Rachel Atherton performs at UCI DH World Cup in Leogang, Austria on June 17, 2023
© Bartek Wolinski /Red Bull Content Pool

Meet the women pushing mountain biking's boundaries

Strap yourself in and prepare to meet six of the best female mountain bike riders in the world, each of whom has helped to progress the sport.
By Ric McLaughlin
5 min readPublished on
Mountain biking is a physically tough, demanding sport which offers no shelter for the meek or thin-skinned. In recent years, female riders have gone on to exceed expectations to ride on terrain, courses and in events that were seen as reserved for male athletes due to the physical, mental and technical demands of riding them.
Female mountain bike athletes have been pushing their riding progression for years by getting faster, taking on massive jumps, pulling complex tricks and blasting danger-filled freeride lines. So much so this is now being seen as the norm for women.
Events like Audi Nines, Red Bull Formation and Red Bull Hardline have provided women with the platform to showcase these riding skills. Fast forward to 2024, and we now have another pivotal moment for women's mountain biking – the first women's slopestyle competition at the Crankworx World Tour at Rotorua this weekend (March 24) – which can be watched live here.
With that in mind, there's no better time to pick out those female athletes who have pushed the progression of the women's mountain biking sport across the many disciplines.

Rachel Atherton

Rachel Atherton celebrates at the UCI DH World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on June 10, 2023

Atherton celebrates her 40th World Cup victory

© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

The two-time Laureus Award-winning princess of downhill had to be top of our list. Rachel Atherton is the alpha female of downhill racing. Her era of professionalism with the commitment to train and be the best she can has been a benchmark for the women who have followed her to become faster and better riders.
Her ability to manage her speed and surroundings across a race weekend is nothing short of remarkable, even after taking a break from the sport to have a child. In 2023, after riding sporadically since 2019, Atherton won the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series race in Lenzerheide at the age of 35. This was her 40th World Cup victory. The six-time World Champion is without a doubt one of the true women's mountain biking greats.

4 min

Rachel Atherton's historic winning run

Rachel Atherton makes downhill history, winning her 40th UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Lenzerheide.



Caroline Buchanan

Caroline Buchanan performs at Crankworx Whistler Pump Track in Whistler, Canada on July 27, 2023.

Caroline Buchanan on the pump track at Crankworx Whistler

© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Caroline Buchanan is unique in that she's had successful careers in BMX and mountain biking. The early part of the Australian's career was all about racing. She is a three-time BMX Race World Champion and a Four Cross World Champion on a mountain bike.
However, in recent years, Buchanan has pushed herself into uncharted territory, and that includes participating at mountain bike freestyle events that have traditionally been male-only, such as Audi Nines (now called Swatch Nines) and Red Bull District Ride. In 2021, Buchanan became the first woman to throw a front flip on a mountain bike at the Audi Nines.
Her ability to adapt has made her a brilliant all-rounder and two Queen of Crankworx crowns in 2022 and 2023 are testament to that. She'll make history at Crankworx Rotorua in 2024 by being one of the female athletes taking to the first-ever women's Crankworx slopestyle contest at Rotorua.

Harriet Burbidge-Smith

Harriet Burbidge-Smith riding her track during filming the Haz Project in Queenstown, New Zealand on February 28, 2023

Harriet Burbidge-Smith has the ability to combine speed and tricks

© Rachel Hadfield/Red Bull Content Pool

The former BMX racer from Australia has been steadily making a name for herself on the Crankworx festival circuit over the last few years, winning in events like dual slalom, pump track and speed & style across the many stops of the World Tour. Burbidge-Smith's ability to combine speed and pulling tricks like backflips has marked her out as one of the top women's performers in Crankworx and the evolving world of women's freeride.
Like fellow Aussie Caroline Buchanan, Burbidge-Smith will be one of the female athletes competing in the first-ever women's Crankworx slopestyle contest at Crankworx Rotorua.

9 min

Freeriding New Zealand with Harriet Burbidge-Smith

Join MTB rider Harriet Burbidge-Smith as she squads up with the best to freeride new trails in New Zealand.

English +1


Tahnée Seagrave

Tahnee Seagrave performs at UCI DH World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada on October 7, 2023

Tahnee Seagrave has eight downhill World Cup wins to her name

© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Tahnée Seagrave is another female bike athlete who is striving to evolve and push the boundaries of her sport. The British rider made her name in downhill where she has eight UCI World Cup victories to her name. She is among one of the fastest downhill riders out there currently but that hasn't stopped her pursuing other parts of mountain biking sport, in particular mountain biking freeride.
It's here where you'll find Seagrave most at her ease, taking on dirt jumps, sending big gaps and generally having fun. In 2019, Seagrave was one of six women to travel to the 2015 Red Bull Rampage site in Utah for Red Bull Formation, where the women created lines and sessioned what they built.

3 min

Tahnée Seagrave tears up Lousã, Portugal

British cyclist Tahnée Seagrave returns after serious injury to the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup.



Jess Blewitt

Jess Blewitt performs during Air DH at Crankworx in Rotorua, New Zealand on March 23, 2023.

Jess Blewitt is one of the pioneers for Red Bull Hardline

© Graeme Murray/Red Bull Content Pool

New Zealand downhill racer Jess Blewitt continues the recurring theme of women featured in this story in that no style of mountain biking is a problem for her. There have been attention-grabbing performances from Red Bull Hardline to the Enduro World Series in her young career so far, as well as being invited to be part of Red Bull Formation, the women's freeride event, in 2021.
In 2022, Blewitt became the first woman to take to the track at Red Bull Hardline in Machynlleth, Wales, a huge undertaking given the monstrous features of the Welsh downhill track. Blewitt's achievement opened the door for women to take part in Red Bull Hardline Australia in February 2024, where Canada's Gracey Hemstreet did a full-race run and beat one or two male athletes in the process.

Rebecca Rusch

Rebecca Rusch rides her bike in Sun Valley, ID, USA on May 24, 2020.

Rebecca Rusch is a trailblazer for women in the sport

© Wyatt Caldwell/Red Bull Content Pool

Puerto Rican-born Rebecca Rusch remains one of the toughest competitors that professional mountain biking has ever seen. Rusch has been a trailblazer for women in the sport and a role model for many in showing what they can achieve. Rusch had a chameleon-like ability to morph and adapt her racing to so many disciplines from cross-country mountain biking to gravel racing to endurance biking.
She's also taken on some huge biking projects in her time including riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which she made a movie about called "Blood Road" that went on to win an Emmy Award. Rusch's pioneering spirit and strong advocacy for women's mountain biking have made sure many more doors have been made open to the women who have followed her.

Part of this story

Crankworx World Tour

The world's best MTB slopestyle riders do battle in New Zealand, Austria, Australia and Canada.

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Crankworx World Tour

Catch the world's best mountain bikers take on challenging courses at Crankworx's first round in New Zealand.

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Tahnee Seagrave

The UK's Tahnée Seagrave is one of downhill mountain biking’s most exciting talents and one of the world's elite riders.

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Rachel Atherton

With a record number of overall World Cup wins and the only perfect season in MTB history to her name, Rachel Atherton is the queen of downhill racing.

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Jess Blewitt

After impressing at Red Bull Hardline and in the Enduro World Series, New Zealand's Jess Blewitt looks set to take the mountain biking scene by storm.

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Harriet Burbidge-Smith

Whether she’s hucking giant sets of stairs, dodging trees or defying gravity on the trails, Harriet Burbidge-Smith was put on this earth to ride bikes.


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