Vali Höll is in the midst of an absolutely dominant season aboard her Trek Session
Vali Höll salted away her second straight downhill World Championship by the second split. Her winning run started innocuously with the third fastest time of the day at the first check, just a little more than half a second behind Nina Hoffmann. But at the second, she had a half-second lead on the field, and more than two seconds over Camille Balanche, who would eventually take silver.
The performance took even Höll by surprise.
“Honestly, I had no idea how this was going to go. I was so tired today. No energy, then I messed up a very important corner before the pedaling section. I just tried to pedal but I was so tired,” Höll said after the race. “To win on this kind of track, and to back it up as a two-time champion, is insane.”
Höll’s final winning margin of 2.02 seconds was more than double her margin in Les Gets last year. Now 21 years old, Höll is establishing herself as the dominant force in women’s downhill racing. To go with another year wearing the rainbow stripes, she also has World Cup victories in Leogang and Val di Sole this season.
Höll is consolidating her power after breaking out in 2022. That year began with a string of shaky (by her standards) performances, a series of small mistakes that kept her off the box for the first four World Cup races of the year. She turned a corner during her win in Andorra, which sparked a run that included another win in Mont-Sainte-Anne and her first World Championship.
Why the sudden change in fortune? Höll simply stopped caring so much.
“I found I was so over wanting to do well, that suddenly I was riding really well,” Höll told Trek Race Shop. “For me, it was not really a problem that the bike wasn’t working, or my fitness level wasn’t there. But as soon as I opened up to people my season and my performance got way better, and I enjoyed being at the races.”
Höll is not only in a groove, but growing every day as a rider. The World Championship course in Fort William is notoriously long and punishing. It requires confidence, patience, stamina and strength in measures greater than any other track in the world. A year ago, it might have been Höll’s nightmare. Today, it was the stage for a resounding victory by an athlete who is still just scratching the surface of her potential.
“Honestly, today I was so tired. I woke up and was so nervous,” Höll said after the race. “It was weird because at the World Cups I wasn’t nervous this year at all. I felt the pressure to keep my rainbow jersey. I just didn’t want to lose it. Because it’s so cool to have it and I know what comes with it.
“Even two year ago, I knew my riding was there. Just every time I mess up, it’s my head. But finally, I’m mature enough to become confident and bring it home.”
Höll is now a two-time World Champion, and her work has only just begun.