Interview: Myriam Nicole on Her First Team, Women's DH Racing & Her Numerous Comebacks from Injury

Jan 28, 2020
by Ross Bell  

World Cup downhill seems to become increasingly brutal year on year. Times are ever-tightening, field spreads are shrinking and riders are having to push their limits, even overstepping them in pursuit of that top podium step. Myriam Nicole knows this better than most. She's been at the forefront of women's racing for well over 10 years now and has experienced the full plethora of emotions that a racer might be faced with, from the elation of winning to the desolation of injuries.

She might well have had a rougher ride than most with some pretty big injuries over the years, but no matter how hard she goes down she always fights her way back to the top. A stubborn determination fuelled by the passion for racing her bike. On the eve of the 2019 season, a big crash saw Myriam laying in a hospital bed with a smashed foot. By her own admission, she was done with racing. She had surgery that evening and by the time she came around the next morning her feelings had changed, she was fired up to get back between the race tapes. Flick through the months to the start of September and she stood atop the Mont-Sainte-Anne podium complete with the rainbow jersey, her first World Champs win. Not only a fairytale turnaround but a just reward for what she'd fought through.

We go back to the start and talk about everything from her introduction to riding and racing, to balancing studying with racing, her long relationship with Commencal, and the highs and lows of racing:

Going back to the start, how did you first get into riding and then racing?

I started when I was 5. My brothers were racing and in France, you have these races where you use the same bike and you race cross country, trials, and downhill. These are around where you live and then you can be qualified to start nationals. My brothers used to do that kind of racing and I went to watch them do it. I remember I had stabilisers on my bike and then the day after I removed them and did my first race. That was the beginning. I kept doing those races and then when you are 14 you have to choose between one of the disciplines. I think I was a bit lazy when I was 14 and downhill was so much fun. I wanted to be with my brothers and they were older than me, that was kind of the only way that I could go out and ride with them and their friends, so I wanted to do downhill where I could still be with them.

When I was 14 and racing youth there was a manager from the Ayton Giant Les 2 Alpes team, who asked me to come on the team with Fabien Cousinie and a few other riders. I said yeah I'm up for it, but that was a big change, I had to leave my brothers. I went on that team for three years, my two years of junior and my first year of elite.

After that, I remember I was in Schladming with my press book because I had been injured, I had a broken scapula from Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2009 so I didn't do many races. I was doing well, I knew I could ride my bike properly so I was like okay, come on you need to find a team... So I went to Schladming and I was in the gondola with Thibaut Ruffin [Team manager of Riding Addiction / Commencal] and I didn't know him that well, he was asking me what I was doing with all this stuff. I told him I was looking for a team and he said okay he would think about it. His mum was like, a girl in the team?! What? She wasn't really up for it, but then in 2010, they said okay we want you on the team. I went with them and that was almost 10 years ago now!

Were you pretty successful straight away?

When I was in junior I was struggling, I was really struggling in junior. I really remember that winter between being junior and elite, I trained really hard. Well, compared to now that wasn't really hard, but I was really focused and I really wanted to do well and to make the transition as best as possible.

When I went into elite I think I was a bit surprised. The first round was in South Africa and I didn't do that well but then we went to La Bresse and I got third straight away. When I was not injured, normally everything went quite well. It worked straight away. I had a good bike, and the team, even if it wasn't how it is now, it was still good support. I had a mechanic and some guys to ride with so that was cool.

I didn't do the first year of World Cups when I was a junior but my first international race was the World Champs in that first year of junior. So I only did the World Champs in Fort William and I got third, the year after I did almost all the World Cups and then World Champs where I was second I think. I was quite far behind first-place who was a French girl. That was tough times... It's crazy, I was just so slow!

How hard was the step up to elites, how did you find that transition?

I was really determined to do well because my head wanted to make the transition good, everything went quite well. I remember that winter. I knew if I didn't do a lot of riding, I knew if I didn't start losing a bit of weight and training a bit that I would stay at the level I had in juniors so I pushed hard and it was successful.

You've always had a prowess for steep and technical tracks, where did that skill set come from? Was it a reflection of the terrain you grew up riding?

