By Katy Savage
Althea Ostgaard is proving age is just a number.
Althea, “Ally,” became the youngest female rider to ever podium the Fox US Open of Mountain Biking in Killington last year at just 14 years old.
Ally of Seattle, Washington got third place in downhill against some of the world’s top riders. Now 15, she’s coming back to Killington to compete in the downhill again, but the teenager isn’t putting any pressure on herself.
“I’m not really looking for the same results,” she said. “I’m just trying to ride as best as I can.”
Ally started mountain biking when she was 8 years old, following in her older sister, Taylor’s footsteps.
“You can thank Taylor for that one,” Ally joked. “Taylor hopped on a bike and just started going. My mom’s very physically active so she wanted us all to do it.”
Ally admitted she hated her first race at Mount Hood in Oregon, when her parents made her compete. She was scared of the downhill and didn’t like other people watching her.
“My parents dragged me to the top of the mountain and I cried my eyes out,” Ally said. “I was not very stoked.”
But, Ally did well and quickly learned she loved competing.
“I was like, ‘OK, that wasn’t so bad,’” she said. “I haven’t stopped since. I was like actually like, ‘I don’t care who watches me.’”
Taylor, 18, is also competing in the downhill race in Killington this year after a mishap last year where she crashed into a rock and lost her shoe, making her go looking in the woods.
“I’m hoping for redemption this year,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s also hoping to overtake her younger sister, “Especially since she passed me up last year,” Taylor said.
Mountain biking is a family activity for the Ostgaards. Both Taylor and Ally, who are avid skiers in the winter, are homeschooled, allowing them to travel around the world for competitions.
The sisters have traveled so much this summer, they’ve only been home for about four days.
Taylor, who started mountain biking when she was 10, is in her first year of competing on the World Cup circuit, which she said has changed her approach to the sport.
“I’ve had to change my mindset going into this year,” Taylor said. “I’m going to be with the big dogs.”
Ally and Taylor look forward to the Killington race, explaining the downhill course is unique from most other courses they compete on.
“With most courses, you have one type of riding — you have tech or you have a flowy course,” Ally said. “That course had everything. It had tech, it had drops, it had flow, it had everything. I really loved that.”
The race is also unique in that it has an open category, allowing riders of all ages and abilities to compete against each other.
Ally is hoping to keep following in Taylor’s footsteps and quality for the World Cup when she’s old enough next year.
“I have to wait one more year, but I really, really want to race in the World Cups. That is like every kid’s dream,” Ally said. “I love the adrenaline rush of racing, I love riding with friends and the community of racing.”
Though competitive with each other, Taylor and Ally are also used to supporting each other.
“If one of us wins, we both win,” Taylor said. “It’s the Ostgaard name up there.”