The big news out of the 2011 kick-off World Cup event in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa was that Willow Koerber didn’t start the cross-country race.
With high expectations of continuing her strong World Cup performances — second overall in 2010 — and earning something shinier than bronze at MTB worlds (2009 and 2010), Koerber moved over to Trek World Racing in the off season to focus on the 2012 Olympics.
But leading up to Saturday’s cross-country race, the Durango, Colorado resident told team management that something wasn’t quite right. After taking second a week ago at a South African XC event on the World Cup course, Team Director Martin Whiteley said Koerber had not been feeling well and was suffering from an overall lack of energy.
“She decided to take a pregnancy test to see if this was the reason,” Whiteley said in a Trek World Racing web site post.
Fiancé and former DH world champion Myles Rockwell was the first to get the results of the test.
“I had two positive tests for pregnancy the day before the World Cup in South Africa,” Koerber said on her blog. “I am six weeks along. With my team’s support, I chose not to start the World Cup. At his point in my life, I could never forgive myself if something happened to this little soul who obviously has some wonderful reasons for choosing me as his mother.”
Whiteley said the news is a “bittersweet development for Willow” and that the team is “fully supportive” of the 34-year-old racer.
“On one hand [she] was ready to take on the world in season 2011, yet on the other hand, [she] is now expecting her first child with all the joy and excitement that brings,” he said.
For her part, Koerber said on her blog that she spoke with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, a cross-country world champion and Olympic gold medalist about the unexpected turn of events. Dahle Flesjå, 38, had a child in early 2009 and is back racing at the elite level.
“She told me that nothing compares to this experience, and sport is always there for me whenever I want to return,” Koerber said, adding that her due date is Dec. 22.
After that, she said the plan is “to be back in World Cup action next spring.”