The best women's downhill racer in mountain bike history

In the world of women’s downhill mountain biking, Anne-Caroline Chausson is widely recognized as the “GOAT”— the Greatest Of All Time. This female French superstar, now 46 (b. October 8, 1977) won nine Senior Women’s Downhill World Championships: 1996, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005.

 Anne-Caroline is shown here in August of 2001, at Mt. Snow, Vermont, where she won the NORBA National Downhill Finals in the Pro Women’s class, with Leigh Donovan finishing second, more than 5 seconds behind her, and Missy Giove placing third, more than seven seconds behind Chausson. A week later, at the World Cup finals at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Anne-Caroline smashed her rear brake rotor on a rock during the Women’s Downhill Final, and she wasn’t able to finish the race, getting a DNF in the event, but still winning the overall title for 2001 in the Elite Women’s Downhill rankings. Sabrina Jonnier won the Elite Women’s Downhill at Mont-Sainte-Anne in that event, with Fionn Griffiths placing second, Marielle Saner taking third, Missy Giove finishing fourth, Katja Repo taking fifth, Leigh Donovan placing sixth, and Marla Streb placing seventh out of the 30 women in the finals. (Photo by John Ker/Mountain Bike Action, who saved the results sheets from those races in the MBA photo files)

On top of that record, Anne-Caroline also won five consecutive Senior Women’s Downhill World Cup titles in the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.


Before beginning her Senior Women’s Downhill career, Anne-Caroline also won three Junior Women’s Downhill World Championship titles.

When she won her third Junior Women’s World Championship title, at the 1994 World Championships, Chausson’s winning time in the Junior Women’s division was more than 30 seconds faster than her closest competitor in that class.  What’s more, Chausson’s winning time in the Junior Women’s class was also 1.95 seconds faster than the winning time in the Senior Women’s Downhill Final, the time achieved by Missy Giove. In MBA’s report on the ’94 World Championship, we reported how Anne-Caroline told us how disappointed she was that the officials wouldn’t let her race against the Senior Women because she knew that she was faster than Missy Giove.


Once she was in the Elite Women’s ranks, Anne-Caroline’s race times often compared fairly well to the Senior Men’s times. She’d often record faster times than a good number of the Elite Men in the World Cup races. The pro downhill men actually used to joke about it by saying that they got “girled” by Anne-Caroline when her time was better than theirs in a race.

“Anne-Caro,” as her friends knew her, still wasn’t as fast as the top Senior Men, though. At the aforementioned 1994 World Championships, Chausson’s downhill time in the finals was roughly 34 seconds slower than the winning time among the Senior Men, set by Francois Gachet (a.k.a. “Inspector Gadget”). Much like Missy Giove’s result, Gachet’s winning time in the race was beat by the Junior Men’s winner that year, Nicolas Vouilloz, who would later go on to win seven Senior Men’s Downhill World Championships and five World Cup Downhill titles in the years that followed, setting the record for the most Elite Men’s UCI Downhill titles in history.

Getting back to Chausson, before becoming a downhill mountain bike racer, Anne-Caroline had also been a BMX world champion.

Chausson went back to racing BMX again after winning her last UCI downhill titles so that she could get ready to compete in the debut of BMX in the 2008 Olympics. Her strategy worked. Anne-Caroline won the gold medal in the first women’s Olympic BMX competition, which was held in Beijing, China, in 2008.

Considering that the women’s event was held before the men’s event, and since Chausson crossed the finish line first, Anne-Caroline gets credit for winning the first Olympic medal in BMX history.


Below are some of the photos that Anne-Caroline has shared on Instagram and Facebook in the last few years.

Above: Here’s a photo Anne-Caroline shared on her Instagram page in 2021, showing herself holding the Olympic gold medal in BMX she won 13 years earlier, at the 2008 Olympics.

Above: Here’s a shot that Anne-Caroline shared on Instagram of herself in October of 2021.

Above: Here’s a photo of Anne-Caroline riding a downhill bike that she shared on Instagram in 2020. Chausson is as an ambassador for the French mountain bike company, Commencal.

Above: Here are some of the gold medals that Anne-Caroline Chausson won during her racing career. She shared this photo on her Instagram page in 2020. Her Olympic gold medal from BMX is the big one at the bottom-center of the picture, the one with the red ribbon from the 2008 Beijing Olympics attached to it.

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