On a trail to success


Hannah Finchamp rides her bike through icy terrain during the 2016 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Snowshoe, Virginia. Finchamp won the event which was held from Oct. 21 – 23 2016.
Photo provided by Hannah Finchamp

NICK FEAKES | Reporter

Lindenwood senior Hannah Finchamp switched her attention to mountain biking only three years ago, but she’s already secured a place on Team USA.

I started competing in triathlon when I was 9 years old,” Finchamp said. “I saw a booth at one of my running races for triathlon and was like ‘Mom, I want to try that,’ and that was it.”

Finchamp proved very adept at triathlon, and by the age of 17 had won the XTERRA World Championship twice. The race is a cross-country triathlon that includes mountain biking and trail running.

Finchamp’s accomplishment was all the more impressive because she won the overall women’s competition, not an age-group competition.

The health-food brand Clif signed Finchamp to compete as a sponsored athlete. The company sponsors athletes who compete in adventure sports, such as triathlon and mountain biking, as well as climbing, skiing, snowboarding and surfing.

“They approached me about switching over to cycling,” Finchamp said. “They felt like I could have a bright future as a mountain biker and encouraged me to take the plunge.”

Being a sponsored athlete for Clif certainly has its perks, she said.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”Hannah Finchamp” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”21″]Long story short, Lindenwood didn’t limit me, and it let me pursue anything and everything I felt drawn to[/perfectpullquote]

“They supply all the equipment, they cover expenses, and they help us make it so the only job I have is to turn the pedals,” Finchamp said.

It may seem odd that a former professional triathlete and current professional mountain biker ended up studying in St. Charles, Missouri.

However, for Finchamp it was the logical choice because Lindenwood allowed her to follow her dreams on the bike and in the classroom.

“When I first came to Lindenwood I was a triathlete, and I wanted to continue that passion in college,” Finchamp said.

Lindenwood had a top-level cycling team, she said, and also allowed her to compete on the cross-country and swimming team simultaneously. Finally, Lindenwood has an accredited athletic training program that allowed Finchamp to double major in exercise science as well.

“Long story short, Lindenwood didn’t limit me, and it let me pursue anything and everything I felt drawn to,” she said.

Finchamp has tasted her fair share of success at Lindenwood. The Altadena, California, native has won three national titles in mountain biking and one in cyclocross since making the move to St. Charles.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”Julie Carter” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”19″]I see it in the everyday things and in many aspects of her life. She is driven to be the best she can be, and it is evident in everything she does[/perfectpullquote]

Lindenwood cycling coach Julie Carter said that Finchamp is committed to improving and creating the best version of herself.  

“Every day, Hannah makes choices that continue to move her closer and closer to being the best,” Carter said. “I see it in the everyday things and in many aspects of her life. She is driven to be the best she can be, and it is evident in everything she does.”

The variance in the climate between California and Missouri has posed some challenges for Finchamp’s training.

It’s impossible for Finchamp to train outside during the months where snow and ice is on the ground in Missouri, so Finchamp hooks up her bike to a trainer that allows her to pedal while remaining stationary.

“It’s made me tougher,” Finchamp said. “It definitely helped last year at collegiate nationals because it was 20 degrees and snowing, and that’s not something I would’ve been prepared for coming from California.”

As expected, outdoor sports like mountain biking can be dangerous sometimes. Finchamp was recently injured in a training run before the Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, Australia.

“I crashed really hard,” Finchamp said. “I remained clipped into my pedals, while belly flopping straight into the jagged rocks and rolling down the hill. The X-rays were negative, but they found a large abnormal collection of blood in my abdominal muscles.”

Despite being banged up and in serious pain from the crash Finchamp was able to compete in her race a few days later.

“Something special happens when you put on the red, white and blue,” she said.

Finchamp plans to put her pending athletic training career on hold after graduation. Professional cycling is where she will focus her energy.

“Ideally I’d like to get to the Olympics one day,” Finchamp said.