I think it was because of the races I was talking about. I've been on a bike forever and I've been doing a bit of trials which teaches you the maneuverability. I was always pretty good with that skill. In trials, I wasn't good at doing obstacles but I felt like I had a good balance and stuff. Then I was going to the bike school every weekend around my home so I think it comes when you practice something and you are consistent in doing it. Yeah, I think the trails around my house definitely helped. I think it was just being on the bike a lot at a young age and doing so many different things with that same bike.

I got my first bike with suspension on the front and the back when I was 16, I would say which was quite late. So all the years before that I was riding a bike with just front suspension and that really teaches you how to ride a bike. I think my technical skills come from that, but then when we come to the jump skills... I'd never done any jumps when I was younger, the first jumps I started doing when I was riding downhill at around 14 or 15 years old. I would come to a downhill track to race and of course, there were jumps, so that was a bit late! In one way I was really happy that I did that bike school for my technical skills, but in the other way, I really wish I'd been on a BMX bike when I was younger because that would have taught me the base for jumping which I am still working on today.

You've already mentioned your brothers, but was there anyone else that was particularly influential in your early career?

For sure my brothers but that manager who got me on the Giant team gave me a really good base. He is called Sebastien Chovet. He paid for a coach, he gave me a good base for setting a bike, about line choice... That gave me all the base that I have now. I think my brothers were all about having fun and just riding a bike but Sebastien gave me a base for racing. Those three years on the Giant team gave me some support for racing, that was really important to have.

Then in 2010 you joined Commencal which was the start of a long relationship and partnership...

I was on Giant when I was 17,18 and 19, but at 16 my first downhill bike was a Commencal! It was the Anne-Caroline Chausson replica and then I had these three years before I got back on a Commencal so I don't know very much about any other bikes!

When you first joined them did you have any idea it would be the start of such a long relationship?

No! I was young and really believed in the present moment and didn't think too much about my career... I was still at school, and biking was my passion and hobby. I didn't see myself thinking about a career in it. I didn't know if I would do it for a long time or not but I was just having fun so I kept going. With the team it was good to see the evolution in 10 years. It's crazy how they have adapted and given their lives for it. The parents, Thibaut, Gaetan, everyone!

Myriam Nicole may have felt the nerves a bit today but she dod what needed to be done and is the 2017 World Cup Champion.

Gaetan is both your boyfriend and teammate, how is it balancing a relationship alongside racing together in such close proximity?

Since the beginning, it has been quite natural. When we are racing we are focused on what we are doing. We separate the different sides of the relationship. We can really feel the difference between the winter when we are at home like a real couple and then when we start leaving and going everywhere racing. It's a bit different but we are used to it, we've been doing this for so long. It's really natural.

Your first win came in Val di Sole in 2011, were you knocking on the door of that for a while?

Yes and no. There was Rachel who was really dominating everything, I was a bit more consistent in 4th and 5th place. At that moment, my goal was to start being more in the top three than being first. That one was a big surprise. I think everyone rode well but I think because Val di Sole is a track I like and it was technical. I was on flat pedals at that time... You know in Val di Sole anything can happen!

Then the next one didn't come until 2017... A big, big gap!

Thank you Rachel! *laughing* Through all the injuries and between Rachel being that fast, and all the others, the level being high with Emmeline Ragot and everyone... It's been tough and also I never wanted to leave school, those were my biggest years at school when I decided to start studying physiotherapy. That was tough. I didn't expect it to be so hard to manage. I think that is why I turned it around, in 2017 that was the year at school that I took not a break as such, but I made my year lighter. I did some exams that year and then again the year after so I split the year, I had a bit more time. It was still very intense but I had a bit more time. So yeah I won in Vallnord, that was the second one. A long time! Then the weekend after another one, I was like boom!

You had a very rough ride with a lot of big injuries, what kept you motivated and coming back for more?

Like I told you, I've been racing bikes since I was 5. I know one day this will be done but if it's possible to still race I will keep going. There is no point in giving up when it's your passion. I've always thought, okay I'll give everything, get back and make it work and if I end up losing the level I was at then at least I would have tried. I've always tried and it's always given me lessons in life so it's worth it.

