WCU student from Norway captures two mountain biking national championships

Frida Roenning races at the collegiate national championships in West Virginia after an early season snowfall.

Frida Roenning races at the collegiate national championships in West Virginia after an early season snowfall.

A Western Carolina University student mountain biker who regularly trains on the university’s trail system rode away with two national championship medals at a recent competition held in West Virginia.

Frida Roenning, a junior from Lillehammer, Norway, won two events – the women’s club downhill and the women’s club dual slalom – as she represented the WCU Cycling Club at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships held in late October at Snowshoe Mountain.

Roenning competed against female athletes from other collegiate cycling clubs from across the nation. Her time in the downhill race, held on a technical trail featuring mud, rocks and roots, was 5 minutes and 39 seconds, about 31 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, a rider from the University of Colorado Boulder.

The course for the dual slalom was shorter and more flowing in nature, featuring berms, rollers and jumps, Roenning said. Her time in that race was just under 50 seconds, with the same Colorado athlete finishing second in about 53 seconds.

Roenning came to WCU from Norway by way of Indiana. A native Norwegian, she said she “wanted to try something new, and America seemed cool,” so she left her family in Norway and enrolled at an Indiana university. Later, she decided to transfer, and came to WCU last January.

“I didn’t really like Indiana that much, but I liked the U.S., so I decided to move to the mountains so I could ride bikes, and found out about Western,” she said. “I really love it here. The mountains and weather are awesome. I also like the people here and the school, so it’s perfect.”

A mechanical engineering major, Roenning said she got into mountain biking about six years ago when she was injured participating in her favorite sport at the time, downhill skiing, and she could only ride bikes for a while. A graduate of the Norwegian High School of Elite Sports, she was formerly Norwegian junior mountain biking national champion. Earlier this year, she recorded two top 20 finishes while participating in Union Cycliste Internationale World Cup events against athletes from around the globe.

Roenning said her training regimen includes riding the WCU trail system every day and working out at the Campus Recreation Center twice each week. “It’s a fun trail system and it’s awesome that we have it so close to the school,” she said.

Roenning said she was feeling confident heading into the championships in West Virginia because she raced in collegiate nationals two years ago for her Indiana school and had some good results. “I kind of knew that I could win if I put down some good runs,” she said.

With two national championship medals in her back pocket, Roenning said she has aspirations of moving up in the mountain biking world. “I race professionally all summer, and my goals are to keep getting better and better,” she said.