Switching Gears with Mazie Hayden

Name: Mazie Hayden  Age: 18 Occupation:  Freshman at the University of Vermont, pro mountain bike racer.  Claim to fame Second at 2018 FIS World Junior Championships in skicross; third at the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup, Lives in: Pittsfield, Vt.

Ski Cross and Mountain Bike Champ

Mazie Hayden had no idea she was even being considered to be part of the U.S. Team when she received the invite to the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World’s in Australia, last fall. “I’d only done one UCI World Cup, the one in Mont St. Anne, Quebec,” the Killington Mountain School student, said at the time. Her second place finish in Canada, combined with a steady stream of podium finishes in the Pro Cat 1 categories in Vittoria Eastern States Cup events and a fifth overall (not just in her age group, and competing against pros) at the U.S. Nationals in West Virginia, secured Hayden the invite.

Mazie Hayden competing at Mount Snow. Photo courtesy Mount Snow.

The invitation came at just the right time as she just happened to be planning to go to Australia in September anyway, to ski. You see, downhill mountain biking is Mazie Hayden’s second sport.

Hayden’s first sport, ski cross, takes her Down Under each fall. Ski cross, an event that sets four or five competitors out on a course at once, with jumps and speed sections all thrown in, has been an Olympic sport since 2010. Hayden qualified to compete in the Olympics in 2018 but the U.S. chose not to field a team.

That has not stopped Hayden. This past August 27, she finished second in ski cross in the FIS World Junior Ski Championships in New Zealand. Two weeks earlier, she finished third at the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup at Mont St. Anne.

Hayden grew up skiing and mountain biking around Killington Mountain Resort, where her father works. She

earned her first USASA National Ski Cross Championship title in 2012 when she was 11, and has won every USASA National title since. 

This summer, she also turned pro as a mountain biker. She finished sixth at the Fox U.S. Open at Killington and won her first pro downhill race at the Mountain Creek (N.J.) Pro GRT Spring Nationals where the women’s field was packed with top pros from California, Canada, Colorado and the East Coast. In August, Hayden was one of 17 women from all sports across the country to receive a Travel and Training grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation.

What’s it like to compete in two sports at the international level? Hayden acknowledges it can be a challenge for scheduling races and training. But, as she says, “I have so much fun biking and I really enjoy competing in ski cross. There are lots of movements you do for both, like ‘popping.’ And the most important thing is the mental preparation for each race and that carries over for both seasons—and overcoming the fear,” she says, adding, “that said, it’s better to fall on snow.” 

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports. Loves skiing, riding, cycling and anything that can keep her outdoors, 356 days a year.