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Old 08-25-08, 09:21 AM   #1
mcompton1973
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What would it take to win a MTB medal in Olympics

That might sound like a dumb question...I was just totally floored that there was no US person even in the HUNT for Olympic Medal in XC.

Just wondering on why that was?

My son is 14. He says he wants to be the first US Medalist in XC in the Olympics. I dunno if it is possible...but all of the sudden he has found some purpose in life...lol. Now to see if he sticks with it when it gets hard...lol. To date he has never 'trained' for a race. He just hops on my old Trek (not that old...) and he pedals around. He naturally is pretty athletic etc...and he usually beats most people in his age bracket, and the one above him. There are a couple guys who TRAIN, and kick his butt.

I dont know if he will ever be the one...but I will push him to be if he wants it...but more important to this conversation is why it has never happened before? I just dont get it. Seems like there is no reason we havent. That being said I am pretty new to this all...so we will see.
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Old 08-25-08, 09:34 AM   #2
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That might sound like a dumb question...I was just totally floored that there was no US person even in the HUNT for Olympic Medal in XC.

Just wondering on why that was?

My son is 14. He says he wants to be the first US Medalist in XC in the Olympics. I dunno if it is possible...but all of the sudden he has found some purpose in life...lol. Now to see if he sticks with it when it gets hard...lol. To date he has never 'trained' for a race. He just hops on my old Trek (not that old...) and he pedals around. He naturally is pretty athletic etc...and he usually beats most people in his age bracket, and the one above him. There are a couple guys who TRAIN, and kick his butt.

I dont know if he will ever be the one...but I will push him to be if he wants it...but more important to this conversation is why it has never happened before? I just dont get it. Seems like there is no reason we havent. That being said I am pretty new to this all...so we will see.
1 to be able to endure tremendous amount of pain for 2+ hours
2 to have amazing genetics
3 ride...ride...ride
4 get recognized and get on a team
train train train and train more

Most european and olympic MTB courses could be ridden on a freaking X bike. This one was more difficult.
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Old 08-25-08, 10:54 AM   #3
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1) Beat the rest of the field.
2) If not #1, then beat at least everyone but one person in the field.
3) If not #2, then beat at least everyone but two people in the field.

That is the general structure of the gold, silver, bronze medal system.
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Old 08-25-08, 10:56 AM   #4
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That might sound like a dumb question...I was just totally floored that there was no US person even in the HUNT for Olympic Medal in XC.

Just wondering on why that was?

My son is 14. He says he wants to be the first US Medalist in XC in the Olympics. I dunno if it is possible...but all of the sudden he has found some purpose in life...lol. Now to see if he sticks with it when it gets hard...lol. To date he has never 'trained' for a race. He just hops on my old Trek (not that old...) and he pedals around. He naturally is pretty athletic etc...and he usually beats most people in his age bracket, and the one above him. There are a couple guys who TRAIN, and kick his butt.

I dont know if he will ever be the one...but I will push him to be if he wants it...but more important to this conversation is why it has never happened before? I just dont get it. Seems like there is no reason we havent. That being said I am pretty new to this all...so we will see.

Hundreds of hours on a trainer.
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Old 08-25-08, 11:11 AM   #5
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Yeah that **** is intense. I was watching and they were saying the climbing is comparable to a Tour de France mountain stage and they ride it on heavier suspension mountain bikes. First you need to be a naturally gifted cyclist. You can't just train to become an Olympic athlete you need to have a naturally gifted and on top of that train your ass off. So to break it down. Dedicate your life to cycling and you might have a chance.
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Old 08-25-08, 11:13 AM   #6
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If he is showing promise in organized races, a good step may be to go to the USA Cycling site (www.usacycling.org) and go to the search page of USAC-certified coaches (http://www.usacycling.org/coaches/search.php) for your geographic area. You might also try to get him connected to a club - -especially one with a strong youth-development program. Here is the USAC page with Nebraska-based clubs:

