More Michael Jordans, please

Watching mountain biking, wondering what it takes for people to fly

BY HENRY ABBOTT

19-year-old Vali Höll grew up in a mountain bike park—the family business—and you can tell. Her full-on riding style made her not just a junior world champion, but an icon of fearlessness. (In quarantine, she starred in a Red Bull video with YouTube biking legend Fabio Wibmer.) Mountain biking isn’t awash in cash—riders with impact outside the sport are essential. She is already becoming a hashtag. 

The UCI is the sports’ organizing body; Höll has been ranked on the edge of their top ten. 2020 looked to change that. As luck would have it, the world downhill mountain bike championships were scheduled for Leogang, not far from her home in Austria. When the event was postponed because of the pandemic, Höll used the time to learn the course even better. There are photos of Höll with an umbrella walking the course while a coach uses a laser pointer to identify the fastest line. 

On Friday, October 9, she cleared her throat, as it were, in the qualifying runs that determine who…

This post is for paying subscribers