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A round during the elite women's eliminator finals featuring Lea Davison (United States) and other riders
Downhill racing not being considered for Olympic Games
The Olympic Games may get another mountain bike event: the relatively new discipline of eliminator racing. The UCI Management Committee recently expressed its support for a proposal to be made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Following a meeting at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross Championships this weekend, the UCI will request the addition of eliminator events for both men and women, effective for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"The proposal was made bearing in mind [that the] IOC does like new disciplines, especially if they have a modern and intense format like eliminator," said Peter Van den Abeele of the UCI to Cyclingnews.
Eliminator is like a four cross event with a format of qualifying and multiple rounds concluding in a big and small final, but they are run on flatter courses and are typically raced cross country racers although gravity racers do sometimes compete, too. Each heat lasts one to three minutes and rewards those with good speed and sprinting skills.
The IOC could add an event like the eliminator because it would be a second event for athletes already attending the Olympic Games to race, and it would not have to add to the total number of athletes at the Olympic games or juggle quotas from existing sports. Those already going to compete in the cross country could double up for a second chance at gold if they also raced the eliminator.
Eliminators have happened in conjunction with some cross country World Cups for the past two years although they have not yet counted toward a World Cup standing. The first eliminator world championship was held in 2012 at the Worlds in Saalfelden, Austria.
At present there are no gravity mountain bike disciplines in the Olympic Games, and at times in the past, some downhill fans have called for the addition of downhill racing to the Olympic programme, often arguing that the discipline could boast much of the sport of mountain biking's growth.
When asked about the possibility of including downhill in the Olympics, Van den Abeele said, "Downhill was never an option, because it would be hard to organize such a competition in an Olympic city like Rio or Tokyo, Madrid or Istambul." He also noted that the IOC is not ready to increase athlete quotas, another obstacle.
So what happens next for eliminator racing to try to get into the Olympics? "The process to get Olympic status for a discipline is very easy: all International Federations are requested to express their wishes, and the Executive Board of IOC will decide on the new programme."
In the meantime, eliminator fans and Olympic hopefuls will have to wait and see what the IOC decides.
At the same Management Committee meeting, the UCI also expressed support for adding an Olympic points race and a BMX freestyle event.