Waiting game for the Olympic qualifiers
The wait to find out who will represent the US in London isn't over in the wake of the qualifying World Cups
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With the fourth World Cup under their belts, the World Cup racers can find relief in the release of the final numbers of qualifying Olympic slots by country. Nations are not required to accept their allotted slots until the final deadline of June 15, 2012, however, by which time the final US Olympic team will be announced.
National Olympic Committees have until that time to test the Olympic hopefuls and be sure that they maintain their fitness. Those who believe they had a qualifying season are now play the waiting game in anticipation of the release of the London picks.
A top-5 finish in a World Cup is a great way to earn yourself a slot on the team. Luna rider Georgia Gould’s fourth place in Nove Mesto na Morave should secure her a slot. Add a sixth place in La Bresse plus her 8th place in the 2008 Olympics and she is easily the most qualified of the US candidates of both men and women.
Lea Davison (Specialized Racing) claims the second highest World Cup ranking among the US women. She clocked the fastest time in the season’s first World Cup, finishing 14th, with Heather Irmiger (Subaru – Trek) close behind. Both women had great races in the 2011 world championships, in 10th and 11th, respectively. Irmiger is trailing Davison notably in points at the moment, however, with two-time Olympian Mary McConneloug in close pursuit. Davison also had two top-10 World Cup finishes in 2011, making her the apparent favorite.
The US men also have two slots to fill, but their future is less certain. Apparent overwhelming favorite at the start of the season, Todd Wells, has not been up to the form he exhibited last season, which included seventh at the world championships. After a crash in training before the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, Wells has had a slow start to the season, with his best World Cup result a 32nd in Nove Mesto na Morave. Wells may nonetheless be the best candidate to get the highest US result, but a medal seems unlikely.
When choosing discretionary nominations, the likelihood of medaling in future Olympics is a consideration that carries substantial weight. Given that fact, young bucks like Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) and Stephen Ettinger (BMC) might get the nod over the seasoned veterans, in order to begin to groom them for future Olympics. Schultz currently sits in 31st in the World Cup, the highest US men’s standing.
Now, like the long team members contending for Olympic slots, the fans are resigned to making predictions and playing the waiting game until the final US team is released.
The women are scheduled to race at Hadleigh Farm in Essex on August 11, 2012, followed by the men the following day at the same venue.
Learn more about Olympic team selection >>