The new kids on the World Cup block are… kids (well, young adults really). In a unique twist, the latest team to throw its hat into the UCI Downhill ring is composed entirely of junior racers. The Eastern States Cup North American Downhill Team is the first all-junior squad to receive full trade team status from the UCI. Nine teens from the U.S. and Canada will be racing for this team at World Cups and ProGRTs across the globe this coming season. The North American Downhill Team is the brainchild of George Ulmer, founder and owner of the popular Eastern States Cup enduro and downhill series. Ulmer is a huge champion of east coast racing and sees this as an important next step for the sport: “I really want to give back and feel this is a good way to do that. I hope to make this a long term venture as it will help the future of junior downhill racing by providing direct access to Junior World Cup events.”
The East Coast is fertile ground for developing racing talent. Luminaries such as Neko Mullaly and Richie Rude come to mind. The ESC North American Downhill Team will keep the competitive pipeline loaded with talent and offer a launching pad for the next generation of young racers. Having a clear path to the highest levels of racing is a huge incentive for young racers. A ten-year-old kid and his parents can now dream big and, with some hard work, make that dream come true.
Every Cat 1 boy and girl that raced at least three ESC downhills last season was invited to participate in the team. The nine team members have been drawn from those ranks and offer unlimited potential. They are all podium threats in their category and their times often place them high in the pro ranks as well. Team members will be criss-crossing the globe this coming season and will the team will be attending every World Cup, except Cairns, Australia, and will also be at every ProGRT, the U.S. National Championships and of course all the Vittoria ESC Atlantic and New England DH races.
The team’s training grounds will be the acclaimed Thunder Mountain Bike Park at Berkshire East ski resort in western Massachusetts. Team members will train and offer instructional clinics during the summer. Danny’s Cycles will provide support at races and a group of parents and industry professionals will guide the team, including George Ulmer, team owner and manager, Sarah Wegiel, Assistant Team Manager, Jeb Wallace-Brodeur, Media Manager and Steve Kahn, technical support and team mechanic.