What’s your very first memory of being on a bike?

Vali: I rode my very first bike race at the age of three, here in Hinterglemm. I came last by a long way because I stopped at every photographer and waited until my picture had been taken. But I got a medal at the end anyway.

What were the early days of your career like for you as a woman in downhilling?

Vali: Way back when, I often rode with the boys simply because there were few women in my sport. And that also helped me to become a really good mountain biker.

Has the sport become more competitive?

Vali: Yes, definitely; there’s never been as many good women bikers as now. You used to be able to win a race six seconds up on the others. At the last race in Leger, we top four were only 1.6 seconds apart. That’s a real change in things.

My dream is that many more young girls ride downhill races.
Valentina Höll

In 2020 you tore the ligaments in your foot in a crash. Did that change things for you?

Vali: The crash taught me more respect, and I now think more carefully about what line to take, gauge the risks better. It was a good thing I crashed because otherwise I’d really have hit the wall at some point.


How do you handle fear when downhilling?

Vali: There are plenty of exercises in respecting the downhills. For example, you can try and visualize your own feelings and thus enter the tunnel. And your favorite song can help here, or your favorite color, in the form, for instance, of a piece of tape on your bike.


What do you still want to achieve in your mountain-bike career?

Vali: My dream is that many more young girls ride downhill races. I often drop by the bike clubs or go for a ride with a few girls if I happen to be in the vicinity. At some point, some of them may end up faster than me, and then I can say: I’ve already ridden with them, I inspired them.

Valentina Höll doing a no-hander during the UCI downhill worldcup in Val di Sole