Myriam Nicole

Was there ever any doubts in your head that enough is enough?

Oh yeah, in April this year when I broke my foot. For sure straight after that. I crashed at 5 pm I think and I didn't get surgery until 11 pm... In those 6 hours I texted everyone, my coach, my mother in law, my parents, everyone... I'm finished, I'm done. Then in the morning when I spoke with the surgeon, he said you might not be back on your bike within 3 months. I said what?! That's not possible! Fort William is in three months! That was the moment that I had a bit of doubt but it had gone by the morning.

You're all finished school now?

Yeah, I passed the final exam in May 2018.

It was physiotherapy you studied, right? Is that something you want to come back to after you are done with racing?

Yeah, it was physiotherapy. I can't really see myself working in a clinic all day long. I don't know, I'm just too into nature and being outside. I also love this side so I haven't really thought about it too much. I could see myself more mixing a bit of everything, working more with athletes in the field rather than doing 100% at a clinic inside.

Did that knowledge you had help you through the injuries?

For sure, I think with this one this year. I've had so many broken collarbones and with breaking a collarbone there is not much you can do about it apart from waiting a while and then it's all good again, it's so easy. It didn't help me that much with injuries at that time but with the one this year it helped me a lot. This injury is very specific, with the foot there are so many articulations and I could really feel which one wrong, which one I should focus on, and what to tell to the physio so it really helped me with this last one.

It helped me to train and to understand a lot more of the human body, to analyse my discipline. Downhill is so specific and it's still a young sport, it was easier for me to give myself my own perspective of the sport and with my knowledge, my coach helped me.

Why did you feel the need to study instead of focusing purely on racing?

Our sport is getting more professional but when I started in 2010 I didn't think that it would be my job one day. It was such a small sport. I didn't think it would be my job and my parents, of course, pushed me to have a secure future, it won't last forever. That was the first point, to have something after racing, to have a job. That is the worry of a lot of parents. They pushed me to keep going with school so that was the first thing I did and I needed that balance.

After 2009, I took a break from school, I did something but it was really easy. I find it hard to just focus on riding a bike and I thought something was wrong in my life compared to other people, I was just riding a bike. I found it a bit unfair, why am I just having fun every day whilst everyone is going to work. I thought I needed a bit of balance so I went to a business school for three years and passed, but I realised that it wasn't really my thing.

Well, I love business, but I felt like I needed to learn something to help people. This is something that really motivated me too, I like to help people with anything. My Dad was a doctor so I was already interested in that side of things so that's why I decided to go into physiotherapy. So at first, it was because my family pushed me to keep going with school and I agreed with them and second, when I tried to focus a bit more on racing I found it hard to only have this as a goal and I needed to have balance.

After you are finished racing do you think you'd then be interested in working within the mountain bike circle as a physio?

Yeah for sure. I don't think a lot about after my racing career because I'm still so into it but for sure I'd love to work with athletes in mountain biking.

Are you still a UCI Rider Representative? Could you explain that roll for anyone that might not know?

Yeah, so I'm not the mountain bike athletes' representative at the UCI as they only have two people. One cross county and one downhill which is Greg Minnaar, that is the mountain bike commission.

I am at the athlete's commissions where all the riders from all of the bike disciplines get together one or two times a year and talk about more general cycling subjects. It's not where you talk about specific subjects, you can, but it is not the goal. It's more about things like doping, how to improve your sport and to see how everything works in another discipline. You can have the feedback from the girls if there are any problems. For example, this year we had the transgender subject so I didn't want to give my own personal opinion but I went to see every girl and get their feedback, then I did a report to the UCI about that.

Are you particularly involved in the women's side of things?

Yeah, it's helping the women to be more in the spotlight with the equality between men and women. This is the kind of subject we are talking about. It's good to meet riders from every bike discipline because you can see how it works and you can see if we are doing good or any other disciplines are doing better.

Myriam Nicole with the quaint harbour finish line in the distance.

In your opinion how healthy is the women's side of the sport at the moment?

