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Hot Russian Mountain Bike Racer: Irina Kalentieva

20. July 2010 by Christy 0 Comments

Irina “Ira” Kalentieva is a professional cross-country mountain bike racer from Russia. This lovely and talented athlete is an Olympic medalist, a two-time world champion, and the winner of several national and European championships. She was also featured as Ms. December in the 2009 Cycle Passion calendar.


Early Career

Irina was born on November 10, 1977 in the small village of Norwash-Shigali. She grew up on a small farm with her 3 siblings and braved the rough roads of her village to ride her bike to school every day. It was here where she received her fist, albeit informal, cross-country mountain bike training.

At age 14, Irina won a cycling grant and she moved to the city of Tscheboksary to attend school. She quickly distinguished herself as the most talented rider at the school, and it wasn’t long before Irina began competing internationally. She placed 4th in her first world championship and soon moved to Germany to continue to train and to develop her career. The brutal Russian winters and impassable roads made this impossible for Irina to do at home. 


Olympic Dreams

Though she managed to win a number of prestigious mountain bike racing championships, Irina longed to win an Olympic medal. Her first opportunity came at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, but an infection left her weak and she was unable to achieve her goal. However, she quickly bounced back and won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics 4 years later.

Irina is still an active competitor and her next event is the World Cup Champéry in Switzerland beginning July 23, 2010. We wish her the best of luck!


Career Highlights

•    World Champion 2009, 2007
•    Silver Medal European Championship 2009, 2008, 2007
•    Olympic Bronze Medalist 2008
•    World Championship Bronze Medalist 2008
•    Overall Worldcup title 2007
•    7 times Russian National Champion
•    4 times German National Series Champion