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Norco signs Gracey Hemstreet and Emilly Johnston

Gwen Gibson joins elite roster making a trio of new women for the Canadian team

Photo by: Andy Vathis / Andy Shepard

Norco Factory Team is counting on a trio of accomplished young female riders to add firepower to its 2022 roster. Two Canadians, Emilly Johnston and Gracey Hemstreet, and the U.S.A.’s Gwen Gibson join Norco’s returning athletes for the fast-approaching World Cup season.

Gracey Hemstreet Norco Factory Team
Gracey Hemstreet. Photo: Andy Vathis

Downhill: Gracey Hemstreet walks off worlds podium and onto Norco

Sechelt, B.C.’s Gracey Hemstreet joins the Norco Factory Team after a banner debut year in the junior women’s category. Despite missing the first half of the season due to injury, the 18-year-old still landed on the podium at 2021 world championships in Val di Sol, Italy. Hemstreet backed that up in Lenzerheide, moving up a step with silver at her last World Cup of the season. Joining Norco, the Sunshine Coast junior is looking for more from her second year of racing.

“My goal this year is to win a World Cup event – and I’m really excited to ride some of the venues I haven’t been to yet,” Hemstreet says. “I’m really excited to ride in Fort William – it’s so legendary – and I think Leogang is so much like the terrain I ride at home. I think I have a really great chance there!”

To help make that goal a reality, Hemstreet put in the work over the fall to graduate early from high school. She’ll be free to focus on building speed for her final year of junior racing.

Emilly Johnston Norco Factory Team
Emilly Johnston. Photo Andy Shepard

XC: Emilly Johnston and Gwen Gibson building momentum

On the cross country side, Comox, B.C.’s Emilly Johnston and San Diego, Cali.’s Gwen Gibson join Norco Factory Team.

Johnston returns for another year of under-23 World Cup racing. She’ll do so in the maple leaf jersey of Canadian champion after winning XCO nationals in the fall of 2021. After a strong 2021 World Cup season, the 19-year-old is leaning on lessons learned from mentor Catharine Pendrel and her predecessors at Norco Factory Team, Haley Smith and Jenn Jackson, to build on last year’s successes.

“Following in the footsteps of Catharine, Haley and Jenn, I’ve always had so many women to look up to,” Johnston says. “I’m really working hard to get to the top level and being on the Norco team is absolutely the best way to get there!”

In the elite ranks, Gwen Gibson, 24, is building momentum as well. After eight years riding with Norco as a privateer, she launches onto the Factory squad off of three World Cup top-10 finishes in 2021. That season ended with a career-best fourth place at the Snowshoe, W.Va. World Cup to send Gibson into 2022 on a high note.

Gwen Gibson Norco Factory Team
Gwen Gibson racing her home World Cup at Snowshoe, W.Va. in 2021. Photo: Andy Vathis

Norco Factory Team: returning riders

Norco’s new trio of female talent joins a returning roster of accomplished cross country and downhill riders on the men’s side.

“These three women have proven themselves inside and outside the tape, and we’re so excited to have the energy and amazing potential they bring to the team,” said Kevin Haviland, Norco Factory Team Manager. “Our goal continues to be providing opportunities for athletes to grow and compete with us on the World Stage, and this year is shaping up to be a great one.”

Johnston and Gibson will team up with XCO Olympian Peter Disera and second-year elite, Sean Fincham. Carter Woods is back on the squad after a breakout under-23 season where two wins, in Albstadt and Nove Mesto, saw him finish fourth overall in 2021.

Hemstreet will take on the wild World Cup downhill series with long-time Norco rider Sam Blenkinsop and a trio of young B.C. racers. Henry Fitzgerald, Lucas Cruz and Elliot Jamieson are all aiming to turn strong junior careers into elite results.

With new riders joining the team, Norco also parts ways with several long-standing team members. Elite short track XC national champion Quinton Disera is off the roster for the first time in six years. As are Jenn Jackson, who recently joined Canyon, Haley Smith and Andrew L’Esperance.