Interview: Emmeline Ragot

Dec 4, 2014
by Lauren Jenkins  
Emmeline Ragot getting warmed up before practice this morning. Ragot looked to be taking it easy on the track in practice today perhaps waiting to lay everything down tomorrow.
Photo: Matthew Delorme

After rumours of her retirement at the end of last season, news of her departure from Lapierre, as well as a suffering a broken hand before World Champs, 2015 wasn't looking particularly optimistic for the French rider. Now, looking forward to the year ahead, Emmeline has signed up with MS Mondraker, a team she rode for back in 2012. Arguably one of the strongest female athletes in downhill, we talk to MS Mondraker's Emmeline Ragot to find out what happened at the end of this season, and how she feels to be going back to the team for 2015.

Looking back at last season, there were rumours of your retirement, is there some truth to this?

Haha, I love rumours, yup maybe it was the truth… I was at the stage of wondering what I should do because I knew since the middle of the season that I would not have another year with Lapierre. I didn’t know if I would find another team because I know how hard it is for a girl to find a team, because they see you for what you are.

Was the decision to end your contract with Lapierre mutual, or was it more one sided?

It was a one sided decision, but I respect their decision. The team LP have a new project… and I’m not on this one so it’s fine. For sure I wish I could stay, I had really great years and we were like a family, but I still like them and wish them luck for the year coming.

Seven World Cup podiums over seven rounds, two wins and third overall (missing out on second by 10 points) in 2014 – one of your best seasons to date, is there something specific you want to achieve before you potentially retire?

Haha I don’t know, I guess I think I would like to get the overall title before I leave. But you know even if this doesn’t happen I will not think of it all my life. I think I did most things that an athlete would like to achieve and I’m really happy about it.

The outcome of the ladies is looking just as hard to guess tomorrow. Ragot took a fall in the woods but still managed 3rd 3.3seconds back.
Photo: Nathan Hughes - Emmeline in Meribel earlier this year.

How do you feel about the 2014 season, what were the highs and lows for you?

I think my high was both wins at the World Cups, and especially Windham. It was a hard race but I enjoyed it lots. The lows for sure was the end of the season with the broken hand, so frustrating when you know you just have to do two more runs before the worlds!

You are arguably one of the strongest female riders on the downhill circuit, how have things changed now there is stronger competition from the likes of Manon and Tahnee?

It’s always good to have the young riders pushing, it’s helping everyone to go forward, and push everyone to perform and go faster - we need riders like that.

Did you approach Mondraker or did they come to you in regards to riding for them next year?

I came to them, because I like the bike and I really liked riding for MS Mondraker three years ago.

How will things work now you’re back on the team, have you agreed to any specific terms or a set number of years?

I’m happy to be back on the team, and about the terms of it, I can’t really tell you, but I want to focus on this year for now, I want to give my best for the team and myself.

Emmeline Ragot s Mondraker Summum pro team bike. Her bike frame is thus far a stock frame there have been no shortcuts on tubing or custom geometry tweaks. Mondraker does put a special custom paint job on each of the team bikes for MS-Monderaker.
Back on Mondraker in 2012, Photo: Colin Meagher

You got four thirds, two second places and a win, getting on podium at all seven rounds of the World Cup in 2012 whilst on Mondraker, do you think you’ll benefit from riding a bike you’re familiar with, what’s your set-up for next season?

I had a good year with the team and Mondraker bike, and I’m happy to ride again with it as I know it will fit me. It’s funny but it’s the kind of bike you just need jump on and it’s like you’ve been riding with it forever. I don’t know lot about the set-up for now but I’ll know soon.

Do you think companies do enough to encourage female riders and offer them sponsorship deals, or is it currently more difficult for women?

I sincerely think its way more difficult for the girls to find real sponsorships, everyone has their own opinion about it and it’s normal, but I don’t want to start a polemic. I’m not here for that, I just want to enjoy it now that’s all.

