The USA has three slots allotted for elite female racers and one for men at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, and Utah’s Haley Batten has officially earned one of them. This season marks her first elite UCI race calendar, and she’s aiming for the top.
Batten finished in a strong 11th position at the first short track race of the 2021 season in Albstadt, Germany, moving her a few spots forward on the starting grid for the following five-lap XCO race. She wouldn’t waste that forward starting position, finishing just 75 seconds off the wheel of first place Loana Lecomte, with France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot fighting to remain between them. Batten was the fastest American in Germany to finish in third place on the day, just ahead of American Kate Courtney who was already guaranteed a position on the Olympic XCO squad.
The following world cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, saw the young American sliding into the front row of Sunday’s XCO event after a commanding win in the 20-minute short track race on Friday afternoon. The technical Czech mud bath didn’t slow Batten a bit as she finished in second place behind France’s Lecompte with Australian veteran Rebecca McConnell crossing the line just 12 seconds behind.
The third woman to join Batten and Courtney will be selected by the USAC discretionary selection criteria. The U.S. men have a single Olympic position that will be decided by the same parameters, with Christopher Blevins and Keegan Swenson in contention. USAC says that “the final Olympic Team will be announced by USA Cycling on June 10, 2021”.