By Steve Medcroft
U.S. national cyclocross champion Katie Compton's approach to 'cross is unique for the fact that in the past two years in a row, she's come out of Colorado for only one major 'cross race a year; and won a national championship jersey both times. As most people who've followed her story know, Compton avoids UCI competition to retain eligibility for Paralympics, where she acts as the pilot to a blind stoker in a track-tandem duo. Due to a recent clarification in Paralympics eligibility rules though, the elite Carmichael Training Systems coach says she'll be taking things differently next season.
"After not going to world's again and everyone questioning the whole UCI points thing, I talked to the head of U.S. Paralympics," Compton said. The issue of where athletes like Compton could compete and still be eligible for Paralympics was brought before the International Paralympics Committee. Compton says she wasn't the only athlete that needed clarification. "I know that they had an issue with an Australian (tandem) pilot. She was doing higher-level events and it raised the question openly of what we can actually do and still be eligible for Paralympics."
"The committee clarified the rule for me," Compton said. "I can actually race UCI races and I will be able to compete for UCI points next season. I just can't go to Worlds or race for my country in any international competition."
The answer opens up the entire cyclocross calendar to Compton. But will it change her racing schedule? "There's a UCI race in Boulder next year; I'll probably do that. Chances are I won't travel to any races though; I can still get better training staying at home and resting rather than fly everywhere. But," she adds, "you never know. Next season is a long way off."
Beyond 2006/2007, Compton says she remains focused on the 2008 Paralympics but after says, "as long as I'm healthy and still riding well, I want to switch to 'cross full time."
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews in the next few days for a complete interview with the 2004/2005 U.S. cyclocross national champion.