Do you have any particular rituals before racing, something that helps get you focused?

For sure. I have little rituals before racing I guess like most riders. For example I always put my gloves on before I put my helmet on and… a lot of other things, haha, I may be crazy!

How do you feel about the tracks chosen for the 2015 World Cup?

I think the tracks chosen for next year look awesome, we will have some proper downhill tracks and not too many flat ones so I’m grateful for that. And I’m especially happy about the French round in Lourdes, not many riders (except the Frenchies) know the track, but it’s always been a cool track, so hopefully the people will like it. But one thing I’m not sure I can promise you is that it will be dry weather.

You suffered broken hand at the end of the season which put you out of contention for World Champs, how are you feeling now, is it giving you any trouble?

It was hard to finish the season like that (I’m still a bit sad about it), anyway. I finally end up with four breaks, not too cool. So that kind of ruined my month of holiday, and it has taken more time that we thought - it’s been hard to consolidate. I’m still going to the physiotherapy… but I am hopeful.

Emmeline Ragot went down hard in the top rocks a suffered a broken hand. Sadly she will be watching World Champs from the sidelines tomorrow.
Photo: Dave Trumpore

What is life like for you outside of racing, are you still studying physiotherapy?

It’s weird to come back to reality… yes I’m still studying physiotherapy/rehabilitation, it’s my last year and I need to write a ‘memoire’ (a big dissertation) now that I will give in June to finalize my diploma. It’s completely different to what we are doing during racing time that’s for sure. I’m actually working in a rehabilitation place with sport athletes or people of different pathology and age and it’s really interesting to see how everyone is reacting when faced with an injury, it’s real human learning and I love it. I love to help them to get better and achieve their goals.

What are your plans for the next few years, would you consider trying other disciplines such as enduro or will you focus on a different career?

I don’t know yet what I will do. I maybe would like to ride some enduro, but knowing me I guess I will jump totally on a different career. I may pass on the other side of the racing but stay in as a physio to help riders to perform, who knows!

What have you got planned for off season and how are you feeling about 2015?

Like always, for the off season I’m planning to train, to meet the new team and ride the new bike, meet the other riders and try to fit in lots of studying! I’m feeling good for next season, I know it will be great fun.

Follow Emmeline:

Facebook

Website

Title Image: Dave Trumpore


Mentions: @Emmeline @MarzocchiMTB



Posted In:
Interviews



78 Comments

  • + 165
 We are so very happy to have Emmeline back with us and on Mondraker!
  • + 70
 sponsor more girls.
  • + 35
 great to see more marzocchis in the wc
  • + 26
 Stoked to see some more major rippers on Marzocchi this year.
  • + 11
 So we have an answer about the setup
  • + 19
 We have a good selection of women we sponsor and are very proud to do so. We believe more women need to be part of our sport and when they are, the entire sport and MTB culture will benefit.
  • + 1
 Its funny watching any company's response or press release because it all sounds like the same junk spat from some PR robot. "We're happy to have this person on our team. They're positive for the brand and mtbing as a sport or culture. Positive this, positive that, world peace." Replace this person with any athlete's name and you have every press release/comment ever posted by a company. Its not a bad thing, its just funny seeing all the manufacturers responding the same way, like politicians.

