Note & Disclaimer: Anna Schwinn and Nicole Mertz are both Minnesota-based contributors to Cyclocross Magazine. Schwinn conducted the interview of 1999 Cyclocross Junior World Champion Matt Kelly which was the basis for our heralded, must-read feature on the forgotten American in our Issue 31. Mertz, the 2016 Singlespeed Cyclocross National Champion has led design efforts for many of our articles in recent print issues.
Despite these connections, we still objectively think Schwinn’s interview of Mertz about her social media comment and the ensuing lost of race sponsorship is a story worth sharing on its own merit, and have some excerpts from the full piece on the site Pretty. Dammed. Fast., below.
Mertz made the following Facebook comment after seeing the ToADiumgirls Instagram account and its profiles of the women who lined the men’s podiums:
Explaining the situation to Schwinn, Mertz said:
I really don’t have anything against the podium girls themselves. I don’t care if you want to do that. If this is how you can support cycling or how you want to get involved, fine. That’s not what I was bringing up.
They were highlighting the podium girls instead of the racers who spend a ton of time and money to train and travel – you sacrifice tons of time around your friends and family, you know? Meanwhile, the podium girls are standing on a stage and they’re getting all this stuff written about them.
This coming from a race that has always talked about how much they support women’s cycling. I just commented on my Facebook page that, you know, they should be talking about the women racing rather than the women there giving awards to the men.
Yeah. Again, the podium girls- I’m not trying to attack them or anything. It’s great that they want to help out – But there is no reason that they should be getting more attention than the women racing.
Mertz wasn’t the only one to express disappointment about the prioritization of coverage on the podium women over the women athletes, but her comment had consequences that impacted her upcoming cyclocross season as well as her sponsors (who are associated with the Tour of America’s Dairyland). She explained to Schwinn:
When I got home a few days later, I got an email that said the board of directors has voted and decided to not sponsor individual riders. If you have any questions, contact us. Good luck with your cyclocross season.
I was like, alright, I think it’s unprofessional and rude of you to just tell me this now. You could have done this a long time ago.
Ten minutes later, they called back and were like, and I’m paraphrasing, “We just wanted to clarify something. Actually, this was because of a comment that was made during Tour of America’s Dairyland by you. You were bad-mouthing the race promoters. You signed a contract saying you wouldn’t say anything negative about race promoters on social media. You created this shitstorm for us this whole race. We had to work on this the whole race, we had to fix this shitstorm. Everyone was pissed. There was all this negative feedback.”
Despite this surprise, last-minute negative, stressful situation, it appears that there might be a happy ending in sight, thanks to the efforts of folks like Schwinn and the Minnesota racing community, and they’ve supported Mertz in ensuring she still has a chance to chase some UCI racing this cyclocross season. Mertz explained:
I was just mind blown. When we had a meeting, they had it all planned. And Podiumwear jumped on board right away as my apparel sponsor. We’ll see what happens, but all I can say is that I am so thankful for all the support I’ve received from Minneapolis and cyclists who feel the same way as I do.
Read Schwinn’s entire interview of Mertz here. It’s worth your time, and food for thought.