Lea Davison retires from international racing

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Lea Davison announced her retirement from international mountain bike racing on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old ended a career that began in 2000 that took her to two Olympics, two world championship podiums and five national titles in cross country and short track mountain biking. . She raced at the World Junior Championships later that same year finishing seventh, earning her a contract with the Devo team.

Her second NORBA National Championship came the following year, on snowshoes, and also where she raced the last World Cup of her career, some 20 years later.

“In 2001, when I was seventeen, I won a NORBA Junior National race in Mount Snow, Vermont. USA Cycling came to me and told me that my victory qualified me for the world championships. At that time, I had no idea that there were mountain bike world championships, an Olympic mountain bike race and that it was a profession,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I had found my calling. From that moment, I invested myself body and soul in my dream of going to the Olympics and becoming a professional athlete. I dedicated my life to professional cycle racing and wanted to get as far as possible in cycle racing.

According to USA Cycling, Davison will continue to race nationally, including starts in the Lifetime Grand Prix Series, where she will raise awareness, fundraise and ride for women’s empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights and environmental organizations. Davison plans to continue working with Garneau and plans custom kit designs for each race and recipient.

Lea Davison, Erin Huck, Chloe Woodruff and Hannah Otto (Finchamp) in Tucson, AZ in 2021. (Photo: Lea Davison)

Davison attended Middlebury College in Vermont from 2001 to 2005, where she planned a running career after winning the Vermont Division I cross-country running state championship. A running injury changed his athletic focus to mountain biking, but continued racing on the college alpine ski team. Davison won the collegiate national championships in cross-country and short-track mountain biking.

From 2011 to 2016, Davison was part of the Specialized Factory Racing team and then the Clif Pro team for the 2017-18 seasons, while finishing in the top 10 in the world championships for almost a decade.

Davison represented the United States at the London Olympics in 2012 and stepped on the podium at the world championships two years later. She again represented the United States at the Olympic Games at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished seventh place a few weeks after a silver medal at the world championships.

Andy Bishop, Davison’s longtime coach who guided her through her professional career, spoke admirably of her as an athlete and underlined her exemplary character.

“Lea embodies the dream athlete to coach: a consummate professional, a fierce competitor and an incredibly hard worker who is always ready to challenge herself and surpass herself. Yet what really sets her apart is her personality and her passion for life and helping others. She willingly shares her experience and advice with younger and established athletes, coaching them to create opportunities for growth and development in their love of sport; it works closely with its sponsors to create dynamic new opportunities for their products and marketing; she tirelessly fights for the equality, dignity and full inclusion of female athletes and the LGBTQ community.

“Of all the people I have known, I have never met someone who is so completely honest and gives their all to make the world a better place. Fortunately, the fact that Lea is withdrawing from the World Cup only means that she will be able to channel her energies into even more of her passions and pursuits,” Bishop said.

Jim Miller, USA Cycling’s athletic performance chief, echoed Bishop’s sentiments and noted Davison’s lasting impact in the sport.

“Lea was the icon of her generation. During a period of significant growth in mountain biking, Lea was the role model and inspiration to a generation of budding riders. It has always been a privilege to work with Lea and to have her on our national, world and Olympic teams,” Miller said.

Kate Courtney, Davison’s USA teammate and former world champion, also commented on Davison’s character.

“It’s one thing to be a great athlete and it’s another to be a great human being. Lea Davison is both. As a teammate for five years, I witnessed the incredible Lea’s ability to combine hard work and joy in pursuit of her dreams She has accomplished incredible things on the bike, a national champion, an Olympian and a world championship medalist, but she always took the time to get up as it goes up,” Courtney said.

“As a young athlete, she was an incredible mentor and friend who was willing to share in the highs and lows of competing at the highest level. Not to mention the sharing of the very small French hotel rooms that come with the job. She is fiercely loyal to her dreams, to her sport and to all who are lucky enough to be part of her entourage. I know that even though she takes a step back from World Cup racing, she will always have a place at the heart of the cycling community.

When Davison wasn’t racing, she was a strong advocate for women’s cycling, and along with her sister and college teammate and friend Angela Irvine, she formed Little Bellas. The program continues to make cycling accessible and fun for generations of girls new to cycling.

“Her legacy goes beyond her running results and can be seen in the athletes and young girls she mentored, especially the Little Bellas. For years to come, the results of America’s runners will be part of the the continuity of the path she helped blaze,” added Courtney.

“Lea has been a mentor, teammate and friend that I am forever grateful for and her support has had a significant impact on my cycling career. She took Team USA to World Cup and World Championship podiums and her success has been fundamental in helping the next generation make their mark on the biggest stage,” said Olympian Haley Batten. “Along with her results, she has been very invested in the development of women’s cycling and I know that she has been an inspiration to many young girls, including me. I’m excited to see all that she will accomplish in her next chapter.

Davison plans to stick with mountain biking, but instead of putting her toe on the line, she will continue to guide others.

“For me, it’s more than the results. Bike racing has given me friendships, victories and experiences that have far exceeded my wildest dreams. I have traveled the world. It gives me joy to give back to the sport that has given me so much and to mentor promising riders,” said Davison. “Create a team spirit [Team USlay] in an individual sport will remain one of my proudest accomplishments. I leave my World Cup career with immense gratitude for everything it has given me. I lived my life up to 10 at full volume.

“It has been an honor to have been able to race with Lea over the years, and I am even more grateful to call her a friend. Overall, Lea has been instrumental in creating an environment where competitors encourage and support each other. where we can celebrate each other’s success, but also challenge ourselves to be the best we can be. Lea will be the first to congratulate you at the finish line or offer her support or her help if you need it,” said Olympic teammate Erin Huck of Davison as a teammate and friend.

“Lea is also a fierce competitor and comes to the race with everything she has – you will never hear an excuse, and giving up is not an option. She runs with integrity and courage and finishes with a smile and ready to hug those who finish around her. Lea may be leaving racing internationally, but I look forward to seeing her continue to run and inspire in the United States and I know she will continue to have a meaningful and positive impact on our sport,” Huck added.

Davison expressed her gratitude for the memories and support of those around her, noting that she did not end or call it quits, but changed her path to help change the paths of others.

“It’s the village of people who support me that has really unleashed my full potential as a cyclist and a human. My wife Frazier, my family, Lucia, Jeff and Sabe, my coaches Andy Bishop and Bill Knowles, and my agent Erica Vessey have made my dream a reality. In twenty years of career, there are many people who have made my career what it is. There are my teammates, team managers, sponsors, mechanics, massage therapists and trainers, nutritionists, sports psychologists, sports physiologists, and my fans and supporters. There’s USA Cycling and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee,” she said. “To everyone who has played a part, you know who you are, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. What a fun ride!

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