June 24/05 1:04 am - Interview with Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne, Mont Ste Anne XC preview
Posted by Editoress on 06/24/05
Interview with Marie-Hélène Premont
By Mike Badyk
With Marie-Hélène Premont as a local hero due to her racing success, her image is everywhere in the Quebec City area. The Vélirium organizers have pictures of her on the Event Guide and large posters of her are everywhere. Clearly and naturally she is a home town favourite, having grown up just a short distance away from Mont Ste Anne. I managed to chat with her for a few moments in between the endless interviews with the local French language media.
Marie-Hélène is truly a celebrity here. Even her sponsor, Rocky Mountain Bicycles has teamed with the Vélirium organizers, making Marie-Hélène the official event spokesperson. It is star power.
CC - First of all welcome home.
MH - Thank you. It has been so nice to be home for such a long time. I've been here since the Willingen World Cup to do the Nationals and now this race.
CC - How are you feeling?
MH - I'm feeling very good. I've had a good rest. Training has been going extremely well this week. I feel very strong.
CC - And of course this is your favourite race ...
MH - Yes, yes. Although Spa (Belgium) is good too (Marie-Hélène's first World Cup win)! They are very similar. They have a good blend of technical sections and descending and climbing. It has always been my favourite here. Even with the Mont Ste Anne mud! (It has been raining here this morning)
CC - Everyone is hoping for a victory for you here at home. What do you think your chances are like tomorrow?
MH - I'm feeling good but you just never know how the other girls are. My win at Spa has given me confidence.
CC - Are you feeling much pressure to win?
MH - A little. I think there was more last year as an Olympic year. Now that we are a year after the Olympics there is not as much pressure.
CC - Can we expect your usual fans at the race tomorrow?
MH - (Laughing) Of course! They are always my inspiration. My family will be here. Many friends too. It should be very noisy in the forest as usual.
The XC race course has changed somewhat from last year, with a slight increase in the amount of technical sections. Returning to the course after a long absence, possibly since the 1998 World Championships, is a very steep and loose drop into a ravine in the eastern portion of the property. It will be sure to be a spectator favourite and is marked as such on the course map. The total course length is 5 kilometres and the course profile resembles a saw tooth. It will be a difficult course as usual. The rain came down hard this morning for a short while, but the ground is still fairly dry. The forest in the upper part of the course are still showing the after effects of the torrential rains last week. There is still a good amount of mud in several places. Hopefully the weather will clear somewhat. Some sun would help to dry things out considerably.