http://usacycling.org/clubs/index.php?state=NE
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Old 08-25-08, 11:35 AM   #7
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Make riding a mountain bike a full time job of 8 hours a day should maybe do the trick after a few years of this you'll be good.
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Old 08-25-08, 12:03 PM   #8
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My son is 14. He says he wants to be the first US Medalist in XC in the Olympics. I dunno if it is possible...but all of the sudden he has found some purpose in life...lol. Now to see if he sticks with it when it gets hard...lol. To date he has never 'trained' for a race. He just hops on my old Trek (not that old...) and he pedals around. He naturally is pretty athletic etc...and he usually beats most people in his age bracket, and the one above him. There are a couple guys who TRAIN, and kick his butt.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_DeMattei 1996 Olympic Bronze. He could still shoot for being the first in the Mens though. Like the others have said lots of training will be required, but it could be a reachable goal.
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Old 08-25-08, 12:06 PM   #9
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JunkYard,
Thanks for the complete analysis of the whole Gold, Silver, Bronze thing. I think I was getting hung up on how you could get lapped, and then NOT win a medal...but you have clarified it for me.

Serious I know that if he wanted to do the Olympics, he would have to devote pretty much everything to it. I guess my real question is why has no one in the US done it before? What am I missing? We have some pretty crazy good athletes out there...so what are we not doing right?
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Old 08-25-08, 12:14 PM   #10
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GreenFast. he was watching Olympic coverage on TV...prob they said no male has ever won...we thought they said no one frmo US has won a medal. Thanks for clarifying.

Seems to me that MTB are older in general than some sports. In otherwords most of the really good guys seem to be mid 20's or so. Not like some sports where they are a bunch of 18yr kids.

I know to ask what would it take seems stupid...train, DUH...and I was not trying to be like that. I guess I am trying to figure out what is making it impossible for us to place. Is it because we train on 'REAL MTB courses, or becuase in the US is not as LONG of a race? or because of the smog in China, or what is it that has stopped us from being at the top?

Last question. how do you know if you have the genetics or not? lol. i.e. I dont ride competitivly, and his mom doesnt ride at all...but Michael Phelps mom does not swim. So how do you know? what do you look for? I want him to shoot for the moon...but I dont want to pump him 100% full of BS either. lol

Thanks.
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Old 08-25-08, 12:51 PM   #11
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JunkYard,
Thanks for the complete analysis of the whole Gold, Silver, Bronze thing. I think I was getting hung up on how you could get lapped, and then NOT win a medal...but you have clarified it for me.
I do what I can. In today's world of "everyone wins", where we try to not hurt any child's feelings for fear that they may learn what disappointment is, I figured explaining the medal system would be of help.

As far as becoming an Olympic athlete, you never know. If your son can keep focus, anything can happen. At the very least, he learns a skill that can keep him in good shape for a lifetime. Just as dminor or mtnbiker66. They are crazy old and still ride.
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Old 08-25-08, 12:53 PM   #12
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To get to the podium at the olympics requires money. Lots of it. To be a professional XC racer means logging hours and miles travelling from race to race every weekend for the next several years. This is not cheap. The kid won't really have a job, other than riding his bike. The kid will need a road bike for training and the occasional race [i.e. criteriums]. Sponsors can help, but it will still be an out-of-pocket experience. Having the right body type helps a lot [5'6" - 5'10", narrow, lean, 160 lbs. or less]. If he's a stocky kid, get thee to a velodrome! After all that, if he hasn't got the "special something", he could still end up a mid-pack Elite rider and never make the big time.

Why do the 'Mericans have a tough time cracking the top 3 in XC? Tough call. It's more fun to do dirt jump sessions with your buddies and go for nachos at 7-11 than to pound out hill repeats by yourself on some backwoods fireroad. In Europe, it's common for kids to dream of being a professional cyclist. Most kids in the US want to be a ball player of some sort [base/basket/foot], and the bike is seen as a toy, or something they ride until they can afford a car. I blame society.
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Old 08-25-08, 12:57 PM   #13
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To get to the podium at the olympics requires money. Lots of it. To be a professional XC racer means logging hours and miles travelling from race to race every weekend for the next several years. This is not cheap. The kid won't really have a job, other than riding his bike. The kid will need a road bike for training and the occasional race [i.e. criteriums]. Sponsors can help, but it will still be an out-of-pocket experience. Having the right body type helps a lot [5'6" - 5'10", narrow, lean, 160 lbs. or less]. If he's a stocky kid, get thee to a velodrome! After all that, if he hasn't got the "special something", he could still end up a mid-pack Elite rider and never make the big time.