Of course, I'd love to see more women racing downhill but I do understand. From the outside this is an extreme sport, this is a sport where it's clear that there are not many girls. I would love to see more girls but the equality side between men and women could be improved by the sponsors, at least with the UCI we are on the same prize money. I think there is a lot of respect for the girls from the men's side, there is good communication. I'm always impressed how when we are struggling or when we are not sure we can ask to follow a boy to do something hard like a jump or a technical section. It's still a male-dominated field and I would definitely like to see more girls.

It is getting bigger but the access to World Cups isn't that easy. There are now only 15 girls who qualify. It doesn't help with the sponsors, there are not many teams who would include a girl in their team. I feel so lucky. I told you earlier how important my first team was for the good base they gave me, to have a mechanic, to have a manager that could teach me all the bases for racing. I feel like there are so many riders who are privateers and they don't have the support they deserve, then they cannot do better because we are still doing a mechanical sport.

We don't have a motor but there is a lot of technical parts and even if you work on your physical side, even if you are good on your bike... At some point, you need more support on your bike. I would say of course there are more girls riding downhill but the fact there are not enough teams who take them on board, it's not easy for them. I can see so many that have started and then stopped, with only 15 girls qualifying, it's not much... So a big hat off to all the girls who keep pushing without the support so they can be seen and then join a team. I think next year one of the teams is going to have three girls which is great. I really encourage all the managers to get girls on their teams.

It looks like there will be a decent boost next year with some junior girls moving up, riders like Mille Johnset, Vali Holl and Anna Newkirk.

I can't wait. It's so good. I'm really happy that there are some new and fresh girls coming and it's going to be a good battle. Last year, I was injured so I could focus on the women's racing from the outside and Vali just smashed it last year. It's really good. I'm really looking forward to having them on board. I hope there is many more coming.

What do you think could be done to encourage more girls into the sport?

I think the good thing is that all the bike parks are doing easy tracks. Now when you want to start you don't have to go into gnarly tracks straight away. You can start at a bike park with easy tracks and you get confidence and take it step by step.

We need more clubs and the community encouraging girls to come riding, then after if you want to start racing to have more support from the federation and from the sponsors.

The bike brands need to be even more supportive of the girls. I'm trying to do some girls camps but of course, I cannot do as many as I would like to but I'm trying to encourage them and to share my experience with them. Every time I do a camp the message I'm trying to give is that I've been injured so many times but at some points, I've not asked for it, but I have pushed too much to get it. You can ride downhill with being in control, you can. From the outside it is kind of scary, but we can control a lot of stuff.

The salary difference between men and women gets talked about a lot but I don't think there has ever been any real perspective to how big that gap might be.

Yeah. I think everyone is a bit secretive with their salaries. It's getting better and I'm really happy with most of my deals but still, we are definitely not earning as much as the boys. I am training as much as the top men are training, I am as much of an athlete as they are. Of course, I am not going as fast but my body is not as strong as their body but for me, it should be the same, it should be equal.

It is for sure getting better. Slowly, but yes it is. I think we are doing a really good job with all the girls. We have the results then and are working a lot on our communication to show that we can make the industry sell bikes as well. For sure we don't have the same image as the boys but we can still shred a bike really well, we still have a good image.

I'm really lucky that we don't have to be naked on Instagram or whatever. This would be horrible if it was at this point and we are going the other way so that is really good. We've never been in that situation. When I think of surfing it's a lot more about if you don't show yourself in a bikini then you won't have that many followers.

I think in mountain biking there really is a respect, a love from all the boys. A lot of the time they admire us, like how did you shred that section, woah I'm impressed! And they really are. It is getting so much better. The viewing numbers of the racing is still lower for the girls than the men but I think with a lot of the top girls being injured, it didn't help. When we are all there and with some new juniors coming up, I'm pretty sure everyone cannot wait to watch the first World Cup next year.

Fire in the hole. Myriam Nicole prepares to drop for her first run on the day she would go on to take gold in one of the greatest comebacks on women s DH history.

Back to your racing. 2017 was a super strong season for you, getting back on track to where you wanted to be I guess?

