article on bikemagic.com, UCI President, Pat McQuaid, stated that mountain biking risks being excluded as an Olympic event if it doesn`t increase its appeal to television viewers. To avoid the fate of softball and baseball, mountain biking must significantly improve its image.
According to Peter Van den Abeele, UCI`s technical delegate, mountain biking is the most difficult and most expensive event to produce for television due to the nature of the sport. A significant change to the traditional presentation is required to ensure mountain biking is more attractive prior to the 2013 evaluation which will determine if it should remain an Olympic event.
Hadleigh Farm has been selected as the mountain bike venue and the course has been designed with spectators and television audience in mind. If you haven`t seen the plans for the XC MTB course at the 2012 Olympics in London, it is not what would considered a traditional mountain bike course. The distance has been reduced to 5.1 kilometers and mainly works its way up and down an open hillside with only a small wooded section. Don`t think that it won`t be technical though as there is a considerable amount of work being done creating several rocky drops which are expected to challenge even the best racers.
I am all about trying to maintain tradition, but if a change is required to retain mountain biking as an Olympic event, I will support it. If this change helps popularize mountain biking and brings more people into our sport, then it will be worth the effort.
There is an excellent article from British Cycling that talks further about the past, present and future of the course at Hadleigh Farm.