Downhill mountain biking in the Olympics?


Don’t get your hopes up, at least that’s what a USA Today article leads us to believe. Cross-country mountain biking was added as an official Olympic event just 12 years ago, almost 20 years after the sport itself was invented. Of course you could argue that the original mountain bikers who clunked down Mount Tam were more interested in downhill than cross country riding but that’s another story…

This year’s Olympic games will include BMX for the first time and some big name downhill mountain bikers are crossing over to BMX for the competition. It’s tough for me to imagine that BMX will stay an Olympic event while dowhill mountain biking is excluded but only time will tell. The USA Today writer argues that finding or building a suitable downhill course could be impractical for some Olympic cities but that doesn’t stop the whitewater kayaking event from happening, does it? At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games the whitewater events were held in Tennessee of all places, a 2+ hour drive from Atlanta!

Anyway, this article ties together a couple themes from this week’s singletracks blog nicely. First, it’s interesting to note that people are complaining about the site for the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course outside London as being too flat – at least they’re not trying to find a spot for the downhill event! Apparently even siting a cross country mountain bike course for the Olympics can be difficult enough as it is.
I also came across an interesting fact about the 1996 Olympic mountain bike race results. The winner, Brent Brentjens of the Netherlands, averaged 13mph over the approx. 30 mile course – not much faster than the 10mph I said was a “fast mountain bike ride” (well, ok, 30% faster but still). If you’ve ever ridden the Atlanta Olympic MTB course out at Conyers you know this is an intense course with some serious climbs – a single lap is enough for most riders and very few will average close to 10mph.

I don’t know what the process is for adding a new event to Olympic competition but it seems like downhill mountain biking should at least be considered. Downhill mountain bikers are serious athletes who deserve the chance to compete in the Olympics – let’s see what we can do to help…