Hi, it’s Jolanda! Would you like to know my story? Here we go:
Born in Altstätten, St.Gallen, Switzerland on January 5th
First mountain bike race (and first win). Happy family times!
Racing the skills parcours at Swiss Bike Cups and lap races at regional races
6 years of xco racing at Swiss Bike Cups (winning the overall 5 times, accumulating 50 wins), many local races. Training group at home with the coolest kids group under the guidance of my parents
First international racing experience in the U19 (juniors) category. The 2010 European Championships in Haifa, Israel (my first trip in an airplane!) and World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, were an unforgettable experience! We got to race Junior World Cups where I could win in Champéry, Switzerland, and Val di Sole, Italy.
In 2011, the European Championships took place in Dohnany, Slovakia (my first championships win!) and the World Championships in Champéry, Switzerland. I could collect three World Cup wins in Offenburg, Germany; Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic; and Val di Sole, Italy.
In summer 2011, I finished my school education with the “Matura” diploma at the Kantonsschule am Burggraben St.Gallen. My main subject was Latin.
I became U23 World Champion - in my first year! The 4-year-span of the category usually favors older, stronger riders, but I managed to win it all in my first year. Swiss Champion, European Champion in Moscow, Russia, as well as World Champion in Saalfelden, Austria. In the World Cup series, I won 3 rounds: Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic; Windham, USA (photo); and Val d’Isère, France. My dad was with me on all trips as my mechanic, training partner and coach. My mum was often with us too, keeping all things in check and making sure the show was running smoothly.
Leading up to the season 2012, I spent three months in New Zealand. It was my first year without school and I couldn’t wait to discover the world and travel! I even got to do some racing and met lots of fun people who love to ride bikes.
Stepping up to elite level at the world cup circuit was an opportunity I was longing for for years. I took it with both hands and finished 6th overall in the elite ranking. At the championships I raced in the U23 class. I could claim the gold medal and world champion title for the second year running in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (photo).
During the winter 2012-2013 I did the Swiss Sports Army, 18 weeks of education (formation, shooting, first aid, etc.) and training in Magglingen with courses in media training, mental training, nutrition, recovery, massage and an education for military sports teacher. It was an intense and entertaining time.
My second year aboard the Liv Racing Team meant all pieces fell into place. I could learn a lot from all my team mates: Maja (photo), Fabi, Michiel, Emil. As the youngest rider in the history of the sport, I won the Overall World Cup title in the elite ranks. In the U23 class, I won my third straight world champion title.
In 2014 Edi Telser became our national coach at the Swiss Cycling federation. It was the first time we had a women’s specific national coach and therefore a big step for us. Until today, Edi is working with me in this position.
For the second year in a row I could win the overall world cup! This title brought my total elite world cup win count up to 6. I still belonged to the U23 class in championships, but thanks to my 3 previous wins at world championships, the UCI gave me a very special permission to race in the Elite class, something they have never done before. I won the European Championships! In the elite class. At world championships in Andorra, I suffered from a bronchitis but still finished the race in 9th place.
I won the European Games in Baku, Aserbaidschan (photo). It was the first (and last) time we got to do this event. We had a great time with the Swiss team.
That year, I did some road racing and won the Swiss championships (what a race!) which earned me a spot on the national team for world championships. So once the MTB season was done, I flew to the United States where I raced the road world championships in Richmond, Virginia. I finished in the leading group in 9th place.
At the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I brought home a 8th place in the road race and a 6th place in the mountainbike race.
I won two MTB World Cup rounds that year in La Bresse, France (photo; starting from 3rd row, had a crash, flat tyre and still won solo…) and Vallnord, Andorra, as well as the European Championships in Jöngköping, Sweden.
I’ve never done a marathon race before until that year in Riva del Garda, Italy, where I won, and then at the marathon world championships in Laissac, France, where I won the gold medal.
On the road, I won the general classification of the Tour of Poland and finished on 3rd place at the world tour race Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Cittiglio, Italy. It was a packed year filled with many wins at international XCO races as well.
World Champion! In Cairns, Australia, I won the rainbow stripes and the gold medal in the Elite XCO race. Two weeks before that, I already won the final round of the world cup series in Val di Sole, Italy.
My build up to this year was way different than anything before because after the Games in 2016 I started studying at the university in Zurich (history, English literature and French literature).
