USA Cycling splits gravity and cross country mountain bike nationals

Mary McConneloug in the short track at US Nationals

Mary McConneloug in the short track at US Nationals (Image credit: Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick)

USA Cycling is splitting the cross country and gravity portions of its mountain bike national championships into two separate events beginning in 2011. USA Cycling announced on Wednesday that Sun Valley, Idaho, will host the USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike National Championships for the next two years on July 14-17, 2011 and July 12-15, 2012. A location for the downhill, four cross and dual slalom contests has yet to be determined.

USA Cycling said splitting the nationals for the disciplines would help it better meet the needs of endurance and gravity athletes alike.

In its first two years at its very own venue, the 2011 and 2012 cross country nationals will be organized by Breakaway Promotions and will include the Olympic-style cross country, short track cross country, and Super D competitions.

"We made the decision to split the disciplines based on member feedback from all types of mountain bikers," said USA Cycling National Events Director Kelli Lusk. "This will allow both gravity and cross country athletes to compete on an ideal course in a setting specifically designed for their needs."

All categories of racers will duke it out on the trails of Sun Valley for Stars-and-Stripes jerseys during the UCI-mandated dates of July 14-17, 2011.

"I have travelled the world and the US for races, and I live in the Sun Valley area of Idaho because it has some of the best trails I've ever ridden as well as a welcoming cycling community," said three-time 24-Hour Mountain Bike World Champion Rebecca Rusch. "I already know this place is world-class and I'm really looking forward to sharing what Idaho has to offer with the best cyclists in the US."

The Sun Valley Ski Resort in Idaho will act as the host venue for both the 2011 and 2012 event.

"The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau and the communities of Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho provided a very detailed bid and a clear commitment to host the 2011 and 2012 events," said Lusk. "The combination of an experienced race director, along with the event and marketing knowledge of the Sun Valley Resort and CVB staff, were key to the success of this bid."

"We worked closely with Breakaway Promotions and Metric Marketing Group and spent hundreds of hours to formulate the successful bid," said Carrie Westergard from the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau. "We are thrilled with the news and are ready to showcase our area's great riding and the strong mountain bike community."

"Breakaway Promotions is honored to be selected as the race organizer for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships in Sun Valley. We will create a course and competitive experience that will make this event memorable for every rider," said Race Director Chad Sperry.

More information about the 2011 USA Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike National Championships will be announced in coming months.

For the past two years, cross country and downhill nationals were held in Granby, Colorado.

Canada, which has for the past few years held separate gravity and cross country nationals, is taking the opposite approach for 2011.  Canadian Cycling Federation officials mentioned to Cyclingnews at the Mountain Bike World Championships that it would be re-combining the disciplines into one national championship event for 2011.

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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.