The most talented and selective field of the year will be competing on the Olympic mountain bike course at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.
The 30 women selected to represent their respective countries will compete on August 11, 2012. The men compete the following day at the Essex venue and will have a 50-rider field.
National ranking determined the number of slots available to each eligible country. Once the number of available slots is announced for each nation, it is up to the country’s established selection system to decide which athletes to send.
In general, a limited number of high results in World Cup and other international competition will trump high points alone. Some countries will opt to send young talents with future medal potential to develop their talent for the future in stead of a more experienced athlete that will likely have the highest result outside of medal potential. Other times, the seasoned athletes who are accustomed to the pressure and crowds of the Olympics will be chosen over talented rookies.
The Swiss led the men’s national standings, which qualified Switzerland for three Olympic slots. All three of the Swiss team members are ranked in the top-15 at the end of the 2012 World Cup, including 2008 bronze medalist Nino Schurter, who leads the individual standings.
South African Burry Stander follows Schurter in the World Cup standings, with Jaroslav Kulhavy behind him.
The U.S. and Canada each qualified for two men’s Olympic slots, with a ranking of ninth and 11th, respectively. The only North American to finish in the top-20 in the World Cup was Max Plaxton, in 17th.
The North American women are dominant, though, with Canada the top-ranked nation, boasting World Cup winner Catharine Pendrel. The United States is ranked fifth, behind Switzerland, France and Poland. All of the U.S. Olympic team is ranked in the top-15 of the World Cup, with U.S. rider Georgia Gould in fifth, followed by Canadian Emily Batty in sixth. All three women have stood on the World Cup podium this season. Lea Davison will also represent the United States and is ranked 13th in the World Cup.
One prominent name from the season will be absent at the Games. Maja Wloszczowska won the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, but pulled out due to injury. Paula Gorycka is taking her place on the Polish Olympic team.
Number of American cross-country medals, won by Susan DeMattei in 1996
Maximum number of gold medals won by a single rider. French Julien Absalon and Italian Paola Pezzo have both accomplished this feat. Absalon will be competing again this year.
Maximum number of qualifiers from any single nation. Switzerland led the national ranking for the men at the time that national slots were awarded and sent three riders, along with four other countries.
The most World Cup wins by a single rider in 2012. World Cup winners Catharine Pendrel and Nino Schurter both took four wins this season
Number of times cross-country mountain biking has been in the Olympics: 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
The number of women who will race the cross-country race at Hadleigh Farm
The size of the men’s field
Meters of elevation gain each lap of the course
Acres of woodland and grassland owned by the Salvation Army at the Hadleigh Farm venue
Number of spectators at the sold-out cross-country test event at Hadleigh Farm
Stay tuned for more previews of the course, the tech and the riders as the day approaches
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