Packed with power, speed, and strength, the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team consists of five riders – three men and two women. These professionals race World Cup, U.S. Cup, and other pro cross-country mountain bike events. Race course layout, difficulty, and length vary from venue to venue. The most important venue is the Olympic Games, which first hosted this discipline in 1996, and the most prestigious position to hold is on an Olympic team.
The Subaru Trek team has four riders on the list of candidates for the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is the first time Emily Batty (Canada) has been eligible for the Olympics, while Heather Irmiger (U.S.), Sam Schultz (U.S.), and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (JHK) (U.S.) all were part of the selection process for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. JHK was on the 2004 Athens Olympic team.
Based on 2012 World Cup events, the top two men and top two women of each participating country will make their Olympic teams. On June 8, 2012, Canada was expected to announce its team, and on June 15, the United States was expected to announce its team.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski attempts to qualify for his second Olympics.
What started out as a ride with friends in eighth grade has turned into a successful career for JHK. At the age of 16, he became competitive at the junior level and began doing international races. He since has become a dominant and consistent competitor in the sport, winning 14 National Championships.
As the only member of the Subaru Trek team to qualify for a past Olympic Games, JHK recounted, “The experience was incredible, and it’s something I will remember the rest of my life. The Olympics are an amazing showcase on a stage of mainstream interest that we don’t normally get. To mix with the other athletes in their sports at the top of their games is a really unique experience.”
At the age of 33, JHK brings experience and wisdom with him to this process. He modified his workouts to prepare for the year ahead, hoping to land one of the two spots on the men’s team. “I’ve trained really hard this winter,” shared JHK. “I trained a little bit more consistently through the off-season since some of the selection races are really early, which is a hard time for me to be going fast.”
Emily Batty races for a shot on the Canadian Olympic Team.
The 2012 season marks the second year for Batty in the elite ranks, previously racing in the under-23 category. She began riding at age 9, but wasn’t able to compete until she was 10. Riding for her began as a family activity, supporting her older brother, until she got her chance to ride and shine.
The start of the 2012 season has been an intense and strong start for the 23-year-old. In the first World Cup race this year, she placed second, identifying herself as a strong contender and candidate for the Olympics. “When I was 9 or 10, I wanted to go to the Olympics,” explained Batty. “When you love a sport that much, that is all you desire – to be at the one event.”
Although it’s always been a dream of hers, the last two years have been dedicated to new training methods, workouts, and places, and to trying to figure out what works. The hardest thing this year has been to maintain training while juggling a full season schedule complete with international travel. “As soon as the season starts, it is easy to lose the foundation that you’ve built the four months leading into the season. It’s nice to have the gaps between World Cups so you can maintain and put those hours back in,” revealed Batty.
Emily Batty riding in the 2011 Subaru Cup in Mount Morris, Wisconsin.