That year I gave myself only one goal. To do a full season with no injuries, that was my main goal and I did it and won the overall so I was so happy. I won two races in Vallnord and Lenzerheide, there was a really good battle between all of the girls. Unfortunately, that was the year when Rachel dislocated her shoulder and broke her collarbone at World Champs but with Tracey and Tahnee it was a good battle.

I came so close to winning World Champs but the story behind that race is so ridiculous and hilarious I would say. I didn't do a good race run, I was so close to winning but I did so many mistakes and I didn't do the run I wanted to do. I was really pleased that Miranda took that one. She was there that day and was so strong. I was disappointed but I also didn't deserve it for what I did. Then there was that mistake on the timing... That was a long one.

What was the story behind that timing glitch then?

I can't remember why but my timing was wrong. I did a big, big, mistake before the jump line and I could not do the jumps. I was not riding like myself because I found out on the radio that Tracey and Tahnee crashed and I knew that Miranda didn't beat my time from qualifying where I didn't go all out on the pedalling section because I wanted to save my energy for the final day as the pedalling was so hard there. I'd never normally do that.

I found that out 30 seconds before my start and it destabilised me so much so I didn't do the run I wanted to. I still gave my best though. I pedalled as much as I could at the end but when I crossed the line I finished 17th... I was behind girls I didn't even know. I was like wow, you did really bad! That made me believe that all the mistakes and bad riding I did were so much worse than what I thought. A few hours later Gaetan was like have you seen how far behind you are? It's not possible from not jumping a jump or not being in a good rhythm that would cause you to be so far behind. I was like yeah, you are right.

So I went to see the commissaire and they were like, we know, there is something wrong with your time. They have a backup so they double-checked and I finished second by 0.09 seconds... I'm not 17th, I'm vice World Champion! The first thing that came into my head wasn't oh you could have been World Champ, that's really not what came into my head because with that run and everything... That would have been cool but you know I didn't want to win it that way. It was more wow, from 17th to 2nd in two hours! Let's wait another hour and maybe you will be World Champ! It was a bit crazy! That's the story of Cairns World Champs.

Then 2018 started off pretty strongly, from my point of view Croatia was perhaps your strongest win so far.

Yeah for sure. I had the number 1 plate and that was a track that when I walked I wasn't really looking forward to. A lot of riders went to test that track and I didn't go during the winter. All the girls were healthy, all the girls were there and I won by 2.5 or 3 seconds almost I think. For me that is my best. Of course, World Champs was crazy this year, but that was one of my best feelings when racing. It was so flowy despite all the rocks.

The season was shaping up pretty nicely, you were fighting up at the front before another big crash and injury in Val di Sole.

I was really pleased though. I won in Croatia and then the two races after I got second but I was battling within a second with Rachel and Tahnee. It was really tight racing, that's what I love. I didn't win after Croatia but it was tight and I still had the number 1 plate coming into Val di Sole. I saw Thibaut at the side of the track and I always, I don't know why, I always want to impress him. I know him well enough now, I don't have to impress him anymore! He was on the side of the track at such a technical part and I love to have his feedback when he says you looked good at this part so I think I just went a bit too fast and wasn't focused enough and then went over the bars on one of the steepest sections in Val di Sole and of course it was brutal. I could feel my back was swelling, I went to the bottom on my bike on the 4x4 track and then within 20 minutes I started having a lot of blood in my lower back.

I went to see the doctors who were like woah, this is getting bigger and bigger. They called the helicopter as it wouldn't stop bleeding so I had a lot of x-rays and examinations, I was so lucky that I didn't break any bones but the bleeding was really bad so that's why I had to stay there. The recovery from that was really weird. I had to wait so long for my body to reabsorb all the blood and mentally I got really scared that day. When you hit your back that hard and I had such a heavyweight on my lower back from the blood, that was kind of scary and it took me a while to get my confidence back after this one.

I came back racing for National Champs in Morzine on a chaotic track in chaotic conditions. It was impossible not to crash. I don't think any of the riders could avoid crashing. I came back to Mont-Sainte-Anne and my confidence was so low. I was so scared to be on my bike on that track. I felt that track was just impossible, any small obstacle was so hard and in finals I had a small crash and I twisted my seat, I gave up because I just couldn't keep going. I was so scared to be on my bike. That was crazy, I'd never felt like this. That injury took me so long to get over.