Racing a full year in the world champion stripes was fantastic. I made the most of it and won the overall world cup for the third time! The Kross Racing Team was home to me this year and therefore my friend Maja was by my side. It was a good year, once more including 3 world cup wins (Albstadt, Mont-Sainte-Anne, La Bresse… remember that one?)!
At the European championships in Glasgow, Scotland, I won my third title. At world championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, I wasn’t at my best anymore after a knee injury and finished on 4th place.
This year I decided to do some road racing again, which brought me another Swiss champion title and a participation at the road world championships in Innsbruck, Austria.
2nd place in the overall world cup, 2nd place at world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. 1st place at Swiss championships and 1st place at European championships in Brun, Czech Republic.
My first year aboard the Trek Factory Racing Team was a big change for me.
For the second year running I did some cyclocross racing during winter before the MTB season. I finished the world championships in Bogense, Denmark, on 5th place.
Swiss Champion for the 6th time after coming back from a life-threatening injury in December 2019. 6th place at World Championships in Leogang, Austria. It was a very short season due to Covid-19.
OLYMPIC CHAMPION! Trust the timing of your life.
All of this was only possible thanks to the amazing people who are with me every day and have been working with me for years, most of all my family, my Trek team and the Swiss Cycling federation. Thank you to every single one! Thanks to my amazing fans for all your support full of energy, your cheering, and your love for mountainbiking. Let’s gooooo!
Cross Country (XCO)
1st place at World Cup Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
2nd place at World Championships Les Gets, France
3rd place at World Cup Val di Sole, Italy
4th place at World Cup Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic
5th place at World Cup Snowshoe, USA
6th place at World Cup Lenzerheide, Switzerland
7th place at Swiss Championships, Leysin
8th place at World Cup Leogang, Austria
9th place at World Cup Albstadt, Germany
Short Track (XCC)
1st place at World Cup Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
1st place at World Cup Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic
1st place at Swiss Championships, Lugano
3rd place at World Cup Lenzerheide, Switzerland
3rd place at the overall World Cup
3rd place at World Championships Haderslev, Denmark
Wild and wonderful - two words to describe my 22 racing season. My year was marked by a return to the top of the podium at the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, as well as my first “perfect weekend” with a win in both XCC and XCO. I was the best Swiss rider at World Champs and European Champs, not just an easy achievement with three Olympic medallists in our team. My silver medal at worlds was furthermore a great personal achievement where I raced my best race of the year in the moment where it mattered most. I felt great on that day and was so stoked with my race. Wonderful!
Nonetheless, it was not just smooth sailing. Covid infections and other viruses took me out for multiple weeks when race season was in full swing. Missing weeks and weeks of training is a hard thing to come back from during any time of the year, but especially in between world cups where there is not a lot of time left to train with all the racing and traveling going on already. I am incredibly happy how I managed it and that I kept showing up at the races even though it would have been easy to take a step back. I travelled to every world cup and every championship. I finished in the top 10 at every single xco race. Wild!
My greatest achievement of the year is not a number or a result of a race, however. My greatest achievement is that I raced my first year as Olympic Champion with my heart still full of passion for the sport that I love, just like when I first entered the sport. It was my personal goal to act with dignity and handle all my additional responsibilities gracefully; to let jealousy pearl off my skin like a drop of rain pearls off my Santini rain jacket; to face adversity with a calm smile and the knowledge that the big picture counts more than an instant gratification for a lame action; to stay true to my path of justice; to stand up bravely for people that I care about; to finish my year with a sensation of fulfillment and contentment.
What happened was that I finished my season raging with hunger like a starving hyena in the savannah. I’ve never been to the Serengeti but I have a strong feeling that I know where my next trip will take me. Either there, or to the very top of every single podium. “Chase your dreams. Chase them until you’re out of breath. Then keep riding.” And that is, when you think about it, what gives your life a direction and a desire that no medal around your neck could ever give you. The sensation that you know what you want to do next and that you go do it with your whole heart. That you live every moment with so much intention and intensity that you can picture it in colors even years later. That your emotions fill you up to the brim so that you have to make sure you don’t overflow. That your soul is so grateful for what you get to do that you take whatever comes your way with open arms. That your spirit is free like a bird dancing through rainbows in the sky. In that sense, I keep going into next year with the same goal as I came into this year. I just got the confirmation that it is the perfect path to follow. Thank you, 2022. See you all next year, Jolanda