Vital continues to have amazing Slideshows, and Sven continues to win at photos- case in point, our team portrait in the prior post, the one with the Thor hammer. Yeah, I know, your team does suck. Yesterday’s Windham coverage was awesome as always, except for one thing really bummed me out.
After this picture of some random slow looking female that I’ve never heard of, was a caption that I thought was pretty honest, but also pretty crummy:
“There are only 162 starters for tomorrow’s qualifier compared to nearly double that in Europe. Is that just the state of USA racing? There are almost more Japanese riders here than Americans. Yuki Kushima loving his Kashima out here today.” Credit: Sven Martin
I’m not above internet squabbling, so I thought I’d weigh in. Sure Sven works his ass off around the clock for a meager income to bring us the best World Cup coverage anywhere, but I figured now was as good a time as any to shit on the hand that feeds me, so I declared war via the comments section. Here’s what I wrote, and I think it addresses an important, misunderstood element of the long-running debate “why does America suck so bad at racing? (Except for Gwin):”
“I’m not even going to talk about UCI points. We all know that there is a serious lack of UCI races on the North American continent. That situation sucks, but it’s actually sort of secondary. In practice, the way most Americans (and I think most people in most places) get to race their first world cup is by representing their national federation. AKA wear the flag jersey.
Example 1: Eliot Jackson not sucking at La Bresse last year http://gp1.pinkbike.org/p5pb6964762/p5pb6964762.jpg
Example 2: Me sucking at Leogang last year http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xVS5RF2ufYg/TgAfQ9cLp4I/AAAAAAAACxE/6nsyycYDXn4/s1600/chazz%2Bleogang.jpg
There are 47 countries in Europe, with a population of 700 million people. In contrast, The USA is one country with 350 million people. Every UCI-recognized national federation gets 7 spots at any world cup. That means Europe’s 700 million people have 329 available spots at any given World Cup round, and America’s 350 million people have 7 spots. That sounds like less to me. And just a wild guess Sven… I bet all seven of those USA spots were filled at MSA and Windham.
As long as the UCI chooses to give the big US equal representation as small countries like Latvia and Switzerland and Austria, you’re going to keep seeing wacky, disproportionate, unrepresentative populations at World Cups.
Anyway, Aaron Gwin’s the man
So I guess the long and short answer is, yes Sven, that is just the state of USA racing, at least until things change, which they won’t. The UCI is a bunch of old, Swiss roadies. I doubt they’re going to be sitting around one day and think, “hey, Jurgen, you know what would be awesome? Let’s help make the playing field more level for the Americans!” So prepare for the U.S. to, largely, continue being mediocre.
Some other things that nobody talks about:
Why is England so fast at downhill? Well, the other sports you can consider if you have the skills to race World Cup Downhill are motocross and skiing. For reference, this is what skiing looks like in England:
Why is America so slow at Downhill? Again, the other sports to choose from are skiing and motocross. There are five reasons why skiing will always be more popular than downhill mountain biking in America:
And there are about a million reasons Glad-wrapped together that explain why Villopoto would like to take his superhuman winning skills to the Monster Cup instead of the UCI World Cup:
Plain and simple: we have big mountains, so skiing takes a lot of talent, and we have AMA Motocross, which is the premier racing league for the entire world, aka $$$$$$$. Downhill isn’t even on the radar here, whereas for people like the Athertons or Blenkinsop or Sam Hill, they either got to choose between mountain biking or watching goats chew grass: