USA Cycling announced on Monday the 16 riders that will represent the United States at the 2014 Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Barbacena, Brazil on March 27-30.
"I'm looking forward to a strong performance in Brazil from this team," USA Cycling Mountain Bike Program Director Marc Gullickson said. "We have a great mix of new, young talent as well as some established veterans."
Three riders will represent the United States in the elite men's cross country category. Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team), the top-ranked American in the UCI rankings, is the lone automatic nomination to the team. He will be joined by two discretionary nominations: Spencer Paxson (Kona Factory Team) and Michael Broderick (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes).
Broderick's wife and 2004 and 2008 Olympian, Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes), is the second-ranked American woman in the UCI's standings as of March 1, and has earned an automatic nomination to the elite women's cross country team. Joining McConneloug will be a discretionary nomination, Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's - VCGraphix.com).
Representing the United States in the U23 men's category as discretionary nominations are Sepp Kuss (RMCF-Devo) and Payson McElveen (USA U23). Kuss placed third at the 2013 US Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships.
The U23 women's team will be powered by a pair of reigning national champions. Defending U23 national champion Shayna Powless will team with defending junior national champion Kate Courtney (Team Specialized Racing) to form a formidable duo. Both were discretionary nominations to the team.
Neilson Powless (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team), the top-ranked American junior in the UCI rankings, is an automatic nomination to the juniors men's squad. Powless will pair with Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team), bronze medalist in the 2013 junior cross country national championships, to contest the juniors men's race in Brazil.
The United States will send five discretionary selections to contest the downhill categories. Max Morgan, Ray Syron, Ethan Quehl and Cody Johnson will race in the elite men's downhill, while Matthew Branney will don the US national team jersey in the junior men's downhill category.
Competition is slated to begin Thursday, March 27, in Barbacena, Brazil.
US Team for 2014 Pan-American Continental Mountain Bike Championships
Elite men cross country
Stephen Ettinger* (BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team)
Spencer Paxson (Kona Factory Team)
Michael Broderick (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes)
Elite women cross country
Mary McConneloug* (Team Kenda - Stan's NoTubes)
Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's - VCGraphix.com)
U23 men cross country
Sepp Kuss (RMCF-Devo)
Payson McElveen (USA U23)
U23 women cross country
Kate Courtney (Team Specialized Racing)
Junior men cross country
Neilson Powless* (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team)
Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete - Specialized Cycling Team)
Elite men downhill
Junior men downhill
* indicates automatic selection