Interview: Austrian Downhill Sensation Valentina ‘Vali’ Höll
that I ride World Cup or that it is that serious to be honest. Slowly they kind of recognize it because it is way more in the media and more people talk about me at home. Now they know what I do.
Does it help you stay more grounded and calm?
For sure it helped me that not everyone knew that I just won a World Cup because it would have been a little bit weird but at the same time in school it would be tough because you come home Sunday night from a race or even a long overseas flight and the next day you are in school nobody knows that you have been at the end of the world or that you are tired maybe or hurt because you crashed all the time so both sides were good and bad.
If you compare school and World Cup racing, what is more nerve-wracking?
For me, definitely, World Cup racing because I guess I put way more hard work to give my very best and in school I never really learned a lot because I was a bit lazy. The results were still good, but I didn’t really care if it was good or bad.
Growing up, who was your inspiration?
At the beginning, it was my godmother Angie Hohenwarter because she is also a bike pro and she taught me not just on the bike but all the business like getting sponsors – how to talk to them and how to present yourself. That helped me a lot. When I discovered racing, for sure, Rachel Atherton. She is awesome.
She sent you a lengthy message. What did she say?
I got an email from her. They wanted to have me in the team. Two months before I got a contract from YT, which was for six years, so it was quite difficult to jump to another team at that time. I was super young. It was weird that so many people were interested in me because I didn’t know why or what they would expect from me doing something crazy. I was pretty lucky to get a deal with YT, which is still going on and I am pretty happy about those long relationships.
Is it true you used to ruin your chance in races because you used to stop for photographs?
There was my very first bike race when I was three years old. I didn’t know how races work and I didn’t know that cameras could take photos when you are moving so every time there was a photographer I stopped and I was posing then I kept on pedaling and then I stopped again. I was last, but every child got a medal, so I was not sad about it.
Are there any new changes on your bike?
We tested way more this year. As I am getting older, I am more interested in it too. I want to get my bike as fast as possible. Also, as I am trying to be as fast and as fit as possible. It is definitely a part of it and even if it is hard to understand how it goes – I guess for everyone – for sure I am testing way more and trying stuff even if it is bad you know it was fast.
Can you describe your feeling when the clock starts ticking again on a race run?
To be honest, I don’t like the feeling I have before the start. I feel so sick, it feels like…