US nominations for MTB worlds

USA Cycling has announced automatic qualifiers for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in...

USA Cycling has announced automatic qualifiers for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Livigno, Italy August 31 to September 4. Twenty-five riders in several disciplines and categories made the initial cut to represent the United States at the annual world-class championship event while further discretionary selections will be announced on August 5.

Earning automatic selections for the elite men’s cross country event are Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.). Craig earned his nomination with several top-ten finishes in UCI World Cup events this season including a pair of fourth-place finishes at the stops in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec and Balneario Camboriu, Brazil earlier this summer. Horgan-Kobelski, the reigning U.S. National Champion, qualified as the top American in the latest Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series standings. Horgan-Kobelski currently sits in second behind Canadian Geoff Kabush.

Six elite women cross country riders also got the nod as Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) met the automatic selection criteria.

McConneloug’s consistency at world cup events in which she rode to three top-five finishes solidified her spot on the team. With fifth-place efforts in Houffalize, Belgium, Willengen, Germany and Mont-Sainte-Anne, McConneloug is currently ranked fifth in the overall world cup standings and has the most international experience this year amongst the nominees.

Koerber, Vanlandingham, and Dunlap all share top-five finishes in world cups as well as Koerber and Vanlandingham earned fourth-place finishes in the Mont-Sainte-Anne and Angel Fire, N.M. world cups respectively. Dunlap’s fifth-place ride in Angel Fire proves the two-time Olympian and 2001 World Champion still has the talent in the final year of her storied career as a professional cyclist.

Emmett is ranked 10th in the overall UCI World Cup standings, thus earning an invitation to Italy while Haywood earned her spot as the current leader of the Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series.

In the U23 ranks, brothers Sam and Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.) and Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.) have been officially selected for the world championships based on top-30 finishes amongst the professional field at world cup events. Sam Schultz placed 17th at the world cup in Angel Fire while Waite and Andy Schultz placed 26th and 28th respectively.

Colin Cares (Boulder, Colo.) earned the sole automatic nomination in the junior men’s cross country category as the points leader in the NORBA national series thanks to three wins on the circuit already this year.

Danae York (Indio, Calif.) and Chloe Forsman (Boulder, Colo.) will represent the junior women’s cross country category as each rider automatically qualified. York’s lead in the NORBA series landed her the nomination while Forsman swept the last three world championship selection events in Deer Valley, Utah, Sandpoint, Idaho and Aspen, Colo.

A talented crop of 11 gravity riders also qualified for the world championships including several medal hopefuls.

In the elite men’s four-cross category, Brian Lopes (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), Robin Baloochi (San Diego, Calif.), Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.) and Rich Houseman (Temecula, Calif.) all earned automatic nominations. Lopes has pieced together an impressive season this far with world cup victories in Schladming, Austria and Angel Fire and a fourth-place finish at the world cup opener in Vigo, Spain. Currently, Lopes leads the overall world cup standings with just two rounds remaining.

With a world championship medal already to his credit with a third-place effort in the junior men’s downhill last year in Les Gets, France, Strait earned a nomination as one of the top-three Americans in the world cup rankings along with Baloochi.

Warren and Houseman are the top-two Americans in the overall NORBA national series standings and therefore earned bids to worlds.

After a season plagued with injury and despite not meeting any of USA Cycling’s automatic qualification criteria, Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) also earns an invitation under a UCI special provision as the defending elite men’s 4-cross world champion.

The elite women’s four-cross pool is also filled with potential medalists as Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.), Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) will head to Italy. Kintner and Llanes both medaled at last year’s world championships with a silver and bronze respectively and are both enjoying successful seasons in 2005. Kintner’s two world cup wins in Vigo and Mont-Sainte-Anne confirmed her spot on this year’s squad while Llanes rode to a fourth place finish in Angel Fire to make the team.

With two second place performances on the NORBA circuit this season in Deer Valley and Sandpoint, Buhl is the leader of the overall NORBA series standings.

Cody Warren also automatically qualified to ride the elite men’s downhill event as the top American in the NORBA series standings in fifth place. Warren is also the only gravity rider to earn an automatic nomination to both the 4-cross and downhill events.

The elite women’s downhill will feature Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) who automatically qualified with two top-five world cup performances, placing third in Vigo and fifth in Angel Fire.

Finally, Travis Bond (Chattanooga, Tenn.) completes the list of automatic qualifiers in the junior men’s downhill category. Bond is the current leader in the NORBA series standings.

The final U.S. squad for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will be announced on August 5.

U.S. Automatic Nominations:

    Elite Men Cross Country: Adam Craig (Bend, Ore), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.).
    Elite Women Cross Country: Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Susan Haywood (Davis, W. Va.).
    U23 Men Cross Country: Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont.), Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.), Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.).
    Junior Men Cross Country: Colin Cares (Boulder, Colo.).
    Junior Women Cross Country: Danae York (Indio, Calif.), Chloe Forsman (Boulder, Colo.).
    Elite Men Downhill: Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.).
    Elite Women Downhill: Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.).
    Junior Men Downhill: Travis Bond (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
    Elite Men 4-Cross: Brian Lopes (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), Robin Baloochi (San Diego, Calif.), Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.), Rich Houseman (Temecula, Calif.).
    Elite Women 4-Cross: Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.), Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.).
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