We Are The Champions - Part 1: Holly Feniak
The first instalment of our World Champs Interviews, starting with Holly Feniak, female Junior World Champ.
The first of four, this interview sets the ball rolling for our World Champions web feature. Morgane Charre, Loic Bruni, and Greg Minnaar will also make an appearance, a week at a time.
So without further ado, here's Junior World Champion Holly Feniak. A blisteringly fast 17-year-old, she came into the Champs at Leogang last year an unknown quantity, and left with a convincing win of eight seconds under her belt. What more can be said?! Well, this...
So Holly, how’s the winter season going?
The winter season has been great for me so far, been having lots of fun riding at home on the Sunshine Coast and skiing in Whistler!
Are you doing the full set of World Cup/ Champs rounds this year?
Big news then – we’ve just heard you’re on Hutchinson United Ride! How did that come about?
Didn’t you see the video?! I’m the new truck girl!
Just kidding. It was a pretty simple procedure, I met with Fabien and Magalie at Interbike, we all fell in love with each other, then the conversation flowed from there and next thing you know Tracey and I decided that we both wanted to dominate but needed female partners in crime to do so, and now we have this awesome plan to rule the podiums and get other chickas stoked on being strong and beautiful and excited about mountain biking! That’s how I thought it went down.
Before you won Champs last year, most of us over the pond had very little idea who you were… Has the change from a fast but lesser-known rider into the Junior World Champ been a huge jump?
Not really, no... Life is pretty normal other than I have more friends on Facebook now. Haha! What an accomplishment! No, the opportunities have definitely opened up for me which has been great, it’s nice to see things finally coming together! I think this season will be different, I haven’t raced since Worlds so it’s hard to say!
Onto different topics, you did a slightly risqué photoshoot for another mountain biking website a while ago… or at least you’d think so from the comments storm! Do you regret that at all?
No way! Why regret when you can learn? I was super surprised how people responded... the comment tsunami was inevitable with a website like that, there are a lot of viewers who are strongly opinionated and feel the need to share their opinions, argue about it, and share some more, get mad, cyber fight with people over it, and make a huge deal. You can’t not expect to be criticised as a female in a man’s world. I was fully clothed, and in all honesty, Ian [Hylands] and I went into that shoot with zero sex appeal intention. We had this vision of “Holly’s on fire this season" with steam and a really cool, natural setting... which ended up being some gorgeous hot springs we drove forever to get to. It was a really cool trip! I can’t be held responsible for how other people interpret photos of me that are so far from risqué in my opinion. I had my boyfriends mom, and my my own mother and father, AND brother laughing at people commenting furiously… saying “what’s wrong with the photo??"
There are thousands of athletes across the globe that are proud of their bodies - posing for magazine covers, looking sexy and beautiful. Many of them being men!! I can't even count the amount of half naked man photos I've seen for advertising. Has anyone checked out the female surf industry lately? Near-thong bikinis while they compete. This is just our world today. Some people can't handle the fact that there are really hot, talented women out there, such as my fellow GoPro Athlete, Alana Blanchard. Damn, that girl looks amazing, was recently just chosen to compete at the 2013 Surf World Champs, sets a very positive-healthy-fit body image for other women, and is involved in some serious charity action. Inspiring? Hell yeah. I was so frustrated for Lindsey Vonn because of the critics saying how Outside Magazine’s most recent cover looked like a GQ cover or other men’s magazines. She was fully clothed, looking like she belonged on the cover of Vogue. Lindsey is stunning, successful, young, and a WOMAN... so let her look like one! I’m sure she didn’t feel like doing another photo shoot in her ski gear! No! She wanted to wear something gorgeous! That doesn’t make her a bad role model for younger girls. I could honestly rant about this one for your entire magazine!! But, at the end of the day what matters is that you are happy with the person you are, and I loved and still love that shoot and the photos we created. If you were a person who saw the photos as sexually suggestive, then I apologize, but that is your own problem. I recommend trying not to focus so much on negative things, and open up to all the positive things that I, and many other athletes are doing contributing to healthy communities in the sports that we love.
How do you manage to balance training and racing with school?! Most people have enough trouble managing just one!
I do online schooling, it makes it a bit easier to manage the schedule!
What are your goals for this year then?
To have fun! Enjoy myself in the moment as much as possible. It’s really easy to get too serious and let time just pass you by along with the race seasons. Every summer since I was 12 I’ve been racing, and now it takes up the winters for training too. So it’s extra important to enjoy every single day. I would also like to get some good race results in on the WC circuit, and hopefully another medal at World Champs in South Africa.
Your inspiration? Did any one thing (or person) get you into bikes? Anyone you’d like to follow?
For me it’s always been about the friends I have made, the times we’ve shared and the adventures our bikes have taken us on. When you’re riding with some awesome people, yelling, laughing, and screaming down the mountain because it’s so fun and you’re going so fast... such a rush! That’s what inspires me! My whole family loves mountain biking and from a young age every summer we would go on big road trips across BC to all the hot riding spots, meeting many people and making friends along the way. I have so many wonderful memories and adventures associated with mountain biking that it truly holds a special place in my heart.
Is it just downhill you’re interested in? It seems a lot of downhillers are trying their hands at enduro… Worth a look?
Enduro is definitely on the rise. Now when you talk to sponsors it seems like the first they they ask is “are you doing any enduro races too???" Haha! It’s awesome. I’d love to try it. I love XC, big mountain trail riding, and a fitness challenge so it seems like a good fit.
Finally, are you in this for the long-run?
It’s hard to say exactly what I’ll be up to in three years from now, so you will have to stay tuned!
Thanks Holly! And good luck for next year with the Hutchinson UR Team.