Two Comox Valley teens are among 47 athletes selected by Cycling Canada to join national teams as coaches look ahead to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.
Emilly Johnston of Comox and Carter Woods of Cumberland will join Cycling Canada’s mountain bike program for the 2021 season. The coaching staff will include former Olympians Tory Nyhaug, Joe Veloce and Tanya Dubnicoff.
Woods, 18, has won numerous provincial and national titles, Enduro events and races in the Canada Cup series.
Johnston, who is also 18, is coming off a strong season last year. She finished eighth and 13th respectively at races in Germany and the Czech Republic. In the latter, she had a big crash off the start that put her down into the mid- to low-30s, but managed to work her way up the field.
“It was so amazing getting to travel to Europe and compete,” said Johnston, who later placed ninth in her division at the MTB World Championships in Quebec. “It was a pretty incredible experience to race my first world championship event on home soil with all the spectators going wild for the Canadian team.”
She returned to Europe for the cyclocross world championships in Dubendorf, Switzerland, where she finished 16th, and an elite cyclocross World Cup in Hoogerheide in the Netherlands. Since there is no junior women’s cyclocross category at World Cup events, she raced with the elite women.
“There were thousands and thousands of spectators at both of the events, and to race with the best in the world is really cool. It was also a huge honour to be one of the first Canadian women to get the opportunity to race in the first ever junior world championship event for cyclocross. There had only ever been a U23 women, so it was a big step for girls in cycling.” Last season, Johnston also managed to win the national championship jersey in both xco mountain biking and cyclocross. It was the first time nationals included the junior women’s category.
“So it is really incredible to get to say that I was the first ever junior women’s national champion.”
Johnston continues to ride for Pendrel Racing, under the mentorship of 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Catharine Pendrel, and her husband Keith Wilson. She now lives in Victoria, and is studying economics in her first year of university. She is taking four courses and training full-time to prepare for her first competitive year in a complete World Cup circuit as an Under-23 racer.
“Which I’m really looking forward to,” Johnston said. “It’s different living away from home, and I miss Comox, but am also having a blast exploring a new city.”