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Haley Smith knows real toughness

The cross country rider speaks candidly about her mental-health struggles and about the race season ahead

Haley Smith Photo by: Kevin Light Photography

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Like many Canadian cross country riders, Haley Smith has been doing a lot riding on the trails around Victoria. The Ontario mountain biker and her husband, who is also her Norco Factory teammate, Andrew L’Esperance, have been on the West Coast since early January. It’s the place to train for the season ahead because international travel is not an easy option right now.

Smith is heading abroad soon, however. In about mid-April, she and L’Esperance will go to Europe to start racing. The big targets are the World Cup races in Germany and the Czech Republic. Results at those events could affect selection for the Olympics. While the chances of Smith representing Canada in Tokyo this summer are good, partly because of her third-place finish at the World Cup in Nové Město in 2019, nothing is totally certain.

In January, Smith published a story about her struggles with mental health. In the past, she’s spoken about the problems she faced as a teenager and how, for the most part, she overcame them. But in 2020, her struggles grew more and more serious. Smith is always incredibly articulate when she discusses mental health. She’s honest and insightful, even when she’s overwhelmed with emotion, which you will hear in this interview. So get ready to tackle some big topics, as well as some big jumps, with mountain biker Haley Smith.

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