI World Cup. Mulally’s automatic selection came after placing third in Cairns and for his ninth-place World Cup ranking. Aiello’s lead in the pro mountain bike gravity tour (GRT) earned him his automatic selection.

Jill Kintner (Norco) and Alison Zimmer (Gravity Racing-Xprezo) are the lone U.S. elite women’s selections for world championships.

Kintner earned her automatic bid after winning national championships, placing third in Pietermaritzburg, taking fifth at the third World Cup and ranking sixth in the World Cup. Zimmer’s automatic bid came from her first-place ranking in the GRT.

Three junior men took automatic bids to world championships, Luca Shaw (SRAM-Troy Lee Designs), Shane Leslie, and Chase Nelson (Trek Southridge). Charlie Harrison and Matt Branney were granted discretionary selections.

Junior national champion Michelle Pederson (Bike n Sport) and Taylor Allison will represent the U.S. in the junior women’s downhill at worlds.


Elite Men
*Stephen Ettinger, Bozeman, Montana (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
*Todd Wells, Durango, Colorado (Specialized Factory Racing)
Russell Finsterwald, Colorado Springs, Colorado (SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Race Team)
Spencer Paxson, Bellingham, Washington (Kona Factory Team)
Kerry Werner, Banner Elk, North Carolina (BMC Project Dirt p/b KMC)

Elite Women
*Lea Davison, Jericho, Vermont (Specialized Factory Racing)
*Erin Huck, Boulder, Colorado (Tokyo Joes-VCGraphix.com)
*Georgia Gould, Fort Collins, Colorado (LUNA Pro Team)
Evelyn Dong, Park City, Utah (Backcountry.com)
Mary McConneloug, Chilmark, Massachusetts (Team KENDA-Stan’s NoTubes)
Chloe Woodruff, Tucson, Arizona (Backcountry.com)

U23 Men
*Howard Grotts, Durango, Colorado (Specialized Racing XC)
*Keegan Swenson, Park City, Utah (Cannondale Factory Racing)
Sepp Kuss, Durango, Colorado (RMCF-Devo)
Casey Williams, (Big Bear City, California (Whole Athlete-Specialized Cycling Team)

U23 Women
*Kate Courtney, Kentfield, California
Kaylee Blevins, Durango, Colorado (Bear Development Team)
Shayna Powless, Roseville, California

Junior Men
*Neilson Powless, Roseville, California (Whole Athlete-Specialized)
*Sean Bennett, El Cerrito, California (Whole Athlete-Specialized)
*Landen Beckner, Helena, Montana
Carson Beckett, Benton, Kentucky (Wood-N-Wave)
Garrett Gerchar, Boulder, Colorado (Boulder Junior Cycling-Tokyo Joe’s Jr.)

Junior Women
*Ksenia Lepikhina, Boulder, Colorado
Shea Chavez, Flagstaff, Arizona


Elite Men
*Aaron Gwin, Wildomar, California (Factory Specialized)
*Neko Mulally, Pisgah Forest, North Carolina (Trek World Cycling)
*Kevin Aiello, Rancho Santa Margarita, California (KHS Bicycles)
Logan Binggeli, Saint George, Utah (KHS Bicycles)
Eliot Jackson, Westlake Village, California
Kiran MacKinnon, Santa Cruz, California
Max Morgan, Duluth, Georgia

Elite Women
*Jill Kintner, Seattle, Washington (Team Norco Intl.)
*Alison Zimmer, Lincoln, Vermont (VT/Gravity Racing-Xprezo)

Junior Men
*Luca Shaw, Hendersonville, North Carolina (SRAM-Troy Lee Designs)
*Shane Leslie, Birmingham, Michigan
*Chase Nelson, Littleton, Colorado (Trek Southridge Racing)
Matt Branney, Littleton, Colorado
Charlie Harrison, Trabuco Canyon, California

Junior Women
*Michelle Pederson, Los Alamos, New Mexico (Bike n Sport Racing)
Taylor Allison, Woodstock, New York

* Denotes automatic selections

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