[Video] Rising: Kate Courtney The Mental Game

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Kate Courtney charged into the 2019 season wearing the rainbow jersey winning three back-to-back World Cups. It was clear she was ready to go all out but the winning streak didn’t hold out. She had to dig deep and keep the end goal in mind for the World Cup Overall. Like any champion knows, it’s not getting knocked down that matters, it’s getting back up and fighting on. In the final 2019 episode of “Rising” with Kate Courtney we dive into the Mental Game of Elite Mountain Bike Racing.


Coming into the season wearing the rainbow jersey meant all eyes were on Kate for 2019. Kicking it off with three World Cup wins added to the attention. In only her second year of Elite, the world was curious what this rising star could accomplish. But expectations and pressure can weigh heavily on a young athlete. This demanded a new level of mental strength from Kate.


Sustaining yourself as an athlete takes discipline. It’s a fine balance between knowing when to go all in or when to simply take a break-a skill that certainly isn’t natural for an athlete that achieves their level by being unusually good at pushing themselves when everyone else has long gone home. That being said, all athletes at any level will face highs and lows that they simply can’t train for. Experience is the only teacher.


After an intense training camp mid-summer, Kate came out exhausted and her results reflected that. She had to take a step back and remember why she was here in the first place: because #funisfast and #fastisfun, as the team says. She had to take the season in stride and focus on the bigger picture. It was a learning process where some days, just keeping a smile on her face at the end of the race was the main goal.


The 2019 season for Kate was a rollercoaster of highs and lows but the overarching goal never left her sight: World Cup Champion- an incredible feat for the 23-year-old racer in only her second year of elite racing. With a long list of learnings, she can head into the off season and towards the 2020 season and the Tokyo Olympics with heightened confidence to overcome whatever she may face.

Q: Can you summarize the season in a few words?

A: This season showed what is possible when you work hard with a great team around you, stay open to learning and remain optimistic in the pursuit of big goals.

Q: What would you say to another young athlete going through the highs and lows of a season to encourage them?

A: I love the quote, “It’s not the top of the mountain that sustains life, it’s the sides.” For me, remembering that it’s the journey and the climb that lead to those spectacular moments at the top helps keep in perspective the purpose of going out and giving your best every day – regardless of the result. It’s not always easy to enjoy the process and to trust it when things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, but pushing through those days is just as important to your success as enjoying the days where everything clicks.

Q: How have you stayed so mentally strong throughout the season?

A: My mental game is something I focus a lot on – and have great help with! I work with a sports psychologist and am lucky enough to be surrounded by a team that cares about me and believes in me. At the end of the day, one of my greatest strengths in this sport is my genuine love of riding my bike. I can always come back to the fact that riding with people I love brings me joy and gives me new motivation to stay optimistic and to push myself towards the next big goal.

Q: What is something you have learned from this season that you’ll carry forward?

A: This season I took away so many lessons! It was one of my most successful, rewarding and challenging seasons to date and has left me an ideal mix of confident, humbled and motivated heading into the Olympic year. One thing I have learned is that persistence pays off – you never know when you might be one step away from achieving a dream. If you stop moving forward, you may never know what might have been possible.

Q: What will the off season include for you?

A: A little rest and a lot of long rides to bakeries with my friends!

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