Kate Courtney, world champion mountain biker, has an Olympic champion mentor: Reggie Miller

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U.S. mountain biker Kate Courtney likened her comeback to win the 2019 World Cup overall title to hitting a three-pointer in overtime of an NBA Finals game.

“A little stressful,” she said, “but, of course, one of the biggest highlights of my career.”

One of Courtney’s riding partners back home can relate: Basketball Hall of Famer (and Olympic gold medalist) Reggie Miller.

Anybody who follows the sharpshooting legend’s social media knows he found a hobby in retirement. Maybe more than that.

“Wannabe MTBer,” his Instagram bio reads. Attempts to reach Miller were unsuccessful, but he shed light in a Q&A with the mountain bike website mbaction.com that’s linked in his Twitter bio.

Miller mountain biked for the first time after moving to Malibu, Calif., in 2000. He was approached in a restaurant by Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford, who took him out on a ride with big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton and Bally Total Fitness founder Don Wildman.

“I was still playing for the Indiana Pacers at the time, so my fitness was good, but those guys left me in the dust,” Miller said, according to the report. “But being on those trails and in those hills got me hooked.”

It wasn’t until the Instagram era that Miller began racing mountain bikes. And that’s how Courtney, a fellow world champion and fellow Californian, believes she connected with him more than one year ago.

“But he also has been at a couple Southern California races,” she said, “and, of course, I knew the name.”

They rode together in Palm Springs in late 2018. They met up again last month at a Golden State Warriors game, where Miller was doing TV commentary for TNT.

Miller’s penchant for the sport is obvious in the Q&A, where he reeled off names of mountain bikers he admired. Miller said he wanted “the focus of a Kate Courtney.”

Courtney attributed her mental strength, the kind that made her a world champion at 22, partially to Miller’s mentoring.

“In the last couple of years as I started to really chase that top step of the podium, I’ve had a lot to learn from Reggie, and he’s been a great positive voice in terms of convincing me I can make it to the top,” she said. “And also, you know, helping you navigate the challenges of staying there.”

Miller may have benefited just as much from Courtney.

“Maybe, but let’s just say Reggie Miller is way better at mountain biking than I’ll ever be at basketball,” she said. “I think people underestimate how hard it would be for someone who’s been the absolute best in the world at something and maybe the greatest of all time in something to try something new that maybe they’re not exceptional at.”

Courtney was raised in Marin County, Calif., where mountain biking’s roots formed in the 1970s. She grew up at the base of Mount Tamalpais (“Mount Tam”), riding a tandem bike with her dad (but often times not pedaling herself) to get blueberry pancakes on Sunday mornings.

She played a variety of sports, but in high school began mountain biking seriously to cross train for cross-country running.

“Never looked back,” she said. “I certainly never ran again and fell in love with mountain biking.”

She competed for the national team while still in high school. Courtney turned professional, signing with Specialized, after two years at Stanford. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human biology before winning that world title in 2018.

She was the youngest rider in the 67-woman field in Switzerland, and in her senior worlds debut. She became the first American to win a world title in 27 years. Her bike was put on display at the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Marin County.

“Kate has arrived and represents a new generation of American mountain bikers,” Scott Schnitzspahn, USA Cycling Vice President of Elite Athletics, said that day.

Any mountain biker is familiar with obstacles. Courtney suffered two concussions as a junior racer. The first one, about eight years ago, was worse and left her with symptoms for months.

Courtney, then 16, finished an impressive 10th in her international debut in a junior race in the Czech Republic. The next weekend, she crashed at the start, fell down a rock garden and DNFed for the first and, she said, so far only time in her career.

“The combination of having this race where I thought, man, I really could do this and having a race where I thought, oh wow, this is a huge challenge, was the perfect spark,” she said.

Courtney was a world U23 silver medalist with 122,000 Instagram followers when she arrived at the 2018 World Championships.

“My motto on the start line was, an underdog is just an underdog,” Courtney said, “until they show their teeth and you realize it’s a wolf.”

She passed passed 2016 World champion Annika Langvad of Denmark on the seventh and final lap in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and won by 47 seconds in 1:34:55. She looked back several times after crossing the finish line in disbelief.

She earned the rainbow jersey — traditionally given to world champions across cycling disciplines. Courtney donned it on a ride for the first time on the Stelvio, an iconic Giro d’Italia climb.

