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“I give my all to reach my goals”

Interview with Alessandra Keller

Nothing comes from nothing – for the U23 mountain bike world champion Alessandra Keller a truism for a long time. The Nidwalden athlete talks about her victory at last year’s World Championships in Lenzerheide and provides insights into her daily training routine.

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Top-ranking mountain biker Alessandra Keller

Top-ranking mountain biker Alessandra Keller

You won gold in the U23 category of the Mountain Bike World Cup Lenzerheide last year. What was going through your mind as you stood up there on the podium?

At that moment, I was filled with such an incredible sense of joy and pride about what both I and the entire team had accomplished. On the day of the World Cup, I performed at my peak and rode a perfect race! A lot had been written about our home World Cup in the run-up to the event, so I was under a lot of pressure. My goal was to win that title. I was simply relieved and unbelievably happy.

As a World Champion, you must be doing something better than everybody else. What’s your secret?

There really isn’t one because each and every athlete is an individual so the “secret recipe” differs from one person to the next. It’s an interplay of countless components. Of course, you need a lot of discipline, motivation, will, ambition, talent and an environment filled with people working toward those very same goals. Being or becoming the very best in the world is a long process. In my case, I’m certain it’s my iron will to give it everything I’ve got to reach my goals. 

How do you prepare for big competitions, both physically and mentally?

I work together with my team and my coach to plan the season around the biggest events. We come up with a structured training schedule with more frequent, more intense training sessions ahead of a big competition. Mentally, my preparations are really quite similar to how I’d prepare for a “normal” race. I try to commit all the details of the course to memory and play through all the different scenarios that could pop up during the race. The same thing holds true here, too, however: mental and physical fitness are the culmination of a long process and are built up over a matter of years and throughout the entire season. 

Alessandra Keller riding the mountain bike through the forest

Alessandra Keller participating in a race

After you’ve delivered peak physical and mental performances, how do you switch off?

Switching off right after an event can be tough and you always need a bit of time to fully grasp what you’ve achieved. For me, getting some exercise outdoors in the nature works best. 

What prompted you to pursue the path of a competitive athlete?

To be honest, there wasn’t just one event that prompted me to become a competitive athlete. Sports have been my biggest passion, ever since I was a little girl. My successes at international competitions, my Junior World Cup title more than anything, were what paved my way to the world of professional sports. 

You’re studying pharmaceutical sciences. How do you strike a balance between your studies and your athletic career?

Combining elite sports and university studies calls for enormous discipline, plus you have to be willing to give up other things. Both as a student and an elite athlete, you need to be flexible enough to prioritize one thing during more intense phases and put the other thing on the back burner for a while. 

The summer is just around the corner: Which routes do you recommend for beginning mountain bikers?

I always advise that beginners get to know their bikes extremely well. Flow trails or simple root trails are perfect places to get some practice and improve your skills as a rider. 

Where are you spending your summer vacation?

I really don’t have any “summer vacation” because our racing season takes place during the summer. As an elite athlete, however, you have the privilege of being able to travel around the world and live out your dream. My vacation is generally in the fall, after the season’s over. Once it comes around, though, I sometimes just like staying at home since we’re on the road so much otherwise. 

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