In elegant fashion, the Scott-Odlo team finished off their dynamite season by following up dual World Champion titles with what can be described as a cherry on top: dual Olympic titles in both mens and women's Mountain Bike XC. Their youngest member of the team, but by no means less prolific, Jenny Rissveds powered away from her next closest competitor in the final lap to win her race by over 30 seconds. Her win at the Rio Olympics made her the youngest woman to have ever won the XC race in its 20 year history. Rissveds is also the only woman to hold a World Championship title (U23 MTB XC) while simultaneously earning an Olympic title. We were able to catch Jenny as she transitioned to her off season and hear about her season.
First, thank you for taking the time after your huge win at the Olympic games just this last weekend. I believe this to be the biggest win of your career so far. Congratulations on everything you have accomplished this year, it has been great to watch your advancement.
Has it sunk in yet, your accomplishments from the season?
Thank you so much! No it hasn’t… For me it’s hard to believe that my first year in the elite category turned out so good. I could not even dream of a season successful like this.
Watching you it the race, you appeared so comfortable without giving away how hard you were working. At what point did you know you had the race in hand and it was yours?
I felt comfortable sitting in the 2nd position after Maja. As I said I couldn't even dream of success like this, so my thoughts at that point was ”if I just keep this together I will finish 2nd”. But then I started to think that I actually could win the race so I started to ride for the gold medal. In the end of the last climb, just before I droppen into the last decent I thought ”stay on your wheels and you are going to win”.
It’s no shock to say you are on a team of living legends in Nino Schurter and Thomas Frischknecht, what’s it like being on the same team as them? How would you say they’ve helped you in your time with the team?
Without the team I’m pretty sure I wouldn't be where I am today. First of all we ride the best bikes with the best components on the market. But what is as important as the material is the team spirit. For sure their experience and knowledge helps me a lot to improve but I also appreciate their personalities and that we always stick together as a small family.
Does being the only woman on the team effect how you train with the team? Or would you say this affects your dynamic with the team?
So far I have enjoyed the time being the only women in the team. They treat me like they treat each other and I don't think anyone of us think too much about that I’m the only woman in the team. Most of the time I train with Frischi. He is a perfect training partner for me. It is a win-win situation. He is still strong and good technically so I can take advantage of that, and as long as he follow my training schedule he stays fit ;)
Given your age, it’s notable that you are the only woman to have won Olympic gold while holding a World Champion title, while also being the youngest woman to have won the Olympic XC race. Where do you go from here?
Some people asked me ”what’s left now?”. For sure I want to win the Elite World Championships one day. I also want to work towards next Olympic Games. Actually I feel even more motivated now, I think I just proved myself that I am one of the fastest in the world, and I want to stay up there.
What do you do for the off-season? Do you cross train with CX or track? Or something non-bike altogether?
I do a lot of different things for training during winter. I swim, I ride my CX bike, I do cross-country skiing, I run and I ride on track. In my home city Falun you can find the only velodrome in Sweden.
What’s your favorite part of your bike? Do you have anything superstitious you do with your set up?
To be honest I’m not too much into the mechanic parts of my bike, but I’m getting there. Each race I learn something new about the bike. At the moment I like my Spark the most.
Do you ever name your bikes?
I did before. But since I got into the team I have too many bikes to name them.
While Nino is known for the drop he runs on his bike, how is your set up unique? How did you develop your riding style?
This season is my first season on a full suspension bike and I have to admit I struggled a little bit in the beginning to get use to it. I had to change my riding style to a little bit more aggressive style. But as soon I realized that and started to feel comfortable on the bike it felt like the best choice of bike.
How did you get into mountain bike racing? Who or what was your influence for entering the sport?
My dad started riding mountain bike and he did some racing in Sweden. Shortly after my two years older brother started to ride and then I also tried it out. I really enjoyed it and as a 7 years old I participated in my first mountain bike race.
What are some of your earliest memories of racing, and where did you find inspiration to pursue this as a career?
My inspiration and motivation came from joy. To ride my bike made me happy but at the same time it was challenging and it made me push my limits. I think it is super important to keep it fun and keep the balance between having fun and staying serious and focused.
What was an embarrassing early racing mistake you made that you learned the most from?
When I was 10, racing against the boys on a loop about 2 kilometers. I was sprinting full out from the start, shifted in the steepest climb about 500 meters in to the race. I snapped my chain and I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going for the win and that stupid chain could not even stay in one piece. What I learned from that is sometimes it is better to stay calm and be smart.
Last one: If Boonen is the Tornado, Vos is the Cannibal, what would your nickname be?
My nickname was given by Frischi in the beginning of last year, he calls me ”the Fox”. I will let the meaning behind that nick name unsaid ;)
Thanks, Jenny! We look forward to what lays ahead for you and the team.
All photos courtesy Scott-Odlo MTB Racing.