The local ladies are nipping at the podium every year…Will 2012 be the breakthrough?

In 2011, Traverse City native Johanna Schmidt hopped into 6th place with the ride of her life. After an exciting fall of mountain biking in the state, there are more than a few names that look ready to vault up into the top ten, and perhaps even take a podium.

Sue Stephens, Quiring Cycles. If this race was held in early October, Stephens would be the no-brainer local pick. She dominated at both the Battle at the Burg and Crybaby Classic and looked a shoo-in for the Peak2Peak title. It took an on-form Mackenzie Woodring and Mother Nature’s fury to derail her at Crystal, and even then she was second place going away. In 2012, she’ll have to hold on in the wide open straights and dominate the singletrack if she’d like to move up from last year’s 8th place.

Mackenzie Woodring, Einstein Racing. Admittedly, the 2011 Iceman Cometh wasn’t Mackenzie’s best day on a bike. 2012, however, has been a season of outstanding results, including the CAT 1 State Road Race Championship at the Cherry-Roubaix. Her demonstrative efforts at Peak2Peak shook the heads of Stephens and her teammate, Erin Vicary. Heading into the Iceman, she’s become the local favorite and the most marked woman outside the likes of Batty, Irmiger and Woodruff. But mark her all you want, you still have to catch her when she puts the power down.

Susan Vigland, Hagerty Cycling. Susan’s 11th place last year went almost unnoticed, but her 1:55 time would have put her in the top ten in most men’s races and would have given her the win in every Women’s age group by over five minutes. She had an outstanding road season in 2012 but has skipped most of the fall races in favor of a strict, focused Iceman training regimen. She’s an outsider and a bit of an enigma, but there are advantages in being under the radar.

Johanna Schmidt, Einstein Racing. Her 6th place in 2011 was a breakthrough for local riders, and is the best result in the race since national Pros started making the trip. Schmidt has been focused on the Iceman since taking a second place in the State Road Race Championships behind teammate Woodring and just inches ahead of Vigland and Amy Stauffer. Her fall season has been up and down, with solid rides at the Burg and a great second at Crybaby before a tough Peak2Peak outing in mid-October. She pulled off after one lap, three crashes and a thrashed bike put her well out the back. She’ll be looking to confirm herself as a favorite and the second part of a 1-2 punch alongside Woodring.

Lauri Brockmiller, Hagerty Cycling. Like her teammate Vigland, Lauri is an enigma after skipping the fall events to prepare for Iceman. Her road results should also be thrown out the window; she rode selflessly in support of her teammate all year and will be on nearly equal footing this weekend, with the full green light to ride for her own glory when the race breaks up. Hagerty’s top two women won’t draw too much attention if they make all the selections and are lingering close near the end, but that may be exactly what they are hoping for.