Monday, August 11, 2008

I Scored UCI Points! Now What?

Technically I hit my goal. I wanted to accumulate enough UCI points this year to be eligible to race a World Cup. Low and behold, it happened. I grabbed them at the US National Championships in Vermont on July 20. Sweet! I thought, I can drive to Mount-Sainte-Anne next week and finally race my World Cup downhill "oot and aboot" in the land of maple syrup, Celine Dion and snooty-sounding Quebecois!

Not so fast sister!
I thought that if I got on the ball I would be able to race the next two World Cups that were being held in Canada starting July 26. As it turns out, per UCI rules, I needed to have accumulated and submitted the points prior to July 8, 2008. There was nothing that could be done to squeak me in to either the Mont-Sainte-Anne or Bromont events. This discovery led to a swarm of new questions about the UCI points themselves. Where do they live? When can I see them? Do they know I exist? I decided to look into the matter a bit further to clear up some common misconceptions.

Points are elusive and are easily scared away. (Not a misconception.)
I am an American racer. American racers starting with no UCI points and participating solely in US downhill events during 2008 had one, yes, ONE chance to nab any UCI points by the July 8th deadline. This situation is not unusual. Normally there is only one opportunity to score UCI points on US soil all season long, and that's at the National Championships. This season, riders could utilize the National Championships, as well as the Snowmass Blast the Mass race and the Angel Fire Chile Challenge to score points. However, only the Chile Challenge happened before the July 8th deadline for the Canadian events.

Also, the Chile Challenge was only a C2 event, meaning that if you started with no UCI points, you had to place no worse than 2nd in order to gain the 20 UCI points required to participate in a World Cup race. So, if you didn't start out the season with the points needed to race at the North American World Cups, your chances of getting those points are slim to none. If you started the season with a few points, your stats are more favorable, but not by much. (Your points are specific to your discipline, so mountaincross points won't get you into a downhill event and vice versa.) Another last-ditch effort to snag your points would be to either petition USAC for elgibility or get chosen by them to represent the USA at the World Championships and then race your buns off to qualify well.

Why the early deadline?
If the registration deadline fell after the Snowmass race, (which was a C1 ranking and awarded a heap more points than Angel Fire), it would give riders who scored 1-19 points at Angel Fire or had a few points that carried over from 2007 another chance to score the points needed to hit the magic 20.

I contacted USA Cycling to find out more about my precious points. Mr. Marc Gullickson explained to me that for riders who are not on a UCI registered trade team, it is necessary to register for World Cup events through the USAC, not directly through UCI. USAC can't set their registration deadline on the same day as the UCI deadline because all of the rider information needs to be uploaded. USAC gives themselves a week to do this. That's why the USAC World Cup registration deadline is actually a week before the UCI posted deadline. USAC, however did specifically ask the UCI for leniency on the point deadline rule for the two Canadian World Cup events to which the UCI flatly said, “No.”

Well, boo! However, I understand that they have deadlines for a reason and if they bend them for every Harry Hardknocks and Sally Sobstory, it would probably result in (even more) chaos.

What do I do with all of these glorious points if I can’t use them this year?
I was thinking of making them into a necklace or maybe a belt until I found out that they carry over! Woohoo! UCI points are on a rolling calendar which means points earned are kept until the date that they were earned the following year. Yes, come 2009, riders who have accumulated UCI points in 2008 will carry those points into the 2009 season! You can add to your old points to get to your 20. Just make sure you use them before they expire.

A glimmer of hope!
For once in professional gravity racing, it pays to be a girl. UCI points are awarded equally whether you're a guy or a girl. And National Championship races award far more points than the other UCI races. So simply showing up and racing the National Championships will greatly increase your chances of scoring 20 or more points in one shot--and it will increase the competitiveness of the National Championships as well. That's a win-win situation.

American guys and girls who ride as privateers have the same obstacles to overcome to even be able to take a swing at a World Cup. There just aren't that many races to attend to get the points, but there are far more guys struggling to get their points than there are girls in the same situation. Last year Decline Magazine created Team America to give a few more guys the opportunity to race on the World Cup circuit, and they're all doing pretty well out there. Cody Warren is ranked 67th in the series right now, and Cole Bangert is 105th. That's not to say they wouldn't have come up with their UCI points on their own (both are National Champions, so both probably had plenty to work with), but the point is that once riders are given the opportunity to race at the World Cup level, their riding skills increase dramatically, and the competitiveness of US riders skyrockets at home and on the circuit. So it makes sense that giving more riders more opportunities to race at the World Cup level benefits everyone.

You may have scored some points already this year, and they'll carry over to the '09 season. Visit uci.ch to check your numbers.

I digress...
The World Cup courses and more UCI rules will weed out riders who don't belong at the gnarliest courses on the planet. (See the July 3 post, “Petition to Reverse the UCI Women’s Downhill Qualifying Rule”) If more riders have more opportunities to score points and use them, the number of women racing at World Cups will increase, and it will only make sense that the number of riders who move from qualifying to the final run will need to increase--maybe even to 40! As I mentioned before, giving more girls the opportunities to race and ride the World Cup courses increases overall skill levels and the competitiveness of the whole women's field. That's how the sport will grow.

Sit and whine or get up and do something!

Get up and do something, silly. Part of the reason that I was disappointed this season is that I had a hard time finding information about how and when to sign up for the World Cups. If you have questions that weren't answered here, and are wondering how to sign up for World Cups in the future, check out the USA Cycling documents on their website.

If you want more opportunities to earn points, start contacting the promoters of all the big events that you think should offer opportunities for UCI points. The Mountain States Cup series and Bigfoot Production hosted Snowmass and Angel Fire this year, so hopefully we'll see more events next season. Although the USAC encourages promoters to offer UCI points, there i$ more to it than ju$t applying for UCI points $tatu$. In many cases the extra UCI fees and rule restrictions discourage the promoters from even considering it.

What options are left for racing a World Cup in '08?
I could still go to Australia or Austria and race a World Cup there, however (cue the violin music) with the waning value of the dollar, price of airfare, time off of work, etc. it isn't realistic. As much as I’d love to live for the moment and go, I think my time is best spent learning what I need to do to get ready for next season. For the rest of the year I’ll be buttering up my husband for that honeymoon we still need to take--I hear Mont-Sainte-Anne, Val Di Sol and Maribor are just lovely!

1 comment:

Russell said...

Hey,
You have no idea how helpful this was.
I cant thank you enough!