After we went to La Bresse and it was just big jumps where I didn't feel confident, plus it was wet. They were tough races, that's why finishing with a third place in Lenzerheide at World Champs was for me, even if I was 11 seconds behind Rachel which was hard to swallow, was a still a victory to be back in the top 3 after that year.

That would've been a good result to start building into the offseason with I guess?

There was a big change that winter, I changed my coach. I'd been working with a guy who was a coach for a road cycling team, more for endurance sport and cross country. But then I decided to change because I had been working with him for 6 or 7 years and sometimes change is good. So I decided to go with the same coach as Loic, he is called Nicolas Arshoot and he is the French Olympic coach. So I changed from someone who was more from road riding to someone who is coaching the Olympic BMX team so that was a big change.

The second change was that it was my first year training 100% as a job. Last winter there were some big changes. I could feel the benefits of the training, everything went so well with him. Once again that was my first time doing full-time training and like I told you the first time I did that after A Levels in 2009 I felt weird about just training and just having one goal. I think I just went into it too much, I was focused on doing well and I just pushed too hard, going faster and faster, but then I felt like I hadn't given enough.

In February, we were training in Italy in San Romelo and I broke my wrist. I kept it a bit secret because I was honestly a bit ashamed about being injured that much. I was pissed off, I was ashamed. I broke my wrist and for one month I'd been struggling, I did a lot of turbo trainer and I changed my training. There was still all the support from my mental coach and all my coaches so I didn't lose anything, but then when I was back riding my bike my wrist was still painful so I got another examination and it turned out I'd broken a ligament in my hand too. The day after that my coach said from the examination yesterday the surgeon doesn't want you to ride for two days because of the way it is. I was like what?! I'm not going riding?! I'm not going to do anything? Okay, I'll go running... then I did a huge strain on my left ankle. Like huge. My foot was so big, so blue. I went from that broken hand to that big strain on my left ankle.

I tried to go as fast as I can to fix it to be ready for the team camp in Portugal. I went to Portugal and it all went quite well, I came back home to get ready for Maribor and one week before I went riding with Loic and some friends in La Grand Combe. It was a windy day and once again I was like okay, it's the last training session of the year before the first World Cup so push hard. In my head, I was like one more, one more, one more... It was so windy and I could have stopped the run before but no, I still went. Then I got hit by the wind. Maybe it would have happened anyway but maybe if I'd stopped before because I'd had enough everything would have been a bit different. I broke my foot. That's the story of my winter. In three months you had in February the wrist, just before March the ankle, then on the 11th of April I did the foot. So you can understand why I thought it was too much. I'm done, I'm finished.

Probably the hardest but most rewarding come back to return at World Champs and take the win then?

The injury is still nothing when compared to like a spinal injury or whatever. It's just mechanical, it's just a foot but it's a pain in the ass. This injury I have on my foot is still really bad. I could not sleep last night because after 8 months it's still so painful. I had to buy a machine to ice it and if I don't ice it in one day I can't walk. I cannot run anymore... At the gym when we are trying to do plyometric jumps and that sort of thing, I can do it but then I need to ice my foot for two hours. It really is a pain in the ass.

Last week I did some exams and I'm doing some more next week. The surgeon knew it would be bad when I broke it. He said straight away you've broken it in such a bad way that your articulation between these two bones is smashed and the characteristic of it is that it's painful for a very long time. The only way to remove the pain is to block the articulation, then the two bones cannot move anymore. It's nothing but it's annoying. I've had to accept it and do a lot of work to deal with it because I'm not the kind of person who would stop doing everything and wouldn't do anything because of it.

I'm talking to you with my ball in my hand and after I'm going to massage my foot. I have to think about it and be active with it to make it work but this is why that comeback was big. I crashed on the 11th April, I got the crutches and then I had surgery again in June, after that surgery I had to learn how to walk again so I went to the rehab centre for almost two months.