Oh and stoked Emmeline is back for another season! Atherton and her are gonna be pretty epic.
  • + 96
 It pretty sad that one of the Top 3 female athletes in her sport get booted from a team has to approach other teams for sponsorship, we all know that on average girls are not as aggressive and fast as guys (there are exceptions, before someone flames me), but whatever they have the same amount of fun and enjoyment from participating and following the sport, give them riders to follow and inspire them I say.
  • + 32
 There's a market regardless of race times. I'm sure that seeing women shred makes other women want to ride.
  • + 25
 Must say I have been thoroughly enjoying the women's race the last few seasons - think they definitely add a certain flavour to the whole mix - It's what make the world cup circuit so entertaining
  • + 35
 She puts it on the line more than anyone. What a joke that she was thinking of quitting because she couldn't find a sponsor.
  • + 53
 They need to make it compulsory for each team to have a chick rider
  • + 26
 I quite like that idea @slackboy......you think Santa Cruz will try pass Ratboy off as their girl with his flowing locks
  • + 7
 @SlackBoy 100% yes!
  • + 9
 To build on what SlackBoy proposes, US Collegiate bike racing heavily weighs the contribution woman riders - essentially, no matter how strong your men's team is, it is almost impossible to place as a team w/o women riders. Knowing this, teams recruit not only strong woman riders, but also athletes from other sports, and get them on bikes.
Not sure how you would leverage this with DH woman racers.
  • + 16
 Being honest I was more glued to the women's wc last year, I thought it was closer and more competitive - really enjoyed it
  • + 10
 @sewer-rat I can't agree more there also. The women's races were more nail-biters than the men's all season. 2015 is going to be a killer season!

@SlackBoy and @ReformedRoadie, our US office makes it a point to offer sponsorship to any female athlete to help grow their ranks and make a more friendly environment for women athletes. they just need to contact marketing@marzocchiusa.com. They look to all racers, DH, XC, enduro..beginner to pro level.
  • + 1
 @ReformedRoadie ...what you are talking about is more than likely a response to Title IX requirements. I say "more than likely" because I wasn't in the room making the decisions, but follow my reasoning here: Title IX mandated equal athletic opportunities for men and women (among other things) in US colleges. Some sports which have been almost exclusively male, such as wrestling, found their programs on the chopping block as universities had to rebalance both opportunities and budgets. The fact is that MOST sports were majority/exclusively male 20 years ago.

Cycling saw the writing on the wall and did not want to disappear, and was lucky enough to be a sport which drew a reasonable amount of female interest (compared to boxing or wrestling, anyway). What better way to ensure your sport survives the Title IX battles than bringing in more women? And that is exactly what the team standing calculations you allude to are intended to do.

And yeah @SlackBoy I couldn't agree more.

Sucks for wrestling. Good for cycling.
  • + 4
 @slackBoy, you're right on the money -- mandatory female placing on the WC would not only create more of an economy for female viewers, but also for females athletes aspiring to race professionally. Knowing there's a spot on a team goes a long way towards building a race season versus just training and gathering sponsorships as a privateer, hoping you can break the top 10 (or 5) and make an impact. Men strive to race because of that very fact, but women? When even the best of the best struggle to keep a team, what motivation is there for other female racers coming up through the ranks, outside of sheer drive and determination?

However, I'm also adamantly against any sort of affirmative action -- that's just a pity card. We need the industry to sharpen up and start to realize the value that these women have and the history they've created inside the sport. Em is a killer rider and awesome person; she shouldn't be shopping teams for support with retirement as an alternative. That's ridiculous.
  • + 1
 @kabanosipyvo - not sure if it does apply, because, at least when I was involved, it was a club sport, and had almost no university support. It was the participants doing the recruiting, not by some mandate, but because it benefited the team.
  • + 1
 @ReformedRoadie --thanks, that's a very good point.
  • + 38
 more $$$ for Emmeline and all other top female please
  • + 30
 Mondraker is going to kill it this year, such a rad rad team they are building! I'm pumped for the season!
  • + 6
 #allthepodiums. all of them.
  • + 1
 I wish man, they deserve it for sure. Since Fabian Barel left they are in the shade with all respect to Damien S and Marcus P
  • + 30
 The team managers at Lapierre need to have their heads read to let a rider like Emmeline leave their team.
  • + 7
 they didn't "let her leave"
  • + 11
 ^ I know I was being 'polite' towards Lapierre.
  • + 4
 Sorry, not always easy to see "politness" in an other language ;-) And I do agree with you.
(Blenki ftw)
  • + 0
 Lapierre management is a pile of crap. To let their top female rider go from an injury is a reflection of their thinking process. Bruni should jump ship to Trek. Mr Lapierrre blame it on your bike not the rider. Who rides Lapierre anyways? Lol. Glad to see her going back to her roots with Mondraker!
  • + 28
 Aww Emmeline, :-* :-* :-* Smile
  • + 20
 She's one of my favourite riders, even considering all the male athletes. I just like how she looks on the bike, she's so small and the wheels are so big, but she just wrestles that thing down the mountain, it's awesome!
I think the industry should sponsor more women, I think most DH fans also follow women's racing.

