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Hi John - fantastic report on the juniors thank you!
We're blessed down here in the Ohio Valley region with 2 extremely strong junior programs - Red Zone based out of Louisville and the Lionhearts team out of Cincinnati. To better serve their years of dedication to developing juniors, the OVCX series for 2011 tweaked the categories a bit to create an improved pathway for progression and recognition for the juniors. We wanted to be a series that equally encouraged participation and fun of the 9-yr old "waddlers" on their mountain bikes - as much as help encourage the development of our plethora of gifted juniors. Besides every OVCX event having a free fun race/ride for kids 9 and under, there's a 10-12/13-4 race for boys and girls where the kids have their own course with no adults racing.
For the faster/more advanced kids that can handle themselves better, we start integrating them in with adults of similar ability/speed. So the 15-18 boys mix it up with the Cat 4 men (not in separate waves but actually mixed in with them), and the 15-18 girls race with the Cat 4 women. Additionally, at the next level, we have an any-age U19 Elite category option for the stronger boys and girls. The U19 elite boys race together with the Cat 3 men (not in separate waves but actually mixed in with them) - and the U19 girls with the Elite/Cat 3 women. For our top 5% juniors (the "Eurocrosscampers") - they are mixing it up with the elites when they race locally.
It's been a couple of years since we gave the beginner juniors their own starting time and track - and it's absolutely beneficial to their racing experience. More so, it's beneficial to the adults, as no adult wants to be responsible for accidentally crashing out at 10 year old as they're lapping them out on the course. Our more advanced junior riders already had their parents entering them in the adult categories in previous years, so integrating the older elite juniors into the adult races this year was just a way of organizing that and recognizing those juniors in the event results and podiums.
Also, when reporting event results to USAC, we reported combined wave results and not category results so that our elite junior riders got the best possible quality-of-field scores for their USAC-ranking and Nationals staging.
Thanks again for writing this report and congrats on your success growing the junior fields up in Oregon - very cool!!
2 years, 9 months ago on Just How Healthy is Junior Cyclocross in the US?