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As part of a new series entitled ‘Faces of the Future‘, we’re taking a look at the personalities, ambitions, and palmares of some of the young and talented cyclists you might not know much about, but you’ll be hearing lots about.
At just 18 years of age, road and cyclocross racer Emma White already has seven national champion jerseys and two silver world championship medals in her trophy case.
She bested her competition in her age groups at the American national junior cyclocross and road championships no less than seven times and at the UCI World Road Championships she earned a silver medal in both the junior women time trial and road race, coming in second twice to her compatriot Chloe Dygart.
Following her incredible run in Richmond, she started college at Union College in New York and also jumped right back into the dirt, kicking off her cyclocross season with a sixth place finish among the pro women in Providence in September.
She went on to take bronze at the U23 national cyclocross championships in December and was all set to go to the UCI World Cyclocross Championships in Belgium when she came down with mono and had to forgo her spot on the USA National team selection worlds to recover from mono, Emma White sounds surprisingly chipper when she takes our call.
“It’s a bummer, I was having a really nice season,” she said, “but It helps me look forward to next season on the road.”
No longer racing as a junior, White is riding for Rally Cycling (formerly known as Optum) this season, following her older brother Curtis who rides on the men’s team.
After her performances at the world championships, we can expect great things from White. Here are a few fun things you should know about this face of the future.
1.) Despite her young age, she already has 10 years of experience under her belt.
Coming from a family that’s big into horseback racing, White switched her horse saddle for a much smaller one when she was just nine years old. Following her older brother, she started racing on the road and an introduction to cyclocross came not much later.
“When I was around 16, cycling and horseback riding simply became too time consuming. Plus, the risk factor of falling off became too much. It just wasn’t worth it,” said White. “I think being introduced to cycling at an early age was good for me. I had a lot of time to get fully committed and now I couldn’t imagine ever stopping.”
2.) She’s following in her brother’s footsteps.
White’s 20-year-old brother Curtis is an up-and-coming professional cyclocrosser for the Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld and got second in the U23 category at this season’s USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships this year. He’s also an all-rounder on the Rally Cycling team (formerly Optum).
“My older brother raced and being a few years older than me, he’s always been a few steps ahead of me. I just followed him,” she said.
“We are close. We are both at school together here at Union College and we do a lot together. We have definitely gotten closer as we’re getting older.
But who’s the better cyclist?
“Curtis,” White said with a laugh. “He has definitely helped me. I’m really lucky to have him because when we go on rides together, he makes me stronger. We are on different programs a lot of times and we don’t get to ride together as much as I’d like to but when schedules line up, he’s my training buddy.” ¬
3.) Up until now, she’d been one of the boys.
For the past two years, White has been a member of the Hot Tubes Development Team with all guys.
“I had a lot of great experiences with that team,” said White, crediting the team for making her love road racing as much as ‘cross. “But I’m really excited to ride with a bunch of girls now.”
“The girls are really spread out throughout America and Canada and I don’t know most of them yet. I do know that we’ll have some really cool racing opportunities and that it’s a really competitive team. I’m excited to be part of it,” continued White. “I haven’t done a lot of these big races and it’s my first year out of the Junior category. I really just want to take it all in and learn as much as I can., especially in terms of team tactics as I haven’t had that experience –racing with a team –with the exception of Worlds.”
4.) Richmond was huge –not just for White but for Team USA in general.
“Coming up second twice felt, and still feels, great,” said White. “To have America go one and two is definitely a first for they American junior women and even in any discipline or category. I think it shows a lot about the calliper of American racing now. Women’s racing certainly has come along well.”
Despite being a runner up to compatriot Chloe Dygart twice, White assured that there’s no bad blood between them nor does she feel like she’s in anyone’s shadow.
“After Chloe won the [junior women’s] time trail, we knew that if she got away in the road race, she could stay away. And that happened so it was my job to work for her. I was so happy to do that and to have that opportunity. When you, as a team, are racing for the rainbow jersey, it’s pretty incredible what you’re willing to do for each other. And when you win, everyone feels like they’ve won. It was incredible to help make that happen.”
A funny thing did happen in the aftermath of Worlds, however: she started getting phone calls from across the pond.
“I had already committed to Rally before Worlds. I had a lot of people contact me from Europe after worlds, which was kind of a funny feeling. I’d never thought I’d be on the radar of a European team,” she said. “But with college and all, that’s not really what I’m looking for at the moment.”
Which bring us to number five.
5.) She’s juggling a rising cycling career with university
White is currently attending Union college where she hopes to go into the realm of medical science.
“Education is pretty important to me and I definitely want to get that done and not take my chances without it,” said White. “As of right now, I’m planning on combining college and racing for the next four years. I’m really lucky with my college situation. I really like going to Union and things are working out.”
6.) She hopes to one day be in the shoes of Kristin Armstrong
When asked who she looks up to in cycling, White is quick to answer.
“It would have to be Kristin Armstrong. She obviously has accomplished so much but I also admire the fact that she has a family, a job and remains focused and is still so fast. That’s so cool to me. She is such an incredible figure in the sport and does a lot for women’s cycling. I’d like to one day be in her shoes,” she said.
The double Olympics, world and national time trial champion has been coaching White for the past two years and White credits Armstrong for enhancing her road racing experience.
“She’s my first coach and that has completely changed my whole road racing experience. Just to have someone there to talk to, to watch out for your best interest. She’s been great,” said White.
7.) She is ‘obsessed’ about her three cats despite being allergic to them.
“I have three cats and I’m obsessed with them. However, I’m allergic to cats so it’s a bit of a problem,” she said. “I get all itchy and start sneezing but it’s tolerable.”
Ella bonus question: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started cycling?
“I didn’t know I would have this much fun with it. I thought I would give it a try and do it until I started college but I am having an absolute blast and I can’t imagine stopping now!”