USA Cycling on Downhill Ride as Olympics Near

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In recent years, USA Cycling has faced several challenges, including aging athletes, declining membership and disconnect between amateur and elite riders, according to Seattle Pi.

With the 2016 Summer Olympics nearing, USA Cycling needs to “adapt as an organization,” says CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall. After much examination, Bouchard-Hall has three approaches to hopefully spin the wheels back into place..

First, he plans to shift the heavy focus on elite athletes to amateur cycling. Currently, USA Cycling directs most of its resources to the elites, but Bouchard-Hall hopes that by dispersing them, they will be seen as equally important, and can even help each other grow.

“People say, ‘Where do you put your efforts, the amateurs or the elite?’ The answer is both,” he explains. “This is a balance that all national governing bodies in America face.”

He also wants to broaden the coverage of USA Cycling to capture the “everyday cyclist.” One example is to cover events such as RAGBRAI, the bike ride across Iowa currently taking place, that attracts cyclists with different abilities from all over the country. These sorts of races have grown exponentially recently, and Bouchard-Hall thinks that coverage will raise more awareness of the sport.

The Rio Olympics can be a good start for more extensive coverage on cycling; although NBC will focus on the more popular sports, just having any sort of biking visibility will be beneficial.

Lastly, Bouchard-Hall wants the organization to become more open with the customers, accepting more feedback and building an athlete-fan relationship.

While many questioned how Bouchard-Hall’s plans may affect funding, an issue USA Cycling faces every day, he also plans to increase fundraising and sponsorship plans. He also encouraged this plan is focusing on the long-term, meaning all athletes will benefit.

Currently, USA Cycling receives support from the U.S. Olympic Committee based on success at competitions, but recent reports say that sports like shooting, rowing and sailing have received more money than cycling lately.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.