Video: Kate Courtney Delves Into the Roots of her MTB Career in Episode 1 of 'Rising'

May 13, 2019 at 8:50
by SCOTT Sports  

bigquotesI grew up at the base of a mountain and that has shaped who I am. I've always been looking up.Kate Courtney

Join us for the first episode of Rising as we go to the roots of Kate Courtney’s mountain bike career.

Despite her young age of 23, Kate Courtney belongs on the list of the most influential cyclists. Kate inspires people inside and outside mountain biking through authentic character and perseverance as an athlete. Each chapter will take a personalized look at Kate’s journey so far and goals to come as she looks towards the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Legend has it that mountain biking was invented on a fire road called Repack on Mount Tamalpais in California. Kate was raised at the base of that mountain, a place where mountain biking has always been a part of the fabric of the community. In the 1970s, mountain biking pioneers such as Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and others held their first bike rides on gravel roads in that area just outside San Francisco.

bigquotesGrowing up riding here surrounded me with the idea that mountain biking is special, and the mountain is special.Kate Courtney

From a tandem bike to a rainbow jersey, mountain biking is something Kate shared with family. Growing up Kate would spend her Sundays together with her dad riding to get pancakes. It was her dad who shared the love for mountain biking and taught her how to ride a bike. Today Kate credits the support system of her parents, boyfriend, mechanic, and team as key part of her success.

bigquotesFor both of us I think it’s the most special thing that we can go out and ride in the rainbow jersey on Mount Tam, and it doesn’t feel so different than it did when I was little.Kate Courtney

Kate’s connection to mountain bike racing started when she joined the Branson High School Mountain Bike team as a Freshman. She won her first race at Fort Ord and quickly progressed becoming the first American woman to win a UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in the Junior category in 2012. After graduating high school in 2013, Kate went on to Stanford University to study human biology balancing school and racing. In 2017, she won four U23 World Cups earning the U23 Overall World Cup victory. In her first year as an Elite, she placed top 10 at six World Cups before coming from behind to take the 2018 Elite XC World Championships in Lenzerheide.

Kate started the 2019 season strong taking the Pan-American Championship Title and top three at the Sea Otter Classic. Catch Kate at all eight stops of the 2019 UCI XCO Mountain Bike World Cup as she looks to defend her rainbow jersey.

From racing US Kids Cups to the top of the World Championship podium, Kate is a source of inspiration for all ages. At the Sea Otter Classic, Kate shared her story with the Little Bellas Mountain Bike Organization.

bigquotesSeeing fans that genuinely want you to do well, and are excited you’re there and came to watch you – that’s an incredible thing that is so unique and rare in life. To take an extra moment to sign a jersey for a kid or talk to them about their mountain bike might actually make a difference in what they do. That is something so special and I have the opportunity to do. I see that support and those fans as fuel pushing me forward.Kate Courtney

Video: Etienne van Rensburg
Photos: Etienne van Rensburg, Courtney Family, Devon Balet



  • + 35
 She is the best thing to happen to Mountain Biking in the USA! We support Kate and everything she stands for! Cheering u on in 2019!
  • + 14
 I'm really hoping for a clean race with no mechanicals, flats or crashes so we can really see where all the ladies are this year in terms of fitness and preparation. I can only imagine Kate has gotten stronger with all the resources she will have at her disposal from Scott-Sram. Gunna be an EPIC season! Also rooting for Ellen Noble, Savilia Blunk, Chloe Woodruff and Erin Huck!
  • + 8
 But Jolanda Neff's two mechanical and the tenacity for her to take 1st place was the best thing I ever seen in a XC race. But also rooting to Kate this season!
  • + 1
 @femto505: I totally agree with you. I couldn't believe Jolanda got the win in that race. That was insane. She's incredible. I can't wait to see them all race again. That was the best racing of the year last year.
  • + 12
 Looks like her pops deserves a lot of credit too - $uccessful AF and time to spend on the bike with a young KC. Go Norcal! DVs be damned.
  • + 3
 That estate in Kentfield! What do her folks do? Definitely props to them. Work/life/family ethics to strive for.
  • + 7
 "Base of the mountain" has a little different meaning when you are talking about some of the most expensive/desirable real estate in the world. Feels like the copy is attempting to put a gritty, rootsy spin on her upbringing, which seems a stretch when the high school mentioned costs $40K a year.

But - in no way should this level of privilege cast a negative light on Kate's upbringing, obviously solid parenting, and inherent ability or aspirations.
  • + 13
 Yeah I mean let's be honest. Mtb is a pretty privileged sport all things considered; bikes aren't cheap, parts aren't cheap, races aren't cheap, travel etc. She has taken those opportunities and ran with them for sure, just makes it a bit easier when you aren't working in a bike shop to pay for your next tire.
  • + 3
 It would be interesting to hear at what point Kate's expenses were being paid as a result of her talent and success (ie by sponsors), or if her parents were footing the bill for the a lot of those highschool Junior-level races.

I know she was sponsored by Specialized in 2013, and raced on Whole Athlete-Specialized Racing as a Junior since 2008. Were sponsors paying racing costs back then?
  • + 4
 @PHeller: The “Whole Athlete” Specialized and Trek “Bear Development” teams that have (sadly) come to dominate the High school NICA race scene in California essentially work by parents paying tens of thousands per year for their kids to get discounted frames/parts, coaches, and access to clinics. It’s not at all the same as being sponsored but can lead there.
  • + 5
 @bridgermurray: Supporting your kid's high-level sports programs falls on the parents. Hell, even Travel-ball baseball is crazy $$. We do what we can for the kids
  • + 2
 @endlessblockades: No kidding. My son plays travel soccer and even if he was offered a spot on the A team we couldn't afford it because of all the travel they do- tourneys all over the country.

Even on the B team there is enough travel (car) that I'm lucky enough to earn hotel points while traveling for work that pays for our rooms when we travel for his games.
  • + 1
 @bridgermurray: don’t forget Scott!
I race NorCal division 2 and at the starts they always say that there is no difference between d1 and d2 teams and the running joke is “well WE don’t have a team chef”
  • + 7
 Riding mountain bikes with your kid. Oh yeah, and she's just the world champ. Life goals.
  • + 7
 I have two young daughters that love to ride and explore. I can't wait to show them this video. Great content!
  • + 7
 I hope lots of young riders see this video and are inspired by it. Best of luck this season!
  • + 5
 She is definitely changing and will change the attitude toward MTBers in Marin and the SF Bay Area/Santa Cruz. Not the most MTBer friendly place on the planet.
  • + 2
 He isn't riding a Specialized with all that Scott kit on is he? Forgive me if I'm wrong because I am old and don't see as well as I used to.
  • + 2
 Great riding trails on Mount Tam are legendary. And by legendary, I mean 'they don't exist anymore'.
  • - 1
 Back in the mid 90s Tam was already off limits to non equestrians. There were some really angry folks out hunting violators. I’m glad she grew up being able to ride but I don’t remember any of those nice trails being legal. Is it possible that parent mtb money made progress against the equestrian money?
  • - 3
 @captaingrumpy: She recently graduated from Stanford too... makes you wonder...
  • + 3
 what a mint location....hungry for it for sure.
  • + 1
 Great piece of your life,good luck
  • + 1
 Great Daddy.
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