HAYDEN – In the world of downhill mountain biking, Ella Erickson is quickly ascending in the sport based on how quickly she descends.
The courses she conquers are filled with roots, rocks, jumps, tight turns and narrow single tracks that wind through the trees. Ella made it look easy and Team USA took notice.
“I was one of four women selected to represent the United States in world championships this year, which is in Les Gets, France,” Erickson said. “I was super excited because there’s a lot of us, especially from the US, like pro riders, that are competing for those spots and I was super stoked because not a lot of first-year, elite riders get selected for that. So, it was a big honor. “
This Sunday, Erickson packed her bags and her bike and boarded a flight for France. This coming Sunday, she’ll race against the world’s top riders. It’s an opportunity the young rider has been working toward for nearly half of her life by lei.
“I’ve been riding bikes pretty much my whole life,” Erickson said. “I started racing downhill when I was 11 years old. My first race was at Silver Mountain.”
Silver Mountain is Ella’s home course and a place she’s also been trying to grow the sport. This year, Ella started “Women’s Rides,” a quick call-out on her social media to anyone who wants to learn about riding and hone their skills. It’s her way di lei to get more female riders in the sport she loves.
“No, there’s definitely not many females at all,” Erickson said. “Most of the time, I ride with guys and I actually host ‘Women’s Rides’ at Silver Mountain, which has been awesome this year. This first one is I actually got about 40 women of all ages and skill levels together. So, It’s been great to get more people into the sport because I love sharing the passion with them. ”
That passion will be on full display this weekend. The downhill riders start in intervals, usually 30 seconds to 1 minute apart. The goal is simple: to complete the roughly 3-minute course faster than your competitors. Mistakes are costly, crashes happen and wins are hard-earned.
“You have to be super focused for like three minutes and you have to make sure you hit all of your lines because if you mess up just slightly, it could be the difference between getting 1st and 20th, even if it’s just a couple seconds, “Erickson said.
At 19 years old, Erickson’s already exceeded many expectations. She’s proven herself as one of the best female riders in the northwest – and the country.
On Sunday, she’ll test herself against the best in the world.
“This is my first year as an elite racer, so it would be sick to get like in the top 20,” Erickson said.
If you’re wondering how to watch Ella, the downhill world championships will be broadcast on Red Bull TV. And, one other note: while Ella’s sponsors pay for her bike di lei and all the components di lei, she and her family di lei have to pay for all of her travel di lei, which as you might imagine, is costly.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page to help with some of those travel expenses.
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