The surgeon said racing in August? No way. I was like okay sure if you say so, but before racing in Whistler I went to see him, we did some more examinations and he said it would not make it worse because the bad stuff is done already. It would not make it worse to race on it so if you can deal with the pain then go for it, but be careful. That is why I was so pleased to race in Whistler. The good surprise on the bike was although it was painful in some sections, it was more in the evening after the day of riding that you have to deal with the pain. It worked but even in Mont-Sainte-Anne it was the same. I knew I had to deal with it. There were no regrets.

I remember at the start of August having a meeting with my coaches about whether we focus on 2020 or if we try to do that World Champs. That was only one month before and we were still deciding whether to go or not. That was a good surprise!

What were your expectations coming into that weekend in Mont-Sainte-Anne?

I was always thinking what a bad season, imagine if you could do well at World Champs... That would save everything a little bit. That was just my dream and I had nothing to lose. I had nothing to lose but I didn't want to hurt myself again, I really didn't want to hurt myself again.

I didn't have any expectations in terms of results, I just wanted to have fun and to ride with the energy I had at that moment and to just be grateful to be back on my bike. Then after qualifying, everything changed. Then I won quali. I was like wow, it's possible. We were talking a few months ago about whether I'd even be able to do that race and within one run we talked about winning the rainbow jersey.

Has it finally settled in yet?

Yeah, it took time! It took time to realise what I'd done... but now I think I do and I'm so stoked about it!

Looking back on your career now, what advice would you give yourself as a young racer starting out?

I wish I knew how important training is to protect yourself. Training is not only to get faster but also to protect yourself. I don't think I was born with a big shape, I don't have big muscles that protect me naturally. I'd guess my bones aren't that big as I break a lot of bones so the training helps a lot with that. And the BMX side for the jumps. In one way what I did was really good but I wish I could have started with BMX.

Then finally, what are your goals and hopes for 2020 and beyond?

I'm feeling great, the only small thing that is pissing me off is the foot which is limiting me a little bit in my preparation. I've adapted and changed to deal with it. We are doing some camps and testing and I'm feeling good on my bike.

I don't see any reasons that I won't be in the game. I think there are so many good riders doing a great job but I don't see any reason why I won't be fighting them with some tight racing. Honestly between all the girls, Rachel, Vali, Tahnee, Marine, Tracey, and all the privateers... I'm really looking forward to the first race and going as fast as I can. I think everyone is doing a great job by themselves in the winter. I have no idea who will be winning... If I knew I would tell you! I think it's going to be tight racing which everyone loves so I hope it ends up being like this!


  • 42 6
 I am always stoked that female racers tend to have something that they can do besides racing. Miriam Nicole has Physiotherapy, Manon Carpenter has Geology, Kate Courtney has a degree in Biology, Nina Hoffman is working on her Master of Psychology, Vali Holl is working on her degree.

I think it sets a really good example and creates strong role models for young people of any gender to be more than a racer, and to give yourself more options than just bikes.

