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American Kate Courtney reflects on the joy of her season spent wearing the rainbow jersey, which she says served as "a symbol of possibility"
On September 8, 2018, during her first year as an elite racer, 23-year-old Kate Courtney won the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, ending a 17-year gold medal drought for the United States. Reflecting on her win, Courtney noticed a shift in her interactions with fans-particularly male fans.
Excitement, joy, fear, doubt, and plain-old nervousness - pre-race rituals help channel those emotions into fuel for the fire. Kate Courtney shares the carefully choreographed dance that helps her arrive at the start line calm and confident so that she's ready to rise to the challenge.
"Already, the lessons I have learned from overcoming a small setback are making me a better bike racer. I learned to let go of expectations and, with them, limitations. After all, it is not in perfection, but in those moments of messy uncertainty that you leave room for a little bit of magic and grace."
Eating is one of the most important parts of being an athlete and can be a source of either great joy or distress. Recognizing the challenges in managing body image and nutrition as a female in an endurance sport allows for a real conversation and response.
Progress happens outside of your comfort zone. That was the phrase I repeated to myself again and again as I lined up for the Whiskey 50 marathon mountain-bike race last season. As a cross-country racer, my experience is primarily in shorter distances and races that last no more than two hours.
As January comes to a close, it's a good time to reconsider New Year's resolutions. As Kate Courtney writes, it's a good time to do away with them altogether and consider focusing on habits you can control, approaching your goals with rituals instead.
After disappointment at the 2016 World Championships, Kate Courtney focused on the mental aspects of racing, and put this skill to use at the 2017 Worlds.
American Kate Courtney graduated from Stanford University in June 2017 with a bachelor's degree in human biology. A month later, she won her first U.S. national elite cross-country title in Snowshoe, West Virginia. She won three U23 World Cup events in 2017, clinching the series title.