After Catherine Pendrel showed up in 2011 in the World Champion’s jersey, the women’s race got even hotter. 

And by hotter, look no further than Emily Batty, Georgia Gould, Judy Freeman and a whole slew of others. The most entertaining race of the whole darn Iceman, this year’s Women’s field is one of the best to ever show up in Kalkaska for the nation’s largest one-day bike race.

The local women will get a look later, but here are five National (and international) women to mark for this Saturday’s race.

Emily Batty, TREK World Racing. The unofficial (okay, she’s the official) Dream Woman of kolo t.c., she had the season dreams are made of heading into the Olympics. After a career best second place World Cup at Houffalize and steady top-ten finishes all the way into mid-summer. She was a popular pick for a medal in London, and she’d said for two years that the Olympics were her life goal. But before the race, a crash broke her collarbone with almost no time to recover before the mountain bike start. She raced anyway, taped up and in pain. Batty has become an outspoken advocate for cycling in Canada and is crucial for the sport’s success in North America. Watch for the pearls to be in position to win as she returns to top form.

Georgia Gould, Team Luna Chix. No American woman has had a year like Georgia Gould. The Team Luna Chix rider was in such great form that she had assured herself of an Olympic spot by May. Her heartbreak scenes at both North American stops, where mechanicals robbed her of wins while she watched teammates ride past. Her season was saved by both US National Championship wins and a bronze medal at the Olympics. She rode well into cyclocross season and will be coming into the Iceman on some well-deserved rest after a long season.

Heather Irmiger, Subaru TREK. The 2011 Champion is back. A SS champion, a XC National Champ and Marathon National Champion, there are few women’s riders with the palmares of the incomparable  Irmiger. Her 2011 Iceman win was no shocker, and she was a top favorite in 2010 before a mechanical took her out. This year, she’ll be marked closely and will have to contend with myriad threats from local riders as well. It might all end up on how united Batty and Irmiger ride if conditions are fast and the group stays together for most of the day.

Judy Freeman, Crank Bros. The Queen of the Short Track might feel at home on the fast, flat Iceman course. She’s been around the US MTB scene for a long time and has the results to confirm her status as one of the best in the country. In 2011, she placed 6th at the US Championships just after a 7th on the short track. While she deserves to be a household name, she won’t mind being under the radar heading into a wide-open Iceman. She’s fresh off racing XC and Short Track in China, so she might actually be the most race-ready.

Chloe Woodruff, Race Club 11. Last year, Woodruff was this close to a glorious Iceman win. A second place is no small achievement, but for a rider of Woodruff’s quality, first is always the mission. A fixture on the US National scene, the Tuscon resident handles the cold pretty darn well. She’s enjoyed success on the short track and in cross country events, including a 4th overall in the Pro XCT in 2011 in her break out season. Woodruff will be a contender again this season, and her riding style suits the Iceman course very well. If it comes down to a sprint again, only Irmiger can be said to have an edge, and that may have just been a matter of superior reconnaissance.