Vali Höll is prodigously talented, she's already won the downhiill junior Worlds and World Champs and signed for Red Bull

Vali Höll is prodigously talented, she’s already won the downhiill junior Worlds and World Champs and signed for Red Bull.

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Pic: Isac Paddock

Vali Holl: “We are dropping in… or are we? 2020 was, and still is, such a weird year. I recently went on a production shoot with YT Industries – I would have never dreamt that the last time wearing my junior world champs jersey would be during a shoot at home. The picture above more or less sums up the year so far… no matter how hard you look, you can’t really see where you are heading. A year of uncertainty, but also hope.

“Back in March when the World Cup in Lousã was cancelled I was a bit relieved, to be honest. It being my last year at school, I had a lot on my plate trying to balance A-levels and preparation for my first elite World Cup. I was very nervous about my first appearance on the big stage and racing against the likes of Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave this year. Due to schoolwork and the winter I had only had a few weeks on the bike. So, I didn’t feel quite ready yet, and back then we all expected the World Cup to commence in April or May.

“However, the relief was short-lived, and it was disappointing to see World Cup after World Cup scratched off the calendar. I would have missed two rounds anyway while doing my A-levels but was so looking forward to giving it all I had in the remaining races. As time wore on I was able to concentrate on school, but I didn’t do that much more learning… hahaha. I did a lot of pedalling on my Jeffsy on local trails with my mum. I still got great grades and graduated from my sports school here in Saalfelden, which is 20 minutes away from Leogang. The weekend after my last exam Bikepark Leogang opened; the best reward I could have hoped for.

“Since then it has been a waiting game filled with productions for partners that helped take my mind of everything else. Come to think of it I haven’t really had a day off since June. Now, we all look ahead in hope of witnessing some meaningful racing. The World Championships in Leogang would mean added pressure, but after a year of waiting to finally race against great competition, I sincerely hope we will all be able to meet again at the start gate. Normally our season would have ended now, but we are back at it and preparing for maybe the biggest race of the year. It is a challenge mentally.

“That being said, I consider myself lucky, look ahead, and try to find some positives in the whole situation. I hope things will return to normal soon. I think we will be living with Covid-19 for some time still but hope we will find a new kind of normal where everyone’s life returns to a certain state of steadiness. I look forward to being able to travel again, seeing other countries and also trails. In a way though, this strange period has also helped to rediscover the trails and nature on your doorstep as places of wonder and excitement too. While being reminded about what is most important in life; health, friends, and family.

“Here’s to plenty of hours on the bike in the future.”