Athlete of the Year Winner
In a COVID-hit year, athletes had fewer chances than ever to show their pace this year. They also had to adapt to constantly shifting sands as the global situation evolved day by day. No more could athletes rely on their well-honed routines instead it was about adapting, sometimes on the fly, to alien conditions. In the end, the entire racing season was over in a matter of weeks as a flurry of races came and went in quick succession in the fall.
While we were impressed with all the riders who conquered more than just their competitors this year, the 2020 Athlete of the Year award goes to...
Why she's the winner
For Marine Cabirou, it was a case of when, not if, she would win the women's overall World Cup title. She lost it on the last run of the last race year but this year she staked her claim on that jersey from the get-go.
After already battling off a pre-season injury and a bout of COVID, Cabirou took the win in Maribor out of the gate and kept that form rolling until the end of the year. She finished the season with two wins and finished second in the races she didn't win, which led to her taking the overall title by 50 points.
During her 2019 breakout performances, there could have been questions about the strength of the field with Myriam Nicole, Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton out with injury but surely they could now be dismissed. Cabirou faced down those established champions while also battling off the younger up-and-comers such as Hoffmann, Balanche and Farina, and truly earned her title as champion. In one of the strongest women's fields in years and with the added pressure of a truncated season, Cabirou was the class of the field and earns her title as Athlete of the Year.