Haley Batten has punched her ticket to the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. The budding mountain bike superstar and Park City native met USA Cycling’s automatic qualifying criteria after finishing in second place at the Nové Mesto XCO World Cup race on Sunday, May 16. This followed Batten’s win in the short-track cross-country mountain bike race two days earlier and a third-place finish in the World Cup XCO race at the season’s first race in Albstadt, Germany.
Batten has skyrocketed up the rankings as a first-year elite racer with two consecutive podium finishes against the world’s best, but her Under-23 XCO National Championship in 2017 and her Under-23 XCO gold medal at the Pan American Championships in 2019 foreshadowed what the Parkite could achieve. “I honestly didn’t know what I was capable of. So to start the season like this is pretty incredible,” she told Cycling News following the Nové Mesto event. Joining Batten on the U.S. squad is former World Champion Kate Courtney who has also shown strong form to begin the 2021 season with a fourth place in Albstadt. The U.S. Women are a force to be reckoned with as the Olympics approach.
Park City athletes are no strangers to Olympic success, with the likes of Ted Ligety, Joss Christensen, Sage Kotsenburg and more winning gold medals in prior years. Unlike those names, however, Batten will be competing for hardware on sweltering ribbons of dirt singletrack instead of snow-covered slopes. There is also one spot up for grabs on the men’s side, with another Utah local, Keegan Swenson, vying for a spot in Tokyo. Undoubtedly, growing up in a cycling-obsessed community with an endless supply of trails has prepared these Beehive State riders for the world stage.
The final Olympic Team will be announced on June 10, and hopefully we can add Swenson to the list of Utah-based athletes who will be representing the United States. Until then, we’ll keep track of Batten as she makes Park City and all of Utah proud battling at the top of the World Cup standings.