Photo: 2016 Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds competing with her Team 31 outfit (Credits: Joakim Rissveds/Team 31) - Free editorial usage granted with credits. Click on the image to download it
When she won the Olympic XCO title in Rio de Janeiro aged 22, it looked like Swede Jenny Rissveds was on the top of the World. Sometimes, though, sport and life don’t trend the same way.
For Jenny, the biggest achievement in sport was actually the beginning of the toughest juncture of her life. The now-25-year-old struggled to cope with the pressure involved with becoming the biggest name in mountain biking. She simply stopped enjoying the sport she used to love and had to back down from it to rediscover herself.
In 2019, Mountain Biking and the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup were delighted to welcome Jenny Rissveds back in the circus, with a new project and a whole new mentality, and she will be lining up on Sunday August 4th in Val di Sole, on the day dedicated to the Cross Country World Cup races. The event will be starting next Friday, August 2nd, with the Cross Country Short Track and the 4Cross World Championships, whilst on Saturday August 3rd the program will continue with the Downhill World Cupraces as well as the Electric Snake, the first eMTB short track to take place during the Val di Sole World Cup weekend.
“Indeed, now I enjoy MTB in a different way,” Rissveds explained. “For me, these two years of a slightly different life and much time for contemplation and thoughts in general have changed not only my outlook on our sport but also life in general. So, all in all, I would say I am now able to enjoy it even more. Because I have a better understanding of the bigger picture.”
After getting back in the World Cup top-10 in Nove Mesto, Jenny is expected to factor in the battle for the top positions again in Val di Sole, where she had managed to win in 2015 as Under 23. “In Val di Sole I will look to follow my own path and stick to our team strategy. I prefer natural courses, and Val di Sole certainly feels very natural, so I like it a lot. The atmosphere is great, as well as the area itself. I especially enjoy the Noce river that runs along the course area and I am already looking forward to some cold baths in that one.”
Rissveds’ return to MTB came with her very own project, one whose scope goes well beyond the sport. “Team 31 is all about creating awareness and inspire our youth to be active and through activity inspire to a healthier and potentially better life. It is built around article 31 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child which deals with children’s rights to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. My motivation comes from wanting what I do on a daily basis to mean more than “just” the result that day.”
By looking at the bigger picture, Jenny has found the silver lining of being an Olympic Champion: becoming a formidable ambassador of a cause she cares about.“I am able to say that I am onto something. Something that now gets me out of bed and enjoy both life and biking in a different way. Something that I want to evolve with and around. And I hope it will give everyone else at least a little something as well!”
Generosity is also the byword for another project looking to contribute to the Val di Sole organization. “Operazione Mato Grosso” is an association of youngsters from Trentino who spontaneously get involved into different manual activities in order to devolve their compensation to people in need. A group of people from the association has been working with the Grandi Eventi Val di Sole team to clean and set up the racing courses. Another charity association, Volo Libero, will be in charge of a catering kiosk at the start of the Downhill course, also devolving the returns into charity activities.
As in Team 31’s case, it starts with sports and MTB, but it ends well beyond it.
Malé, Saturday July 27th, 2019
Photo: Jenny Rissveds (center) on the top step of the podium in Val di Sole's Under 23 Women's XC Race in 2015 (Credits: Andrea Ziliani) - Free editorial usage granted with credits. Click on the image to download it