Ella Erickson describes downhill mountain bike racing as two to three minutes of whipping speed that puts your technical skills and mental focus to the test. The three-time national champion is a member of the USA Cycling Women’s National Team, and in 2022 she was one of four riders selected by Team USA to compete in the World Championships in France. What makes her racing fun to watch, in part, is that she’s a local to the Inland Northwest. And the fact that she’s only 20 years old and rides a mountain bike like it’s an extension of her spirit.
Although last year was her first year competing at the elite level, this local superstar is no stranger to international races. She competed in the World Championships for the first time in 2020, and again in 2021. On the national stage, Erickson won first place at the Junior National Championships in 2021 with a time that put her in third place for pro women.
Even though she does her winter training in Bellingham, Erickson claims Silver Mountain as her home course. “The bike community in Coeur D’Alene and Spokane is so kind and supportive,” says Erickson.
Community is a key component for Erickson. She credits family as her biggest inspiration in this sport. “Riding with my family is really what got me into the sport, because it made it less intimidating. Racing downhill is really a mental challenge and requires a lot of focus. My family really made it feel fun.” Her mom, dad, and younger sister are downhill racers as well.
Erickson would love to see more women involved in mountain biking. In summer 2022 she hosted two women’s rides at Silver Mountain, sponsored by e*thirteen. “A lot of people showed up who had never been mountain biking before and they really liked it,” Erickson says. “We broke into two groups (beginner and intermediate) and then met up at the end to do a lap.”
Silver Mountain has expanded their green courses over the last year, which means more opportunities for new riders that many people don’t know about. “I think a lot of women feel intimidated by the courses at Silver,” says Erickson. “But I think this is a great opportunity to create community and help women get over that and get them interested in the sport.”
Erickson recalls a similar event she attended in 2016 at Silver, organized by USA Pro Women’s Cycling star and Inland Northwest local Jaime Reese, “It’s really about having fun and trying to improve. Silver Mountain is a great place to start.”
The 20-year-old has hopes of ascending the podium again as national champion. She has excelled as a DH racer and hopes to expand further into enduro racing. In fact, she’ll be competing in the Enduro National Downhill Series in Tennessee at the end of May in addition to the Northwest Cup series.
Ultimately, her favorite part is always the beginning of the race: “Right after I leave the gate, all the race-day nerves go away, and I can put all my energy on getting down the hill.” To follow Erickson’s racing this season, check out her Instagram account @ellabea_