I probably won't buy a certain bike because Emmeline rides it, but it still makes the bike more sympathetic to me. And I like to believe I've never bought a bike because of a male rider.... at least not willingly ^^
  • + 5
 Well, she deserves what she can get, she earns it I reckon. No doubt, when Warner calls out her name in that timing hut, I watch; she is fast!
  • + 18
 "Arguably one of the strongest female athletes in downhill" ???
That would be a SHORT argument, since whoever is arguing against would have nothing to say. Skills, style on the bike, attitude, race results -- all killing it -- and she still has to seek out sponsors?! The sexist inequality in sport is crazy. There should be some pay equity mechanism from the top governing bodies of the sport.
  • + 7
 I have no arguments with you there, in hindsight I should have written 'As one of the strongest women in downhill.' I agree with all of the above which is why I tried to highlight it in the interview and allow her to give us insight into exactly your point "The sexist inequality in sport is crazy." Most female athletes (and yes guys too) have to work alongside racing just to be able to do so, there are only a small handful of women who get paid a decent salary and are able to put their focus into racing. It saddens me that women are finding it difficult to get sponsored, especially when they are women like Emmeline.
  • + 21
 Favorite Dh girl
  • + 16
 Glad she managed to get a deal , wouldn't be right with out her doing the rounds , and such a shame it's so hard for the ladies to get a deal in this day and age.. And also...Could you do the same interview again but this time with her talking , her voice is as cute as a pram full of puppies !
  • + 14
 Great to see an interview on emmeline, I was interested to see how she was going. World champs was devastating - I feel she had a great chance to win there. I'm not sure about the comment "arguably one of the strongest" - she is one of the strongest, fact.
  • + 0
 No need to nit pick the phrasing, we all know what they meantWink
  • + 1
 I understand them to mean what they say
  • + 12
 Physiotherapy is a brilliant choice for a mountain biker! If your friends are anything like me and my riding buddies, you'll have a lot of work in your future! But till then, Keep On Ripping!!
  • + 8
 that's bullshit emmaline shouldn't have to go scouting for a ride she's an absolute ripper ,love watching her ride ,I enjoy the womens racing just as much as the blokes racing ,amazes me how fast and fearless some of the girls are and teams should encourage them more.
  • + 8
 I wish I could ride half as fast as women like Emmeline. They put on such an exciting race. More support please.
  • + 10
 Alright, one more season for us to enjoy that great competitive spirit and stunning smile.
  • + 8
 Love Emmeline... I stood by her during the men's finals in '12 @ Windham. ( I volunteered as a shaparone) she is so fun and knowledgeable of the sport. I wish her the best success in 2015. I'll be rootin' for ya girl!
  • + 7
 I've been following her since 2010, maybe, and I always thought that she is one of the most capable and bad-@$$ female riders out there. Rob Warner once made the connection between her riding style and that of Fabien Barel and every time I see her at the races, I can't shake what Warner said 'cuz it's true! I'm so excited to see her riding with Danny Hart in 2015, who's one of my favourite male riders, maybe not in terms of consistency, but he makes more than up for it in terms of style! Just imagine, the riding styles of Barel and Hart rolled into one neat package with some personal style sprinkles on top.... She'll be unstoppable with styles for miles! Go get 'em girl! Smile
  • + 12
 Not cool lapierre...
  • + 6
 Yeah, Lapierre wtf were you thinking letting her go???
  • + 8
 Emmeline, go grab the overall title!!! glad to see you a few more seasons on the wc circuit :-)