“I had this kind of amazing moment where it all settled in,” Courtney remembered. “I ate gummy bears and cried and was just so excited to be able to wear this super special symbol that connects me to so many people in cycling.”

Courtney finished fifth in defense at last year’s worlds, but she gained a perhaps more prestigious title: World Cup overall champion for prowess over an entire season of racing. She goes into the Olympic year looking to earn the U.S.’ first gold medal in an event that debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Atlanta also marked Miller’s Olympics with that year’s Dream Team. Perhaps later this year they can again ride the Boo Hoff Trail, this time both as Olympic medalists.

“It’s exciting to see a kind of lifelong sport that unites so many different athletes,” Courtney said when asked about Miller’s mountain biking. “The fact that he doesn’t have an ego about that and it’s like, oh, I want to try this new thing, I want to learn it and does it publicly, is something I respect so much.

“I hope that I can do [that] in my career, although probably not with basketball, because I think it would be horrific for everyone involved.”

MORE: Athletes qualified for 2020 U.S. Olympic team

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Nothing like bikes and great friends to clear your mind. Can’t thank @kateplusfate enough for the unreal ride… We rode the Cove to Boo Hoff and I’ve NEVER seen anyone make it up Boo Hoff without hike a bike, people Kate rode it with ease like the Champ she is. Now me on the other hand, no shame in hiking, it’s a form of exercise 😳😂🤔.. Then we just had to find that damn Cove Lake, little did we know quicksand descents and quicksand gravel, but Ms SparkleWatts just floated over the quicksand, while my 190 pounds kept sinking, BUT WE MADE IT!!! Fantastic conversations with a fantastic person.. Now we have to get @bbcopeland aquatinted to desert life 😎😂😏… #SparkleWatts🌈 #BoombabyMeetsRainbowJersey

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U.S. women win record 27th consecutive FIBA World Cup game

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SYDNEY — There’s been a long legacy of success for the U.S. women’s basketball team at the World Cup.

The names change over time, but the results don’t seem to.

Kelsey Plum scored 20 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 and the United States routed Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 on Tuesday to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup.

The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The U.S. won 26 in a row from 1994-2006 leading up to that game. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

“It’s kind of amazing,” said Breanna Stewart, who has been part of the last three World Cup teams. “Obviously, been here for some of it, but you understand the legends before that who really kind of started the streak. It goes to show that no matter who is playing on USA Basketball, we’re always trying to chase excellence.

“This streak doesn’t mean much right now because we’re going into the quarterfinals and focusing on winning a gold medal, but it’s something to kind of hang your hat on later.”

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Stewart and A’ja Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t appear it will end anytime soon.

“The players change and, you know, there was a lot of concern about who’s next,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a concern when Dawn Staley and Lisa Leslie were playing and who was going to be next. Then it was Sue and (Taurasi) and then other great players, too. Now with this group they are saying, hey, we’re pretty good, too.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

The U.S. last lost a group play game in 1975, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

“We know the responsibility when you put on this jersey. There’s a lot more than yourself,” Plum said. “Everyone puts pride to the side. We have a common goal. We have some amazing players on this team.”

The Americans (5-0) won their pool games by an average of 46.2 points and never trailed in any of them. Now they play Serbia in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. was coming off a record rout of South Korea in which the team broke the World Cup record for points with 145. While the Americans didn’t match that number, they put the game out of reach in the first 10 minutes, going up 33-15.

The lead ballooned to 63-31 at halftime. Bosnia and Herzegovina put together a small run to start the third quarter, but the U.S. scored the final 19 points of the period.

Once again they used a dominant inside performance, outscoring Bosnia and Herzegovina 84-28 in the paint led by Wilson, Stewart and Brionna Jones.

“It’s a huge part of our identity,” Reeve said. “Ninety-whatever we had yesterday and 84 today, we just know what we’re good at and we have players that are really understanding their opportunities for that.”

The U.S. was missing Jewell Loyd, whom the team said was resting. Kahleah Copper started in her place and finished with 11 points.

Nikolina Elez scored 19 points to lead the Bosniaks (0-5), who were playing in their first World Cup.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA vs. Serbia
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada vs. Puerto Rico
4 a.m. China vs. France
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Belgium
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final