Kate Courtney Wins MTB World Championships in Switzerland

Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool - Red Bull Content Pool
Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool - Red Bull Content Pool

From Bicycling

Kate Courtney may only be 22 years old, but the young mountain bike racer showed her prowess and technical expertise at the mountain bike world championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Saturday. After a fierce battle between Courtney and Annika Langvad of Denmark and Emily Batty of Canada, a strong last-lap move put Courtney in the winning position.

“Very special day bringing the [World Champion] stripes back to America,” Courtney wrote on Instagram.

Her gold medal in a time of 1:34:55 made her the first American world champion since Alison Dunlap in 2001. It also makes Courtney the fourth American woman to ever win the title.

In the 67-rider field, Courtney was trailing her Specialized teammate, Langvad, for much of the race after dropping Batty midway through. (Watch the full race here.)

Until the penultimate lap of the race, it appeared that Langvad had the win on lock with a 30-plus second gap on Courtney in second. But Courtney surprised the crowd-and race announcers-when she surged and made contact as the two headed into the final lap of the race.

Langvad attacked on a steep uphill and appeared to drop a suffering Courtney, but the American countered in the technical, rooted section of the course. As Langvad had a minor bobble, Courtney again surged, and this time, she dropped her only real competitor.

She sailed into the finishing stretch with a 47 second lead, and crossed the line jubilant with a time of , immediately screeching to a halt to hug her parents across the barricades. She later told interviewers at the race that her win hadn’t sunk in yet.

“To look up at the finish and realize I was the first one was an incredible feeling,” the recent Stanford human biology grad said in a postrace interview with Red Bull TV. “It really capped off a great first year in the elite season.”

Often, moving up from the under-23 field into the elite ranks can be difficult, but for Courtney, it clearly has only fueled her racing. She was second in U23 World Championships last year, and this season, she took the elite win at U.S. MTB Nationals.

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