Kalispell Mountain Biker Named to Olympic Long Team

Rose Grant is among eight American women who could be selected to compete at the 2016 Summer Games

By Dillon Tabish
Rose Grant. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

After a breakout season that included a national championship and a trip to Europe to compete for the world championship, professional mountain biker Rose Grant is among eight American women who could be chosen for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 33-year-old Kalispell rider was named to the U.S. Olympic long team for women’s mountain biking. USA Cycling announced the men’s and women’s Olympic long teams on Friday, unveiling the lineup of athletes from which the final 2016 Team USA roster will be selected next summer.

Stephen Ettinger of Bozeman was named to the men’s mountain bike long team.

Out of the eight women named to the mountain bike long team, up to two will be selected to compete at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The list includes former Olympians and national champions and distinguishes Grant as one of the elite riders in the nation.

“It’s really special to be selected,” she said Saturday. “To break through and be one of the athletes who could be on the Olympic team is really great.”

»»» Click here to read about Grant’s motivation.

Grant has risen to the top of the sport in only four years of riding at the professional level.

Born and raised in the Bitterroot Valley, she started mountain biking in high school. At Pensacola Christian College in Florida, she traded the sport for endurance running. After moving to Kalispell in 2007 with her husband, Nelson, she pulled out her mountain bike and hit the trails that snake through the mountains near town, including two havens, Lone Pine State Park and Herron Park. It sparked a fire that lay dormant since she was a teenager.

By 2011, she was riding with Kalispell’s Sportsman & Ski Haus Cycling Team, one of the best in the region, and she won a Montana state championship and two national titles. She turned pro the next year.

Her remarkable rise includes an even more remarkable fact that makes Grant stand out in the sport. Few women at the professional level are mothers, and Grant is the only mother among the eight American women selected to the Olympic long team.

Grant was seven weeks pregnant when she competed in her first professional race in 2012, pedaling nearly 70 miles through a maze of mountainous terrain at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. She placed 13th and 16th in separate races.

Grant slowed down her training while she was pregnant between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Her daughter, Layla, was born in spring 2013, and within seven weeks she was back on the bike, winning the two-hour Rocky Mountain Roubaix in Frenchtown.

Part of her rigorous training regimen included riding her road bike with a carriage attached three to four days a week, hauling little Layla around the Flathead Valley.

The hard work has paid off, and Grant is now receiving international attention as one of the best in the sport.

In May, she won the pro national championship at the 2015 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain National Championships in Georgia. She dominated several other races across the country, and in July she was selected to compete at the mountain bike world championship in Vallnord, Andorra, tucked between Spain and France. She was one of only six American athletes to compete in the elite women cross-country race in late August and early September. She finished 31st out of 60 competitors and was the fourth American finisher.

“I know I’m capable of better. I’m happy but not satisfied,” she said.

Grant has spent recent months resting from another grueling season before restarting her training regimen.

Grant has few appearances in the international World Cup circuit, which may make her a long shot for the upcoming Olympic team.

But she said being named to the Olympic long list gives her a good boost and further motivation to keep working hard.

“It is exciting. Being named to the Olympic long list is super special,” she said.

“I just want to keep my flow and do what I can. Even if I am racing domestically, I just want to make sure I’m doing everything within my potential. I’m going to just keep trying to work around my family schedule and get funding support to be able to break through to that level of racing in the World Cup circuit. I’m on the cusp.”

Grant writes a blog — www.rose-grant.com — where she posts about her life as a professional rider and mother.