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Where does Canada’s Olympic XCO qualification stand after Brazil World Cups?

Where does Canada's Olympic XCO qualification stand after Brazil World Cups?

Paris Olympics are under 100 days away, which means the race to earn spots on the start line is heating up. Making this more exciting, Canadian cross country racers, collectively, just had their best start to the World Cup in years in Mairiporã and Araxa, Brazil.

Making it to the start line for the Olympic mountain bike race is a somewhat complicated process, though. First a country has to earn a spot, or two, in the 36-rider field. Then each athlete has to qualify for one of those spots. How does that work, and where does Canada stand heading into Paris? We’ll break that all down.

There’s three parts to this story. How many spots will Canada get on the start line in Paris? How can Canadian riders qualify for those spots? Who is in the running to qualify at this point?

How does Olympic selection work? 

Selection for the Olympic mountain bike race is, like most things with the UCI, based on accumulating points. Racers earn the most points at events like world championships and World Cup races. But they can also gain points through lower-level HC, C1 and C2 events.

Seems straight forward, right? More points equals qualifying? Well, not so fast. From there, it gets complicated.

Individual athletes earn points, but selection is based off nation ranking. Nations are ranked by only their top three athletes, with separate rankings for men and women. That ranking determines how many spots each nation gets (their “quota”). It is then up to each national federation (NOC) to determine which athletes gets to fill that quota. Since a country may have more capable riders than they have athletes, this makes the various national selection processes almost as important as qualifying places in the first place. For example, the United States had four women in the top 10 (Haley Batten, Savilia Blunk, Kelsey Urban and Kate Courtney finished 2nd, 3rd, 8th, and 10th, in that order). Switzerland had four riders in the top 12. Both countries can still send a maximum of two women to Paris.

Nations are ranked based on points earned over a designated qualification period. For the Paris Games, that runs from May 7, 2022 through to May 26, 2024. For a point of reference, that starts near the beginning of the 2022 World Cup season and concludes with the 2024 Nove Mesto World Cup.

Final quotas for each nation will be communicated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on June 3, 2024.

Each nation can earn a maximum of two spots for the cross country mountain bike…

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