Vali Höll capped off an outstanding season by winning the World Cup for the all-around downhill. We spoke to Sulbacher about the last great moments and respecting the danger.
She may not be able to achieve everything: downhill mountain bike will not be included in the Olympic program in 2028. Valley Hall also returned home without a trophy in the elections for Austrian athletes – but it was in the top three as “Rising Star of the Year” . Wherever she was able to get involved in sports herself, there was no way she could beat the 21-year-old exceptional athlete this year.
Editorial Board:Salzburg Athlete of the Year, world champion and World Cup winner in one season – what can be added to that?
Valley Hall: It’s really cool. I don’t really know how to deal with this yet. But I think you can never win enough titles. It doesn’t mean I don’t have any motivation anymore. I still want to win a bunch of World Cups and get faster and faster. The racing circus is just an incredibly cool spectacle.
In the final race of the season in Canada, she gave the competition a real lesson, taking a lead of more than 13 seconds. Was your prosperity limitless?
You’ve already got the overall victory for sure. Racing without stress – You don’t get that opportunity very often. It was important for me to finish the season on a high. The road at Mont Sainte Anne is very long and very difficult – I showed what I can do there and I’m really happy that it worked out that way.
With all the daring your risky sport requires, can anything scare you?
I have great respect for our sport and I know what the consequences are. For example, many athletes suffer from concussion symptoms for a long time. You are on the ground very quickly and it is often very painful – we are not flying in the snow, but we might hit a stone or a tree. But I would say everything is pretty much under my control 99 percent of the time (laughs).
How do you see the concept of mountain biking in Austria currently? Have your successes really made a difference?
I hope. I think we get more attention and are in the media more often. This is still not enough compared to other sports, but recent successes – also with men through Andy Kolb or with girls in cross country – clearly help.
You also care about giving kids input…
Yes a lot. Before I traveled to the USA, I organized a children’s day in Saalbach with Raiffeisen. It was amazing how many children attended and how motivated they were. Last year there was a “Valley Hall Performance Camp”, unfortunately that did not happen this year, but next year we will be planning something again with Red Bull.
How can you reassure parents so that they do not completely lose their temper?
There is no recipe and I cannot reassure anyone. It depends on how much children are willing to take risks. Even my mom still gets really nervous at races. In fact, it gets worse every year and I don’t know why (laughs).
What is the best place to recharge batteries at home?
Here at the Spielberghaus in the forest, where you go up to the “Amsel” on the Bernkogel, this is my favorite place.
What other sports fascinate you?
I was participating in ski races and at some point I had to decide whether I wanted to continue skiing or cycling. I still love skiing – especially freestyle skiing. I hope there will be more snow this winter than last. That was sad.
Would “Alpine Downhill” be something for you too?
If I had pursued a career in skiing, I would definitely have become a speed runner. Super-G and downhill – that would have been mine.
Now you rule the world of downhill mountain bike. Are you already thinking about organizing the next World Cup on your home soil in Leogang in 2028?
This is really far. I’m only 21, so there’s still a lot going on in the next five years. I’ll take it season by season and then we’ll see. Now I want to calm down a bit, then I will start fitness training again in November.
“Internet nerd. Avid student. Zombie guru. Tv enthusiast. Coffee advocate. Social media expert. Music geek. Professional food maven. Thinker. Troublemaker.”