@lapierre: big mistake, really a big mistake
  • + 5
 I don't get why the interviews with girls (generally) are shorter than those with male competitors. Basically it reflects what she said about the sponsorship - they don't even get the same exposure as men. And in this case - interviews - I believe they have a lot of interesting stories to share.
Am I wrong?
  • + 4
 what would be awesome is an entire womens team, owned and managed by women, to sort out the other teams offering less £££ and to give women an equal chance at decent sponsorship instead of having to ask and fight for it while the men get it handed to them.
  • + 7
 @jaimehi tried to do that this year, but was unsuccessful in getting the support she needed to make it happen. http://www.jaimehillracing.com/p/sponsorship-opportunity.html
  • + 1
 oh wow didn't know about that, but it won't be something which'll happen overnight, as it seems that MTB racing is very much a boys club, but fair play to her for actually attempting it rather than just saying it.
  • + 5
 @laurenjenkins we are supporting @Jaimehi also!
  • + 5
 That's awesome @MarzocchiMTB!! Glad to know she has the support of a great company.
  • + 1
 Thanks @laurenjenkins ...hopefully one day that dream will become a realitySmile It's a pretty large endeavour!
  • + 4
 I wonder what plans can LP possibly have that do not include one of the best riders on the market.

Planning on not being on the podium? Planning to use interns to race for their life?
  • + 5
 Thanks guys for all your messages. It's really nice to know that we have support from you at least. Cheers Em
  • + 1
 LP doesn't deserve you Em. Go to where you're respected. Please stay in the sport longer, whether it's DH or the "E" word. I'd rather not say it here, I might get mauled.
  • + 2
 Pretty stoked to see how Mondraker does this year, new carbon bike, serious commitment to having world class riders on their team. Take note manufacturers: what really gets me & others stoked on your brand, when it comes to sponsored racing, is when you take it serious as a pursuit of it's own, rather than treating it as advertising expense. (Specialized & LaPiere should be paying special attention here, with some of the boneheaded moves you've made lately.)
  • + 2
 Hard to believe no one approached Emmeline after being let go by LP. Hard to believe LP let her go in the first place. Her story reminds me of Hart's. Greedy corporations just want the bottom line: Win or GTFO.
  • + 2
 Girl you rock!!! I am glad you another team was smart enough to sponsor you! It would have been a crying shame if you had to retire because sponsors wan to sponsor me and not one of the fast women in racing.
  • + 6
 She Da Bomb!
  • + 4
 Retire? Wut? Please talk to Sabine Spitz.
  • + 1
 I don't get what LGR think when they decided not to extend the contract with this super firder.
When she was on LGR team, she (almost) never been on big 5, always on big 3. And that is a good think in my opinion. CMIIW.
  • + 4
 One side decision?

....I guess someone will be highly motivated
  • + 3
 No picture of Emmeline on the new mondraker? Frown
  • + 2
 I think it said somewhere else because of study she hadn't spent much time on it yet....
  • + 2
 She was unable to get out and attend the press camp, but I'm sure there will be plenty soon!
  • + 2
 she is hot hot ! Always great to watch , you know you are in for a full on attack of the course.

Roll on 2015 Wink
  • + 1
 Emmeline is definitely my favorite rider...female or male. She's smart, talented, classy and aggressive. May 2015 be your best!
  • + 1
 Love her, so glad she has a team for 2015!

No diplomatic answers either Smile
  • + 1
 The pocket rocket is back \m/ \m/
  • + 1
 Emeline 3 3 3
  • + 1
 Yes Emmeline! You deserve it. Well done MS Mondraker too!
  • + 1
 more coverage of female mountain bikers please.
  • + 1
 One of the best...See u at val di sole...

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