Comox mountain bike racer Emilly Johnston is pictured at the 2019 MTB World Championships. Photo by Andy Vathis

Comox mountain bike racer Emilly Johnston is pictured at the 2019 MTB World Championships. Photo by Andy Vathis

Two Comox Valley athletes re-join Cycling Canada MTB team

Two Comox Valley teens are among 47 athletes selected for Cycling Canada teams as coaches look ahead to the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Emilly Johnston of Comox and Carter Woods of Cumberland, both 18, will re-join the NextGen mountain bike program for the 2021 season.

“Both athletes bring exceptional work ethic, positivity and talent that raise the level of the whole group,” Jeff Ain, Cycling Canada’s mountain bike NextGen coach, said in a statement. “Both Emilly and Carter are focused on an international racing calendar for 2021 with a focus on performances at world cups and world championships in the U23 category.”

Woods has won numerous provincial and national titles. He is a two-time national junior champion who was runner-up at the 2019 Junior World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.

He considers himself lucky to be racing for the Norco Factory Team, which competed this year at world cups in the Czech Republic, and at world championships in Austria.

“Their support over the year was amazing and the team feels like family,” Woods said. “When being so far away from my home, this was very important to me. Our team was committed to each other to be as safe and healthy as possible, so we were able to complete the condensed schedule.”

He said he is focused and ready for what lays ahead in the coming season.

“I am super excited to be selected to the NextGen program. It is important to me to have the coaching and guidance of a program that is supportive both physically and mentally to help navigate this path we are on.”

Johnston is coming off a strong season. 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 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 for 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,” she said. “It was a huge honour to be one of the first Canadian women 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.”

Another highlight was winning the national championship jersey in 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 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.

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Emilly Johnston. Photo by Andy Vathis

Carter Woods. Photo by Andy Vathis

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