By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
There’s still no word from the UCI about where or when its pair of cancelled mountain-bike events — the “triple” in Leysin and the downhill in Arai — will end up, but several strong possibilities have emerged.
The most solid appears to be the oft-mentioned Fort William, in Scotland, which is closing in on a downhill-mountain cross event that will likely be held the weekend of June 1-2, the dates originally occupied by the Leysin event. According to a member of the organizing committee in Scotland, they were preparing for a visit from the UCI during the week of January 21, and were hopeful an announcement would be soon to follow.
“It’s been kind of frustrating with Christmas, plus lots and lots of nifty footwork and meetings,” said the Fort William organizer. “But the UCI are coming out here, so we should be able to get a proper statement out then.”
As for the other opening in the schedule, all indications are that there will be a World Cup in the United States after all. The more likely of two possibilities is that the event will be held in conjunction with the Telluride 360-Degree Adventure Festival, scheduled for July 11-14 in Telluride, Colorado. The event, which is the brainchild of Rick Sutton, the man behind the Sea Otter Classic, was already to include mountain biking, along with a host of other sports.
In addition to the seemingly natural fit in the schedule, putting on a World Cup in Telluride has the firm backing of Hideo Morita, who owns the ski resort.
“Why not? I think it’s important to keep working with mountain biking,” Morita told VeloNews. “The amazing part is that more people mountain bike than ski, so we want to make mountain biking more popular in the world.”
Morita — who also has interests in Formula One auto-racing through his Morita Investments International — is one of mountain biking’s most important patrons. He was the man behind the now-cancelled World Cup in Arai, Japan, and he underwrites the Global Racing team, which finished its inaugural 2001 season ranked as the top downhill team in the world.
A second, but less likely scenario, has the “triple” being held in Lake Placid, New York, site of the 1980 Olympics. This option is being put forth by Gestev, the company behind the Mont-Ste-Anne and Grouse Mountain World Cups in Canada.
The original 2002 World Cup schedule had excluded the United States. It would have been the first time in the 12-year history of series that the World Cup had skipped the U.S.
VeloNews correspondent Andrew Hood contributed to this report