I hope someday my boys and/or girls look up to these women
  • 40 20
 Don’t be sexist. Dudes do a lot too. Like Ratboy quit racing to save the planet.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Isn't Loic studying at one of the most prestigious universities in France? And the Data Analysis/ visualisation skills Elliot Jackson has are on par with his whips
  • 2 0
 @SmashySmashy: jokes aside I am highly prejudiced. Women do tend to make smarter life choices. I can’t help to have a feeling that many pro men racers carry themselves as if still lived with their mom... I know they don’t but Peter Pan is strong in quite a few boys out there.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: That's not always a good thing though. It's arguably a bad thing when you're conemplating the risk/ reward ratio of hurling yourself down a mountain at 70km/h versus 30km/h in a race run.
Maybe save it for Instagram in future. There's more potential for a dopamine hit, and of course we all know PB mods oppose any form of rebuttal of such ideas.
  • 1 0
 @SmashySmashy: sure but there are diminishing returns to everything, especially in a professionalized racing like DH has become. Methodic training and practice become more important than putting your balls on table every single time. Such approach won’t work that well Even in Fest Series. Also, it’s not like some of them are mentally fatigued from few road rides, few gym sessions, each of which combined don’t come even close to nine-to-five job schedule. Some of XCers or pro roadies can’t even speak since they are nourishes to spin pedals since they were 5, so once that last contract runs out, it’s not like you will be some sales or media rep for your former sponsor.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I disagree. Anyone can train methodically and practice dilligently but at the fringes of performance the ability to put your balls on the tabe (as you so eloquently put it) becomes paramount. Where you see diminishing returns, I see the distinguishing factor between winning and result outside the top 10.
Case in point: Marcelo Gutierrez (absolute beast) vs Pierron (beastly and loose).
That's not to say that physical capacity doesn't matter, but as you yourself point out- in an increasingly professionalized sport that aspect of performance is already optimised.
Also, I believe Danny wasn't doing much gym work back in 2011, but I'm open to correction :-)
  • 25 0
 You guys have been killing it with the interviews lately, keep it up Always super interesting to read what goes on in the heads of these people.
  • 14 0
 Read it with her voice in my head Smile
  • 10 0
 she is awesome
  • 4 0
 Great answer to that polemic race in Cairns 2017, she just showed herself truly humble and happy to have got that second place at least. And her point of view of her own run also provided a very reasonable explanation to what happened that day, to clear suspicions that results should have been different
  • 7 0
 Such an inspirational mtbiker!
  • 7 0
 Should stop using black and white avatar.
  • 6 0
 Enjoyed the interview. I can't wait to see the women's field battle it out this year!
  • 9 2
 awesome that she doesn't have to pose in a bikini to keep her sponsors...
  • 6 14
flag curendero (Jan 28, 2020 at 15:04) (Below Threshold)
 Wouldn’t hurt tho????
  • 9 2
 @curendero: lots of bikinis on the internet... sit down lil bro and be humble
  • 1 0
 Reminds me of the day when I too suffered a timing glitch in a local DH race. After my qualifier my result was about one minute worse than I expected. It was a muddy and greasy track but I did reasonably well on that day. I went to the refs and explained. They found the error and corrected my time, but woundn't manage to change the starting order of final run anymore. So I had a bunch of really slow guys starting in 30sec intervals in front of me. Think I overtook 3 of them. My final run result was not so great, but I did have a lot of fun on the way down!
Still love to watch the footage now and then.
  • 4 0
 Wonderful to see long interviews like this
  • 3 2
 Good interview Ross. Can’t wait for more.

“ That would have been cool but you know I didn't want to win it that way. It was more wow, from 17th to 2nd in to hours!”

Should that be “two hours”?
  • 3 0
 Sat once in gondola with her at CW Les Gets, she is super chilled and awesome Smile
  • 2 0
 Yeah Pom Pom! Way to study and have fun on the bike. And thanks for talking about how fake Instagram is. Enjoy the ride! Commencal team is on fire right now! Have fun! Merci!
  • 1 0
 Just so you know, it's Pom Pon. As in Myriam Nicole, MN, poM poN.
  • 4 1
 Love her commitment. Always gives it 100%
  • 3 2
 I really love all these interviews but I’m a lazy person, could you guys record the interviews at least the audio and post that as well.
  • 7 4
 i think she's my favorite rider, including mens in the sport, i love her
  • 2 0
 ALLEZ POMPON!!! It will be a tough battle with Tahnee for the World Cup overall I predict.
  • 2 0
 Wow I didn't realise Pom Pom has been through so many horrible injuries. Amazing determination to keep on powering through.
  • 5 3
 Impressive personality. Great role model.
  • 2 0
 such determination, keep up the good work pom pom!
  • 2 0
 Really great article. Will be cheering Myriam on this year for sure
  • 6 5
 Great article about one of the nicest women in the sport!!
  • 2 2
 She's incredible, hung out with her at the afterparty at Worlds in MSA. So humble and down to earth.
  • 1 0
 She has the eye of the tiger!
  • 1 0
 Never once asked her where the nickname PomPom came from... :/
  • 3 0
 PomPoN ! That was the name of her pony when she was little...
  • 2 1
 commencal is on fire !!
  • 1 0
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