By Sue George
USA Cycling's National Mountain Bike Development Director Matt Cramer announced last week that he is leaving his post. For nearly the past five years, Cramer has filled a range of responsibilities including developing the US national team's under 23 mountain bikers through working with elite athletes on US Olympic Team selections. He'll move on to a new position with the US Olympic Committee (USOC).
Of his job at USA Cycling, Cramer said to Cyclingnews, "It was multi-faceted. Just dealing with all the aspects of mountain biking as it pertained to athlete programs from the grassroots through the elite levels. I managed the U23 development team as well as the dissemination of information from USA Cycling to all athletes including information pertaining to selection [to teams] for the Worlds and Olympics."
Although Cramer was involved in developing and publicizing the selection criteria for the 2008 Olympics, he said, "I don't think my departure will change the selection process. That has been solidified for some time and will remain as it." He said he did not know who would replace him in overseeing it, but indicated the replacement process is already underway.
"I will miss the relationships that I've developed over the years with teams, athletes, and USA Cycling," said Cramer. "There are no negative reasons why I'm leaving; it's all professional development. I'll miss everyone." Prior to his current position, he worked as a resident coach and on contract projects since 1999.
Cramer has seen the rise of many upcoming and elite athletes in the national and international rankings. "From the development side, a lot of the riders that have come through the U23 program are still in the program or have graduated to pro teams. Nick Waite went to Kelly Benefits and John Devine went to Discovery for a short amount of time. Sam Schultz left a year early to ride for Subaru / Gary Fisher. They all took the steps we'd hoped." And they could be the Olympians of the future.
"On the elite level, all of our top guys have been making gains: Adam Craig, Jeremy Horgan Kobelski, Todd Wells and Jeremiah Bishop. They've been on a very steady, healthy upward trend." All four will be vying for spots on the US Olympic team in 2008.
On the women's side, Cramer remarked on the growth of Georgia Gould as a racer. "Following behind her are Mary McConneloug, Heather Irminger, Willow Koerber, and Sue Haywood. Look out for Chloe Forsman. She's gone from top level junior to being a top-level international U23 rider and competitive on the domestic circuit. She rides side by side with her Luna team-mates [Gould, Katerina Nash and Shonny Vanlandingham]." Forsman recently defended her US National Collegiate Mountain Bike title and is the reigning Under 23 champion. Cramer also named Jeanna Xander as young American rider to watch.
In his new position as Manager of Sport Partnerships for the USOC, Cramer will manage a portfolio of sports including rowing, canoeing/kayaking, volleyball, baseball, equestrian, fencing, modern pentathlon, skiing and snowboarding to name a few. He will also be involved in water skiing and racketball, which are not Olympic sports, but are in the Pan American Games.
"I'll be working with twelve sports instead of one," Cramer told Cyclingnews. "I will work with a team of four people. I'll deal with resource and funding allocation for the sports and with National Governing Body (NGB) development. I'll deal with the sports from the NGB level through the USOC level."
Despite leaving USA Cycling, Cramer said, "There is a good possibility that I will be going to Beijing, and I may also go to Vancouver because I have winter sports in my portfolio, too."
Cramer, who's new work has no involvement with any aspect of cycling, plans to remain involved as an avid fan.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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