Interview: Downhill world champion Tracy Moseley
By Ric McLaughlin | Saturday, October 16, 2010 7.00am
Tracy Moseley celebrates winning the women's 2010 Downhill World Championship while arch rival Sabrina Jonnier looks on Sebastian Schieck
“OH MY GOD!” Tracy Moseley and half of the rest of the diners around us recoil in shock. We’re sitting in the domed enclosure of the Venetian hotel/shopping complex in Las Vegas. Clouds are painted on the huge roof, imported pigeons flap around and artificial lights slowly dim inducing a faux night.
Bizarrely, while pouring us some balsamic vinegar, our waitress has managed to detonate the thin glass bottle, drenching herself, the floor and the new world champion's feet in the process.
“I wouldn’t mind so much but I absolutely hate the smell of the stuff!” Tracy’s face crumples and we politely move tables. The waitress flaps a bit as her manager profusely apologises, Moseley sees the funny side though and dabs Modena’s finest off her toes.
We’re here to cover the Interbike trade show and have ducked out to grab something to eat with Tracy and boyfriend James before they take a six-week break and head off in an RV to spend some time travelling. Conversation naturally turns to this year's World Championships in Canada.
“I felt pretty normal all week leading up to the Worlds,” Tracy says. “If you ask James though, he says that I was a stranger. I had to watch Neko [Mullaly, Tracy's junior Trek World Racing team-mate] miss out on by just 0.06 seconds and it made me realise just how easy this thing is to have in your grasp and lose. I knew I had to attack and give it my all. I couldn’t have beared to come away and know that I didn’t put everything into it.”
It paid off – Moseley beasted the race and finished seven-and-a-half seconds ahead of old nemesis Sabrina Jonnier. “I still keep getting little moments when I smile to myself,” she grins bashfully. “I catch a glimpse of the jersey and realise that it finally belongs to me.”
After 13 attempts at taking the biggest of all prizes, including two silver medals (once as a junior), Tracy had begun to doubt that she’d ever get her hands on the rainbow striped jersey. “I'd started to think that I might have to walk away from the sport without winning the Worlds,” she shrugs, almost playing it down. “Steve’s [Peat] win last year, though, gave me hope – it made me realise that maybe I still had time.”
Like Peat before her, Tracy is adjusting to the responsibilities of being world champion. “Yeah, I do feel that there's a certain role," she says. "I straight away felt that I should continue racing next year as it feels right that the world champion should be at all the races in the jersey.”
What else does Moseley think the role entails? “I also feel a slight obligation to try and get to as many events as possible next year, support the UK Nationals and even some smaller regional races. It’s a nice way of being able to put something back into the sport.”
So was retiring at the end of 2010 really an option? “It was my 10th full World Cup season. In some ways it gets easier, as the courses don’t seem as hard as I first found them and all the years of experience help make the most out of every race. But in other ways the travel and visiting many of the same venues gets quite tiresome year after year."
Tracy mid-way through the blistering run at Mont-Sainte-Anne that won her the coveted rainbow stripes
Tracy rolls her eyes. “It’s still fun though, and the World Cups always have such good atmospheres and, of course, they're big races that are there to be won so it’s still always exciting.”
The women’s race was more open this year than perhaps ever before; who did she see as the one to beat? “I think now in the women’s race there are four or five girls that can win on any given day," says Tracy. "I always feel that Sabrina is a threat, as whatever the course she can always raise her game on race day and she had won at [World Champs venue] Mont-Sainte-Anne before.
"Rach [Rachel Atherton] was definitely someone you can't rule out, especially as she won the World Cup the weekend before the Worlds so she had some confidence going into the race. Emmeline Ragot,” Tracey smiles. “She beat me last year when I least expected it so I knew I could never count her out either, so it could have been anyone’s day.”
Her new-found stripes aren’t just important to Tracy, however – for her sponsors Trek it’s a massive deal. The Session DH is still a relatively new bike and marks a monumental shift back to the sharp-end of racing for the US company. For it to win a world title is a huge deal. “My bike's been on its travels already!” Tracy laughs.
“First it went to the Trek Session and Top Fuel launch, then it went to Interbike to be on display at the Trek booth at the outdoor demo and then inside on the Motorex stand. I hope it's on its way home now. When I’m home I'm supposed to be doing a tour of some UK dealers with it and after that I hope to hang it on the wall as a special memory for years to come.”
The bill arrives complete with balsamic deductions, typically of Vegas, though it’s still plastic-warping. I tell Tracy that after talking to Steve Peat shortly after his World Champs victory last year he spoke about a monumental relief and a new-found enthusiasm for racing. Does she feel the same? “Most definitely,” she shakes her head in confirmation.
"After chasing this title for so many years I do feel a massive weight off my mind. I feel totally satisfied that I've achieved everything I set out to achieve in this sport and could now walk away from it content. However, I still want to keep racing and I know I'll definitely enjoy my racing a lot more from now on knowing that I’m the World Champ and that I have nothing else to prove.”
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Tracy takes on some treacherous roots at the 2010 World Cup round in Leogang, Austria
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