Most Experienced — Joe Brautigam (M50) from Bethel, Connecticut, is by far the strongest and most experienced MTBO rider on the team with over 13 years of adventure racing experience (the closest thing to MTBO in the United States right now) and four USARA National Masters Championship titles under his belt. Brautigam joined the team in 2013 and is credited with being the first American MTBO rider to ever see the international podium with his first place finish in the 2013 WMTBOC Open Competition (M50 Category) in Estonia. Expect to see more from Brautigam in the Middle and Long distance World Masters MTBO Championship events.
Most Improved — Returning from his debut with the 2013 US MTBO Team is is Thomas Puzak (M21) from Excelsior, Minnesota. Puzak was the first of four American Men to ever compete in the World MTBO Championships and the only American man to ever compete in the WMTBOC Long distance MTBO event. Although Puzak finished toward the back of the pack during his first time in international competition, Puzak has matured from last year and has the potential to break into the top 20 of the Long distance MTBO event standings.
Strongest Legs – Newcomer Peter Jolles (M21) from Marietta, Georgia, is also an experienced adventure racer with several tough, expedition-level adventure racing titles to his credit. Knowing that adventure racing style MTBO speed does not always translate into IOF MTBO speed, it will be interesting to see if his endurance and keen navigator’s eye can be used his advantage during the longer distance MTBO events. If he ranks well in the Middle distance MTBO event, expect to see him as a contender for the Men’s Long distance MTBO event slot.
Toughest Rider – Rookie Dave Swanson (M21) from Brunsville, Minnesota, joins this year’s US MTBO Team with a few hardcore adventure racing accolades to his name. Just like his teammate Jolles, Swanson’s expeditions make him geared toward Middle and Long distance MTBO events and should see him put the Europeans to the test. The fact that he raced Solo for his 2nd place finish during 2012 Checkpoint Tracker National Championships may be just was America’s needs in a MTBO athlete to break the top 20 in the Middle or Long distance MTBO events.
Roster Shocker — One of the most exciting additions to the 2014 US MTBO Team is Nathan Winkelmann (M21) from Huntsville, Texas. This newcomer is the youngest member of the Men’s team and the only true mountain bike racer (with the exception of Liz Notter) competing for the United States in International MTBO competition. Winkelmann has done his share of adventure racing and orienteering, but it is his USA Cycling National Championship races and numerous top 10 finishes in both short-track and cross-country mountain bike events that captured our attention! Pitting Winkelmann against the elite European UCI riders, racing in the World MTBO Championships for “training”, should see the first shake up in USA standings since we started going to the WMTBOC in 2012.
Local Favorite — Liz Notter (W40) from Gaithersburg, Maryland is one of the most well rounded mountain bike racers on this year’s team and one of the only riders to actually race (and win) a regional MTBO competition (2014 Quantico Orienteering Club’s Rosaryville MTBO race) in the United States. Notter is most likely the strongest long distance Women’s rider on the US MTBO Team and should be the rider to watch during the Middle and Long distance MTBO events. Additionally, Notter is from MTBO America’s home town area and we hope she knocks some tires together as a strong competitor in the World Masters MTBO Championships.
Most Improved — Veteran Susan Grandjean (W21) from Portland, Oregon, is one of the pioneers that led the US MTBO Team to their first World MTBO Championships in 2012. Now in her third year, Grandjean lead’s the Women’s team has the highest ranked American Women’s MTBO rider with huge gains each year as her MTBO course times in the Sprint and Middle distance MTBO events get faster and faster. Although there is new talent on the team sure to shake the standings, Grandjean is expected to hold her own and continue to improve as the most experienced rider on the team.
Rising Star – Veteran Abra McNair (W21) from Portland, Oregon, is one of the first Americans to compete in the World MTBO Championship in 2012. Now as an experienced International MTBO racer, McNair is sure to be a key player in coaching the new members on the team on the nuances of World MTBO Sprint and Relay competition. McNair has also show great improvement since 2012 and is expected to have a fantastic year in both the Sprint, Relay, and Middle distance MTBO events.
Biggest Surprise — Another serious newcomer from the Lone Star State is Sarah Ginsbach (W21) from Huntsville, Texas. As both the youngest women and the youngest member on the team, Ginsbach shares a similar resume to Winkelmann as a USA Cycling CAT 1 State and National champion. However, what stood out to us was her 2011 XTERRA Worlds Qualifier and 2013 Super D National Champion awards. This girl sounds tough enough to put USA into the top 20 of the Sprint distance MTBO and serve as a great anchor on the Relay team. It will be interesting to see how Ginsbach’s solid mountain bike racing accomplishments pairs up against the adventure racers on the team.
About MTBO America
It is the mission of MTBO America to bring Mountain Bike Orienteering to the forefront of American orienteering competitions and build a competitive environment that will allow athletes to compete in the sport both regionally, nationally, and internationally. Learn what you can do by visiting MTBO America today!