Student Juanita HS is one of the best female downhill mountain bikers in the world
For many, flying downhill on a bicycle while dodging rocks, navigating roots, and jumping over obstacles seems like a daunting experience. For Emma Artz, high school student Juanita, it is a challenge in which she thrives.
Artz started downhill mountain biking a few years ago when she joined the Issaquah-based Sweetlines JR Racing women’s team coached by Kat Sweet. It was there that she “fell in love” with the sport and began to challenge herself with increasingly difficult courses.
She started to participate in races and would do better and better in her rankings.
She developed an affinity for “technical riding”, crossing roots and jagged rocks.
“I came to love it,” she said. “Because once I found it scary. “
In July 2021, Artz faced some of the best girls in the country at the USA Cycling Nationals in Winter Park, Colorado. She took second place in the country, which earned her an invitation to represent the United States at the UCI World Championships in Val Di Sole, Italy.
Artz said the Val Di Sole downhill course is recognized as one of the most difficult and technical courses in the world, with a steep descent and lots of obstacles. It would be a huge challenge and a huge opportunity.
The course had obstacles such as a 50-foot gap that Artz would have to cross, but she said the biker community there to compete was cheering and supporting her, “uplifting” her to meet the challenge.
She placed 13th in the world in this race. She then participated in a World Cup competition in which she placed 5th.
“I am extremely proud of where I am right now,” Artz said. “Knowing that the work I put in is out.”
One of his proudest accomplishments was having the opportunity to represent the United States as one of the best downhill mountain bikers in the world.
“Just so I can say that,” she stressed.
She said her passion for the sport is rooted in the ever-changing challenges it presents. Each course is different, with different obstacles. Even the weather can change the way a rider tackles a course from round to round.
Artz credited Sweetlines with much of how she was able to develop this passion and said the organization has done the same for many young girls in the Pacific Northwest.