Another livestream episode breakdown of our #Ride2Unite series is here! It was born out of our desire to uplift, entertain and connect the cycling community. This time we had a chance to talk with mountain bike racer Jenny Rissveds. You showed so much love and support for her during the stream that we didn’t even manage to get through all your questions. Here are the highlights.
Jenny is one of Sweden’s most talented mountain bikers. She’s had many impressive results in her career, but 2016 stands out. She won the gold medal in the under-23 mountain bike race at the World Championships, she won gold in a World Cup race in Lenzerheide, and also won the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in Women’s cross-country. She was battling depression and eating disorder in the following years, but managed to overcome those and return strong with World Cup win in Lenzerheide in 2019. Now she has her own cycling team and a new perspective on racing.
When asked about her life in quarantine, Jenny said that most of the time she’s been alone and it hasn’t been a big change for her. “The biggest difference in terms of training is that we are not travelling. We were supposed to go to Sierra Nevada for a high-altitude training camp. But I just trained here at home in Sweden instead. I’m training, I’m with my dog or my boyfriend at home. So, not that much is different in my day-to-day life. There are more people out in the woods where I’m training. Before covid I used to be alone in the woods. I’m happy about that.”
Laura asked Jenny about her goals for this year in cycling, and Jenny gave a very clear answer. The past year was the year she returned to racing and her goals were to get back to where she started. “Most kids get into sports because it’s fun and that’s what I wanted to get back to. And the plan for this year was to continue on that path and do the same with my own team. And also, to get more experience having my own team. And learn to race in a way that’s not only about results.”
After this it was pretty much only questions from you, the fans. Here are some of the most interesting ones.
Are you going to be in the Olympics in 2021 and how do you feel about them being postponed a year?
Yeah, if we are qualified and I’m healthy, I’m going to participate. I’m trying to focus more on the journey, not only on one big goal. So, I look at the Olympics being moved as any other race being moved, it’s not that tough for me.
Are you planning to do more events with kids?
They announced the World Cup schedule for September, so the events with kids are paused for now. But we will do more of them later this year after this short cycling season is over. One advantage of the covid situation was that we were able to do more events for kids in the past month, which we would normally not have time for in the middle of a season.
What did you learn in your 2019 season?
The biggest surprise to me was that I could come back to the same level of racing as before, after my depression, eating disorder and everything I went through. That was a big thing for me to keep for the future. That it is possible. My confidence and motivation this year is a little bit better because of last season. I proved to myself that I can ride fast.
How do you cope with stress during a competition?
I try to get to where I started, which was having fun end enjoying riding. I talked a lot with my boyfriend before the wWorld Cup in Andorra 2019 because I was really nervous. I told him I can’t do this. He told me: “You love to ride your mountain bike on trails and you love to ride fast. Here is a trail and you are going to ride as fast as you can on it.” And that was amazing to me. It was totally right, that’s why I was there. When I’m there, nervous and stressed about racing, I think back to this.
Why did you decide to go for mountain biking instead of road biking?
I thought it was more fun to ride a mountain bike. Mountain biking was more challenging to me, which I also liked. In my opinion, it goes faster and it’s a little bit more of an adventure.
What would you do if you weren’t a cyclist?
I love animals so I think I would be working with them somehow. But also, after the period of mental illness I’ve been through, I became very interested in the brain and psychology. So, maybe a I will become a therapist in the future.