Sixteen-year-old Sunshine Coast resident Holly Feniak proved that age doesn’t matter in downhill mountain bike racing when she scored the second-fastest overall women’s time at the Canadian National Championships in Mount-Ste-Anne, Que. July 7 and 8.
Clocking in just 1.79 seconds behind first-place finisher Casey Brown, Holly beat out pro-elite level seasoned riders who are years older than her and also won the junior downhill champion title in the process.
Because of her age, Holly must compete as a junior for the national and UCI World Championship races until she’s 19 years old — even though she has consistently been beating the times of many of Canada’s fastest pro elite racers since 2010.
This is her first year competing at the pro level for the UCI World Cup races (which don’t include a junior level) and so far she has won first place or earned a spot on the podium for every race she’s competed in. At her last race before the nationals, she won first place by beating two-time Canadian champ and World Cup medalist Micayla Gatto by almost five seconds.
Now that Holly is officially Canada’s national champion, she has qualified to compete at the World Championships in Leogang-Saalfelden, Austria, this August.
Holly and her supporters have launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to raise the necessary funds for her racing season and finance her trip to Austria. So far she has raised $3,730 and received a lot of support from some very generous people, but she still has a long way to go to reach her goal of $17,314.
“There’s not really any funding at the junior level,” Holly said. “And it takes quite a bit of money to race the entire season and then go to Europe in August.”
Holly said she wishes that more young women would get into the sport that has become her passion.
“I think they’d be really surprised at the opportunities that mountain biking brings. The culture of the sport is amazing — there are so many cool, inspiring people,” she said. “The travel aspect is really desirable, too. It’s a great sport for young women to get into.”
Holly hasn’t let the lack of competition at her age level bother her. If anything, it has inspired her to ride faster.
“I’ve spent my whole career comparing my times to the pros,” she adds.
Holly’s next race will be at the Canada Cup Final in Panorama, July 28 and 29.
After that she has three more races in B.C. before heading to Austria at the end of August — provided she’s able to raise the money to get there.
To learn more about Holly’s “Quest for the World Champs” fundraising campaign, go to: www.indiegogo.com/hollysquest.