Evie finished 2021 with a world championship, two World Cup wins and second on the World Cup overall
Evie Richards’ spectacular last three weeks began with a World Championship, and ended with her most dominant victory yet. On the very last day of the XC season, she went solo on Lap 2 and only widened her lead over the next 45 minutes of racing.
Richards crossed the finish line in Snowshoe with a 1:30 gap over second place Rebecca McConnell, winning her second World Cup race of the year and jumping up to second place on the World Cup overall after entering the day in fifth.
As Richards came down the finish stretch, she put her hair up and high-fived the raucous crowd. After the race, she was stunned by what she had accomplished to close the season.
“I won and I’m second in the overall. I did not think in Albstadt that this was going to be my season,” Richard said after the race. She opened World Cup racing in May with a 25th-place finish in Albstadt. “I cried so much then. So I’m just speechless. I can’t believe it.”
Richards took control of the race in Snowshoe from the start, sprinting quickly from the line to give herself a clean path through the deceptively twisty opening meters, and avoiding a big crash just behind her. Early in the second lap, she and Rebecca McConnell together took a 14-second over third place Jenny Rissveds, and appeared to be gearing up for a long duel.
But then bad luck struck McConnell, who suffered a flat front tire. She gave up roughly 20 seconds to Richards with the mechanical issue, and though she would take an impressive second place, she wouldn’t challenge the World Champion again.
Richards grinded away all alone for most of the race, pulling time away from her rivals. But although she won with a healthy margin, the race was hardly easy.
“I was quite stressed in the race. It was really hard to hear the splits because the crowd was so noisy,” Richards said. “I was just riding my race, but also knowing that if someone came up to me, I still had a bit more room to push. So I felt really in control but also a little bit stressed because I didn’t know who was behind me or what the split was or anything.”
Richards’ win capped a perfect weekend of racing. On Friday, she won the short track event in a thrilling sprint over teammate Jolanda Neff, who has also had an incredible season, winning Olympic gold in Tokyo. Neff finished ninth on Saturday
Although the crowd noise was a hindrance during the race, Richards seemed to bask in the atmosphere as she crossed the line. Her large gap meant that she could take some time for herself during the race, no doubt relieved and happy to coming out on top at the end of a long season.
“It was amazing. I even had time to take my gloves off and put my hair up,” Richards said. “This crowd is just insane. The only thing that would make it better would be to have my mum and dad here with a flag, but I’m sure they’re going to be crying at home and super happy.
“But I love being in America. They really do lay on the best races.”