June 11, 2008 – On June 9, the CCA announced their final selections for the team to represent Canada at the 2008 MTB Worlds with brief comments on each rider explaining their selection to the team. We received the following letter from Daniel Sessford who makes some interesting observations concerning the CCA’s selection process and decisions.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing regarding the recent athlete selection to the 2008 Mountain Bike World Championships.
When the CCA released the Athlete Selection criteria it was obvious that the focus was on the World Cups. Being an Olympic year this makes sense, as most of the top athletes in Canada are also competing for a spot on the Olympic team and would be racing the World Cups. Any spots not filled through the world cups would be selected based on the Canada Cups, with a possibility of two spots available as committee choice. This seemed like a fair selection process.
On June 9, 2008 the CCA released the list of athletes who would be representing Canada at the 2008 World Championships. Once again it seems that even with a clear selection procedure based on results, some athletes are still given priority, and others ignored.
Let’s start with the Elite Men. Geoff Kabush and Seamus Mcgrath both earned team spots based on world cup performances.
The third selection was given to Derek Zandstra. He has been competing in the European world cups doing well there, but was given the selection based on his Canada Cup performances where he raced well and was able to be the top rider for the Elite men over three races.
What I don’t understand and I am sure many others are wondering is why Max Plaxton was selected. Not only were all three spots filled by riders who competed for them and earned them, but Max has not finished any races in Europe this year. After these World Cups, he could have gone to the first three Canada Cups and competed with Derek Zandstra for the Canada Cup spot to make the Worlds Selection criteria, but he didn’t. He chose not to compete in the Canada Cups but was still given a place on the team. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to cut down Max I am just interested to know why the CCA believes he earned that wild card spot over athletes with results.
Next are the Elite Women. Marie Helen Premont and Catharine Pendrel have definitely earned their spots. Kiara Bisaro was nominated as a wild card, when she actually earned the 3rd spot by ranking in the top 20 UCI. This means there should be another wild card spot available to an athlete in either the elite women or U23 men.
Why then was Mical Dyck not selected to compete at World Championships? She finished as the top female who scored best at two of three Canada Cups. Why wouldn’t the CCA send her as a fourth athlete, selected based on committee choice? There seems to be no problem with sending four men to World Championships even when one of those men has not completed any races in the last two months.
The U23 Espoir men also has me wondering just how much the CCA actually cares about the development of riders and the future of cycling within Canada.
Neal Kindree was selected based on his performance at Pan Am championships but unfortunately is injured and unable to compete.
Raphael Gagne has been impressive this year with two Canada Cup wins. He definitely deserves to go to World Championships. But with Neal injured, this leaves just one U23 rider out of a maximum of three competing at World Championships. Why not send Adam Morka? He has shown that he is very competitive on the Canada cup and NMBS circuit with a 8th place finish at Tremblant and a 4th place at Hardwood Hills.
For this World Championship team, the CCA was prepared to send 12 fully funded athletes and 3 self funded juniors (15 athletes). Now they are sending 9 fully funded athletes, and 5 self funded juniors (14 athletes). So, there is no reason not to send additional athletes, based on; cost, team size, competitiveness, or meeting the selection criteria.
The role of the CCA should be to help athletes develop to their full potential and secure medals at future major competitions like World Championships and Olympic Games. We as athletes can not do this, if not supported by our cycling governing body.
It’s not too late to add additional athletes to the team. These two athletes, Adam Morka and Mical Dyck have shown they are able capable of performing. Sending them to the World Championships is the right thing for the CCA to do, not only based on the selection criteria, but also for the development of world class athletes for the