When USA Cycling
announced their official 2013 Worlds Team selection
, Mountain Bike Action
questioned the logic of sending Michael Broderick as the federation's discretionary selection. Understand, Michael is an outstanding athlete who we have admired for years, but his selection to the Worlds Team doesn't make sense to us. Michael is 40 years old, has finished 60th and 68th in the last two Worlds and placed 8th at our 2013 National Championships. It was our feeling that a number of deserving riders where denied.
We asked USA Cycling to explain their decision and their answer will probably shock you as much as it did us. It turns out that Michael got his spot on Team USA because he is better at doing federation paperwork than the other riders.
Mountain Bike Action:
What is USA Cycling's logic behind picking Michael Broderick for the Worlds team?
The USA Cycling MTB World Championship team selection is based on criteria published in our USA Cycling World Team Selection Document which is posted on our site months before the team is announced. During the selection process, we first determine who has qualified via the automatic selection criteria; and, after the automatic qualifiers are identified, we then analyze results and rankings of those athletes who have submitted athlete nomination petitions for a spot on the world championship team. All riders who have an interest in racing the World Championships but did not meet the automatic criteria can submit an Athlete Nomination Petition and thus will be considered for selection to the team. If athletes don't submit a petition then, per our published criteria, they will not be considered for nomination to the team. This has been the same procedure we have used for years so it should be no surprise to any of the elite riders that if they don't petition they won't be named to the team.
Mountain Bike Action:
Why didn't USA Cycling pick a young rider who may not get a great result this year, but would gain experience for the future? Like Alex Grant or Colin Cares?
We did not nominate any athletes that were not Automatic Qualifiers or whom did not submit Athlete Nominations.
Mountain Bike Action:
Was Jeremiah Bishop passed over for the team because of the conflict between USA Cycling and his team, Sho-Air/Cannondale?
Jeremiah Bishop did not meet any of the automatic criteria and he did not submit an athlete nomination petition to be considered for a discretionary spot.
While these answers clarify the selection process, they point towards a deeper issue. We feel that USA Cycling's answers portray an organization that is either apathetic towards mountain biking or so overworked that it doesn't have time to interact with our sport's most elite athletes. If we were in the position of a USA Cycling mountain bike coach with the deadline for athlete nomination petitions looming and Michael Broderick at the top of the applicants, we would not wash our hands of the selection process by blaming the athletes for not filing proper paperwork. We would be contacting riders like Sam Schultz (unfortunately on the disabled list right now), Jeremiah Bishop (3rd at Nationals), Spencer Paxson (4th at
Nationals and 29 years old), Alex Grant (5th at Nationals and 33 years
old) and the young charger Colin Cares (6th at Nationals and 26 years
old) to find out why they didn't file and if there was anything we could do to encourage them to file.
Jim "Jimmy Mac" McIlvain
Mountain Bike Action Magazine
A RIDER'S VIEWPOINT
We asked Jeremiah Bishop, who we feel is a logical choice for the Worlds Team, about the situation.
Sorry Jeremiah, training hard and giving 100% doesn't count if you don't file the paperwork.
"The vision of USA Cycling is to make the United States of America the most successful country in the world of competitive cycling. Mountain biking? That might be another story. I will never forget Steve Johnson's comment to me while on the back of re-purposed farm truck taking just the two of us to the opening ceremony for the Pan Am Games in the Dominican Republic. When I talked about things we need to work on, he said, 'mountain biking is dead.' Well, that was a tough one to get out of my head but I won the Gold medal helping secure major USOC [United States Olympic Committee] funding for USAC. This gave me a little perspective as to the challenges our sport face when road is the top priority.
"When USAC needed me for UCI points or attendance at previous World Championships, Pan American Games, or Pan Am Championships, I was there. Sometimes they would ask; sometimes I would petition. I delivered the best performance representing Team USA no less than on six occasions including a top ten at Worlds, two Pan American medals and Gold and Bronze medals in the Pan American Games.
"The real travesty here is not my selection but that under USAC's watch the world rank of Team USA's mountain bike program is sliding rapidly towards the point where the US will not qualify for two spots in the Olympics. Teams outside the top 15 have only one spot! Nor has USAC actively managed for the growth of the sport through the ranks by being positive and inclusive with its policy.
"Hardly any US riders have been going to the World Cups and there has been little support or encouragement to do so. No US riders competed in the Andora Cross-Country World Cup and it gets worse. Right now we are behind Israel and Ukraine in the standings.
If USAC cared about the best possible TEAM performance at Worlds, they would ask me to be there. That's the bottom line."
We have the utmost respect for Michael Broderick
(right) here with his sponsor, Stan Koziatek of Stan's NoTubes
fame. We would love to see Michael become involved with Team USA management. His experience fighting it out in the trenches would bring new life to a declining program.