Why do the 'Mericans have a tough time cracking the top 3 in XC? Tough call. It's more fun to do dirt jump sessions with your buddies and go for nachos at 7-11 than to pound out hill repeats by yourself on some backwoods fireroad. In Europe, it's common for kids to dream of being a professional cyclist. Most kids in the US want to be a ball player of some sort [base/basket/foot], and the bike is seen as a toy, or something they ride until they can afford a car. I blame society.

I agree. The US should buy a mountainous island from a third world country and raise a group of elite cyclists on it who know nothing of the outside world.
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Old 08-25-08, 01:07 PM   #14
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Well the good news is that it looks like he wont be starting out with a lot of obstacles in his way.
1...he is 5'6 now. He will grow more...but I think it will be a challenge for him to get over 5'10. I am 5'9 his mom is 5'7 and neither of us have tall parents etc. so height should be OK.

2. He is 122 pounds he has a very lean body, 6 pack abs etc. He eats a lot...but he does not like sweeets and candy, cakes etc. and he is not a big fast food junk food guy. Not anything that I ever did...just naturally like that. he eats better than 95% of high school kids I am sure.

3. He is strong. He lifted all summer for football, and he is in top 15% to 20% as far as what he can lift even though he has a leaner, smaller build then most of the freshman do.

So physically...he might be ok.

now, there is a significant NEGATIVE....money. That will be a little bit limiting...but I am sure as with all things...where there is a will there is a way.

He likes football, and baseball...but not enough that it has really moved him to pour himself into it. He seems to be doing that now with the MTB's so we will see I guess. Maybe if he dreams big dreams like the European kids, then he can do it...who knows.
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Old 08-25-08, 01:19 PM   #15
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Good luck to him.

There is an upside to not fulfilling a sport dream, though. Had I fulfilled mine of racing on the AMA Grand National circuit, I could have spent ten years driving cross-country in an aging van hoping to make main event placing so that I could get enough of the purse to get to the next race in Peoria, where I would hope the factory wrenches would throw a spare piston my way so that I could do a quick tear-down between the heats and semis. And wishing I was on a factory Harley instead of some clapped-out British bike.

And now I'd probably be twisting wrenches in some shop in Portland, OR or doing confined-space welding in some Seattle ship yard.

As it was, I made my 'second choice' of going to college and getting a degree so that I can work at a desk as a graphic designer and magazine editor and post goofy things on the interwebs a bit. I think it worked out OK.
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Old 08-25-08, 01:22 PM   #16
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Good luck to him.

There is an upside to not fulfilling a sport dream though too. Had I fulfilled mine of racing on the AMA Gran National circuit, I could have spent ten years driving cross-country in an aging van hoping to make main event placing so that I could get enough of the pruse to get to the next race in Peoria, where I would hope the factory wrenches would throw a spare piston my way so that I could do a quick tera-down between the heats and semis.

And now I'd probably be twisting wrenches in some shop in Portland, OR or doing confined-space welding in some Seattle ship yard.

As it was, I made my 'second choice' of going to college and getting a degree so that I can work at a desk as a graphic designer and magazine editor and post goofy things on the interwebs a bit. I think it worked out OK.

Of course, at some point, your judgement around movies was impaired.
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Old 08-25-08, 02:52 PM   #17
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Why do the 'Mericans have a tough time cracking the top 3 in XC? Tough call. It's more fun to do dirt jump sessions with your buddies and go for nachos at 7-11 than to pound out hill repeats by yourself on some backwoods fireroad. In Europe, it's common for kids to dream of being a professional cyclist. Most kids in the US want to be a ball player of some sort [base/basket/foot], and the bike is seen as a toy, or something they ride until they can afford a car. I blame society.
Yep, i completely agree with this thinking. Was going to say it myself, but you beat me to it.

i try to get others out to ride with me, but none of the kids are interested at all. i know a few hundred people in my age group and only a few of them ride bikes for fun. no one cares. no one is interested. of these three individuals, two of them are into DJ + DH. not XC or road riding. the other guy (the only one i ride with) isn't terribly interested in the sport either. he'll come out with me if he has nothing else to do.
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Old 08-25-08, 03:00 PM   #18
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Yeah xc sucks, who wants to work hard in america going uphill. That's for the euro-weenies.

