Rarely in life we meet someone as extraordinary as you imagine them to be. Paula Zibasa = The next generation of female athletes of downhill biking shares her biggest “aha” moments — from growing up in Latvia to becoming one of the top junior athletes on the downhill circuit, local hero who is already ripping the world-cups.
We sat down with Paula to learn more about her and discuss her journey...
Tell me about you ´aha ´moment in your life?
Definitely, Leogang world cup in 2017. It was a first time I was allowed to race at World Cup and I won the first place. 1/1 Moment for me.
Who is your role model from bike world?
Tahnee Seagrave - When you look up to someone and it is incredible when your dreams become reality. She has been my role model since beginning, first I was just a fan, but once I started racing I got an invitation to come and shred with her at her hometown, however I could not go because of school. Later on we finally met and I could not be happier, for instance we were shredding together at Crankworx. It is an extraordinary experience to shred with her and progress together.
But not only her, all my colleagues, friends inspire me to ride a bike and enjoy the most I can out of it. Because that’s where the fun comes out of it, when we are , riding ,enjoying and having fun together.
Where is your special place in Austria and in Latvia?
Tukums - hometown in Latvia where I was born
Bikepark Innsbruck - the best home local trails
What do you miss about Latvia?
What do you love about Austria?
Definitely food. Germknödel, Käspresknödel or Käsespatzle= all are Mnam, Mnam.
And of course mountains and countryside as that was the reason we moved here.
Three characteristic that define you the most
Communicative - however sometimes shy as well
Determined - anything I do, I want to do it the best of my abilities
Thirsty for change - scared that I would just live my life, and do nothing particularly extraordinary
What brought you to MTB and what was hard at the beginning?
I had a problem with splay feet, when I was younger so the doctor recommended to start with some sport. That time Race BMX was popular in Latvia so I did that. Later on I decided to stick with biking. My first real experience with Downhill was in 2013 when I joined the camp for kids organised from Sabine Oswald. Och gosch, how much I did not want to join the camp, me and one other chick were only two girls there.
What do you love the most about downhill?
So first of all, I hate going up. But well, what can you do if you need endurance. Generally what I love about downhill is that you can be so fast and furious. The feeling of flow, just that feeling of you and the bike. And mostly, feeling after - if you DID IT! Simply dopamine- happy hormone.
And it´s not only about that, also community - feeling of belonging and just being with friends and doing something you love.
How do you manage your time with race, school and training?
It is difficult time to time manage school and racing as unfortunately not many teachers see mountain biking like a “real” sport and me as an “real” athlete. Therefore they don't really support my missed days. However I know it is important to have solid education I have decided to switch to evening school from next year so it would give me an opportunity to train during the day and study in the evenings.
Vision for Future
Definitely to focus on finishing my Matura and studies. I have still two years to go and since from next year I am in Elite, my goal is to have the best results in elite next year.
Last words for all the outdoorchicks out there to motivate them
It is necessary to have like minded people with whom you can improve, grow and have fun on the bikes. Nowadays there are plenty of options ranging from bike camps, workshops, or communities such as OutdoorChicks. Then is only about believing in yourself and trying to do the best of your abilities. Stay safe and Have fun.
Big Shoutout to ones who support Paula and help her to progress and make her dreams possible.
We wish Paula a lot of success for this year and for the next one in Elite category. Paula Keep Ripping the World Cup!
Give Paula love at: Instagram