Posted by Editoress on 11/16/12
Yesterday, a broadcast e-mail from Dave Shishkoff (of the Cross on the Rock - CotR - series organization) started a bit of a firestorm regarding prize money for the Cyclo-cross Nationals on Saturday and UCI race on Sunday. Some websites published the statements he made that Nationals organizer Kevin MacCuish was refusing extra funds for prize money; we said that we would not do so until we had had a chance to hear from MacCuish. Which we now have and, as you might suspect, the situation is not black and white...
To provide an overview: The Nationals organizer was not originally intending to provide cash prizes at the Championship Elite races on Saturday; they are not required by regulation, and funds were tight. They were also going to provide the UCI minimum prize list for a C2 category event to be held on Sunday - 25 deep for men and 15 deep for women (and not equal in the amounts awarded for placings).
The Cross on the Rock group felt that it was important for prizes to be awarded at Nationals, and that the prize lists should be equal (for example, 12th should get the same amount for men and women), so they started to raise funds to address the situation. This is an admirable goal, and they raised an impressive $2100 (at last count) through their own races and through other events held by other organizers.
While this was happening, the Nationals organizers received an infusion of sponsorship funding, and decided to offer three-deep prizes at the Nationals (equal for men and women) and, for the first third of the women's field in the (Sunday) C2 race provide equal prize monies. This meant that, if there were 18 women in the race, the first six would be paid at the same level as the men.
According to MacCuish, the decision was made when there were only 13 women registered, so if they offered equal prize money down to 15-deep then riders would get a pay day for literally just showing up, which didn't seem appropriate. The organizer would accept the donation, with thanks, but said that they would determine how it would be distributed.
Then the infamous e-mail, with the header: Cycling BC Turns Down Prize Money Donations and Denies Equal Distribution For Canadian Cyclocross National Championships
According to the e-mail, MacCuish had effectively washed his hands of the whole situation, and told the donors that he would not accept their money, stating: "Ok, whatever. We're not accepting the money. If you'd like to spend the day hanging around the finish line handing out cash, go right ahead ... just don't get in the way of the photographers."
So, when we arrived in Surrey, at the site of the Nationals, the first thing we did was go and look up Kevin MacCuish and basically ask "What the heck is going on?"
MacCuish explained that the e-mail took statements he made out of context. "We (he and Norm Thibault of CotR) had been e-mailing back and forth for a few weeks, trying to work things out. We would definitely like to have used the additional funds for the prize purse, but we made it clear, that as the organizer we had to have final say on how it would be distributed. I wasn't prepared to say equal prizes for a small field [of women], because it wasn't appropriate."
He admitted that he was getting frustrated towards the end of this week, and basically closed off the conversation, saying that they (the organizers) could not agree to CotR's demands.
However, with registration closed, it looks like the women's field has grown substantially, and that the organizer will be making an announcement shortly to the effect that equal prize purses will be offered for men and women at Sunday's C2 race (15-deep). The money will come from the organizer, not from CotR; discussions are ongoing as to how that money will be incorporated into the event.
At this time, the prize purse for the National Championship races on Saturday will remain three deep (and equal).
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