2012 Olympic Long Team

USA Cycling has nominated eight men and nine women for the Olympic mountain bike long team

USA Cycling (USAC) has nominated eight men and nine women for the Olympic mountain bike long team. The riders, announced Thursday morning, are those eligible to ride for the US in the London Olympics.

“The athletes on this list have either proven their capabilities to win medals in major international events or illustrated the potential to do so in the future,” said USA Cycling’s vice president of athletics, Jim Miller.

Automatic nominations go to riders who had noteworthy placing in the 2011 world championships, World Cup races or USA Cycling’s 2011 Pro Cross-Country Tour (Pro XCT). Those ranked in the top 60 of the UCI individual world rankings could also automatically consider themselves part of the team.

Discretionary criteria opened the door for nominations for riders who did not meet the above criteria, but that USAC considers able to compete at a high level internationally.

“The hard work and determination of these athletes has helped USA Cycling advance its vision of making the U.S. the most successful country in the world of competitive cycling,” continued Miller. “They are evidence of the United States’ ability to be a legitimate medal contender across all four disciplines of competitive cycling in London.”

Automatic nominations

Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Cannondale) was nominated for finishing inside the top 60 of the UCI individual world rankings.

Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Rabobank-Giant), 2008 mountain bike Olympian, finished inside the top 60 of the UCI individual world rankings.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek), 2004 mountain bike Olympian, finished inside the top 60 of the UCI individual world rankings.

Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont./Subaru-Trek), 26, is the youngest automatic nominee for his third place finish in the Pro XCT.

Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized), 2008 mountain bike Olympian, was nominated for a seventh place at the 2011 world championships and 10th in the first 2011 World Cup.

Discretionary nominations

Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes)

Stephen Ettinger (Cashmere, Wash./BMC)

Spencer Paxson (Seattle, Wash./Kona)

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Automatic nominations

Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Rabobank) earned her spot from a top-50 UCI international ranking.

Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized) received an automatic nomination for top 10 finishes at the 2011 world championships, the sixth and seventh World Cups and for winning USAC Pro XCT in 2011.

Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna), 2008 mountain bike Olympian, secured an automatic nomination with a fifth-place finish at the fifth 2011 UCI World Cup and second in the 2011 Pro XCT.

Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek) claimed a spot by finishing the year ranked 24th internationally.

Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, Calif./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), 2004 and 2008 mountain bike Olympian, earned an automatic nomination based on a top-50 international ranking.

Discretionary nominations

Judy Freeman (Brighton, Colo./Kenda-Felt)

Krista Park (Madison, S.D./Cannondale-No Tubes)

Willow Rockwell (Durango, Colo./Trek World Racing)

Chloe Woodruff (Tucson, Ariz./BMC)

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In 2008, Adam Craig, Todd Wells, Georgia Gould and Mary McConneloug rode in red, white and blue. The cast of characters for 2012 may include some of these familiar faces, but the battle to qualify for the team has barely begun.

On June 15, 2012, USAC will nominate a maximum of two women and three men to represent the US in London for cross country. The few athletes will be chosen based on their international results during the Olympic team qualification period.  Selection for the final Olympic team is based on a number of qualifiers.

“There are two schools of thought,” Georgia Gould told, in reference to the discretionary aspect of Olympic qualification. “Some of us feel that those who have put in the hard work and been fighting and getting results for a long time should take precedence in selection, and not always the one who is just the fastest.”

A top-five finish in the world championships is the quickest way to earn a place on the team. This September, the best results at the worlds in Champery, Switzerland, came from Wells, who came in seventh, and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelsky, who placed 12th. In the women’s race, Lea Davidson and Heather Irmiger came in side by side in 10th and 11th, followed by McConneloug in 15th and Gould in 20th.

Since no Americans placed in the top five in the world championships this September, the second best way to become an Olympian is to win a cross-country World Cup event between January 1 and May 22, 2012. Should excessive numbers of Americans fill that role, World Cup ranking will separate the Olympians from, well, everybody else.

A top-five finish during that same time frame could also lead to a nomination. Again, World Cup ranking will determine the final selection if multiple riders meet the above criteria.

Qualification for the team allows athletes no room for sitting on their laurels, however, and those who fail to maintain their form may be replaced.

There remain a few options for turning heads if the above qualifiers have failed to fill the team. If the US has riders in the top 15 of the World Cup as of May 31, 2012, the top ranked American could be chosen.

Should Americans meet none of the above criteria, USA Cycling may judge the most eligible Americans based on a rider’s likelihood of winning a medal in this or future games, or based on outstanding international competition in recent history.

The women are scheduled to race at Hadleigh Farm in Essex on August 11, 2012, followed by the men the following day at the same venue.