Age: 24 Specs: 5-foot-6, 120 pounds
Home: Dijon, France
THE CASE: Simply put, there has never been a more dominant mountain biker.Chausson has claimed every downhill world championship since 1996. She's won 70 percent of the World Cup races held since then, often crushing the field by obscene margins, deftly avoiding the flat tires and catastrophic crashes that routinely keep contenders from even crossing the line. She cruises through knots of root and rock that force others to dismount, flies over head-high drops that cause opponents to jam on their disc brakes, and does it all with an unsettling air of supremely confident indifference. Perhaps that's because she started racing BMX bikes when she was six, thus hardwiring her untouchable piloting skills. Then again, maybe it's just that she's French.
SECOND OPINION: "The difference between her and the other women is that she's not using the front of her brain when she races," says American downhiller Marla Streb. "She's just not afraid."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Sliding out on her Ducati motorcycle in Dijon last year. "I didn't get hurt," says Chausson, "but it was more scary than anything that's ever happened to me on a mountain bike."
WHAT'S NEXT: Finding a new team—Volvo/Cannondale is considering dropping its downhill program—and, in the immediate future, skiing. "I love big powder. I think now I will begin to jump some cliffs."