American Cross-Country Mountain Biker Clinches Historic World Victory
Cross-country mountain biker Kate Courtney’s 2019 season was filled with historic feats. At just 23 years old, she won three individual World Cups during the season and topped all her previous achievements to win the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Her victory made her the first American to do so in 17 years, and the fifth American woman in history to win.
“It’s a battle for this every race. You can’t make a big mistake. You can’t give up. You have to fight for every spot in every race and it’s not over until it’s over,” she told VeloNews.
Courtney’s “greatest victories” began before the 2019 season when she finished the previous year with a win in the 2018 World Championships, another triumph for which Americans had waited almost two decades. She told Odlo that winning the World Championships was “the first glimpse that it might be possible for me to ride at the front of the women’s elite field.”
Courtney commenced her exemplary year with a win at the first World Cup of 2019 in Albstadt, Germany. Her first-place finish was a monumental win for her and her Scott-SRAM MTB team, as it was yet another accomplishment that had eluded Americans for two decades since Dunlap had won the same World Cup in 1999.
Throughout the beginning of the race, Courtney stayed close behind Jolanda Neff of Switzerland, whom she eventually broke away from after the race’s second climb. Rainy conditions the day before caused Courtney to crash near the end of the race, but she kept her composure and sped her way to victory.
“Crossing the finish line, I could finally sit up and be proud of my ride and of achieving one of my biggest goals,” she told Bicycling magazine.
Courtney’s dominance in the elite field continued throughout the season; she won three out of the first four World Cups in 2019. However, to grasp the overall World Cup title, Courtney needed only a fifth-place finish at the Cross-Country World Cup in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Courtney was again in competition with Neff, who entered the event leading the overall standings, but Courtney’s fifth-place result was far enough ahead of Neff to secure her the title.
Courtney doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Her ambitions include winning an Olympic medal and adding more World Cup and World Championship titles to her name.
With this overall World Cup win, Courtney became the fifth American ever to claim the title, but she is not done setting goals for herself yet. She told Red Bull her ambitions include winning an Olympic medal and accumulating more World Cup and World Championship titles.
For Courtney, her first overall World Cup title is only the beginning of what is already an illustrious career.
“It’s not one year or one day of hard work. It’s about years and years of working on making improvements,” she told Bicycling magazine. “My nutritionist always says that performance is like pounding a rock with another rock. When the rock breaks, it wasn’t because of that single hit, it was because of the thousands before that. That’s how it is in bike racing. You have to keep showing up. When the rock does break, it looks like this magical thing you did one day, but really, it was the accumulation of many, many things that you did differently.”