Meet Mountain Biker Hailey Schiff


Photo credit: Randy Winzeler

Hailey Schiff, a recent graduate in environmental studies, began competing in mountain biking this season, but she’s already making the podium in local competitions. After taking home third in the Scott Enduro Cup in Deer Valley, we sat down to learn about her success in this rapidly growing sport.

Q: How long have you been mountain biking?

A: We have mountain biked my whole life, but it was two or three times a year, go for a little ride, nothing serious. My dad bought me a full suspension bike two years ago. So, this is my second season full-blown mountain biking.

Q: Why were you able to pick it up so easily?

A: I did a ton of road biking before, so I was comfortable on the bike. And I’ve been an amateur professional skier for the last couple of years, which taught me speed.

Q: How many competitions have you done?

A: I did four this season. Three of the Scott Enduro Cup and one Go Ride Gravity Series Super D.

Q: How did you do?

A: Moab was my very first race, and I got eighth in the amateur category. Sun Valley I was in the middle of the pack again. The Super D I got third in the Cat 2 [a racing category] and Deer Valley I got third out of about 15 girls.

Q: How do Enduro races work?

A: You climb, but the climbs are not timed. The descents are timed, and they look like a hybrid of cross country and downhill. There are pedal sections where you have to pedal while going down. Then there are technical sections with rocks and drops or any funky terrain you have to navigate efficiently and clean. There are different stages; you’ll either have a one-day or a two-day event, with three to five stages each day.


Q: So, what was the competition at Deer Valley like?

A: The first trail up there, called NCS, used to be one of the World Cup premier downhill tracks so it’s very technical. The race day was the fourth time I’d ever ridden it, and it scared the crap out of me. My goal going into it was to survive the stage so I could do the rest, but I ended up getting second.

Q: How did that feel when you finished second?

A: It was really cool. I actually puked from being so gripped, hanging on as hard as I could and surviving. All that stress was done. It was good, and reaffirming that all the biking and work I’ve done this summer has really paid off. It was an, “I did it!” moment.

Q: And how many hours have you been putting in?

A: One to two hours a day, and on the weekends I’ll go all day. Probably around 15 to 20 hours a week. It’s kind of a part-time job I guess.

Q: It seems that mountain biking has really expanded in popularity. Why do you think that is?

A: Mountain biking has become a lot more accessible, and the gear has changed. It’s more enjoyable to ride mountain bikes now. And, I see a lot of women getting into the sport. I think it’s that cultural norms are changing. Little girls are being brought up empowered and being told that they can ride a bike, and they can ride it like a badass and that’s ok… Also, in Utah the population has exploded exponentially, so the trails are more saturated.

Q: So, what’s next for you?

A: I didn’t anticipate on racing this summer. I had a friend who convinced me, and I didn’t expect to do as well as I did. I think next year I want to do the Series again, or check out other ones like the Colorado Big Mountain Series.

Q: What about going pro? Would you want to do that?

A: It would be cool to get there, and I would like to get there, but I want to make sure it’s still fun for me along the way. I don’t want it to become this thing where people have expectations that I will show up and do this and that. I want to do it for myself, and it would be cool to prove it to myself that I can hang with some of these badass women who I look up to.

Feature photo credit: Randy Winzeler

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