Seriously, I think it's a lack of major support. There isn't enough interest/money in cycling here to make kids dream to be professional cyclists. The pool of young people going in to the sport is smaller and that means fewer people with exceptional athletic potential to compete on the international level.

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Old 08-25-08, 03:03 PM   #19
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A few yers ago I was in Italy and I watched a show for kids showing "little leaguers" from around the country as they participated in training events and competitions. These were young kids, definitely under 10, riding road bikes and participating in club rides. These "clubs" were more like little league teams for road bikes.

What does this show you? It is so ingrained in the culture that young kids willfully think of joining teams such as these. It also shows you that this is a culture where a Saturday morning kids' show was showing kids participating in road bike clubs.
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Old 08-25-08, 03:10 PM   #20
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I don't know about winning a gold, but I am pretty sure right now that I could race on the Zimbabwe olympic MTB team
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Old 08-25-08, 03:15 PM   #21
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Well the good news is that it looks like he wont be starting out with a lot of obstacles in his way.
1...he is 5'6 now. He will grow more...but I think it will be a challenge for him to get over 5'10. I am 5'9 his mom is 5'7 and neither of us have tall parents etc. so height should be OK.

2. He is 122 pounds he has a very lean body, 6 pack abs etc. He eats a lot...but he does not like sweeets and candy, cakes etc. and he is not a big fast food junk food guy. Not anything that I ever did...just naturally like that. he eats better than 95% of high school kids I am sure.

3. He is strong. He lifted all summer for football, and he is in top 15% to 20% as far as what he can lift even though he has a leaner, smaller build then most of the freshman do.

So physically...he might be ok.

now, there is a significant NEGATIVE....money. That will be a little bit limiting...but I am sure as with all things...where there is a will there is a way.

He likes football, and baseball...but not enough that it has really moved him to pour himself into it. He seems to be doing that now with the MTB's so we will see I guess. Maybe if he dreams big dreams like the European kids, then he can do it...who knows.
I think you are thinking into it too hard.
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Old 08-25-08, 03:41 PM   #22
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Of course, at some point, your judgement around movies was impaired.
It has probably always been there; just waiting to manifest itself to greater or lesser degrees.
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Old 08-25-08, 04:23 PM   #23
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mcompton - If you are serious about getting your son into racing, go talk to your favorite local bike shop, or find a local bike club. Many shops and clubs sponsor racing teams, and these racers receive discounts. Invest in a decent entry level bike and have him start entering local races. The shop or club can recommend basic training programs. After a few races he'll get the general picture and you can gauge where to go from there.
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Old 08-25-08, 04:47 PM   #24
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I forgot to add in the Shaun White business model [there are factual mistakes here - just go with it]:
Shaun White was a skateboarding kid from the US. He showed some talent for it at a young age, and also for snowboarding. When he was ~10 [I think], his parents said, "Shaun, if this is what you really want, we'll support you". They drove him all over Hell's half acre to every skateboard and snowboard contest they could get to in their van. The Whites were not wealthy, and they sacrificed a fair bit for several years. Shaun turned pro when he was 14, had his signature Burton snowboard and multiple X-Games gold by 16, and won a gold medal in the Olympics before his 20th birthday. He has been compared to Terje Håkonsen [this is like having your kid's name spoken in the same breath as Ned Overend or John Tomac]. The upside? Shaun White is a multi-millionaire, and his parents live quite comfortably.

I'm not saying that this is a guaranteed path to cycling stardom, but this sort of backing is what it takes to succeed, unless the kid is the Chosen One or something. The downside is that there is virtually no money in XC in North America. Most of the sponsorships are going to the gravity racing, TV-friendly side...
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Old 08-25-08, 05:10 PM   #25
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I'm a little late on this one, but what would it take for the USA to win gold? It would take me or someone of my exteme talents to show up and win it.
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