There are four specialties of mountain bike, but only cross-country was added to the Olympic program at Atlanta 1996. Both the men’s and women’s events begin with a mass start of a circuit that is four to six kilometres in length. Riders will do several laps of the circuit so that a race takes one hour 30 minutes to one hour 45 minutes to complete. Cross-country circuits must include a variety of terrain, such as road sections, forest tracks, fields, and gravel paths, as well as significant amounts of climbing and descending.

Catharine Pendrel 2012

Canada’s Olympic History

Canada has won two Olympic mountain bike silver medals, both in the women’s cross-country event. The first came from Alison Sydor, a three-time world champion and nine-time world medallist, in the sport’s Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996. She went on to finish fifth at Sydney 2000 and fourth at Athens 2004. At the latter, she just missed the chance to share the podium with teammate Marie-Hélène Prémont who finished second. Canada’s best result in the men’s event came from three-time Olympian Geoff Kabush who finished eighth at London 2012. Catharine Pendrel was the sole medallist at Rio 2016 as she captured bronze in the women’s cross country event.