Early specialization, high-priced training, famous mentors… we often associate such advantages with an athlete’s run to the Olympics. But Sofia Gomez Villafañe’s path has been one less traveled; a trail she’s ridden in about the least archetypal way imaginable. As a professional rapidly ascending to the pinnacle of her sport, this Entourage athlete can confidently assert that she’s done things her own way.
Born in Argentina in 1994 as the fourth child of six, Sofia was raised in Esquel, Patagonia until the age of twelve, when her family moved to Los Gatos, California.
Understandably, the transition was difficult. Having poured all their money into attaining green cards, Sofia’s family was financially strapped upon arrival. They initially moved into a one-bedroom apartment; Sofia and her siblings slept in the living room.
At school, the transition was no easier. Picking up the nuances of American culture and speech patterns was beyond tricky. And moving from a high school class of 15 in Argentina to a class of 300 in California was a serious shock to her system. How would she carve out a place for herself?
Her older brother and sister had raced and Sofia figured mountain biking offered an avenue through which she could stand out and do her own thing amid a sea of students. When she was 15, her brother found a bike on Craigslist for $500 and she swiftly took to competition through the Nor Cal High School Mountain Bike Program. And to help pay for her foray into the sport, she picked up a job at a local law firm.
While Sofia enjoyed mountain biking and nurtured a fragile dream of one day competing in the Olympics, none of that was an immediate focus. Instead, she took on loan debt (approximately $30,000 worth) to attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, where she picked up another part-time job at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Around this time, she also became a full-fledged American citizen.
Although she competed for Fort Lewis College, Sofia was laser-focused on earning her Bachelor’s in exercise science. It wasn’t until her senior year that she finally had the opportunity to get serious about the sport she loved. But since that time… whew. The accolades have rolled in fast and furious!
Following graduation, Sofia quickly ascended from a collegiate racer in a crowded field to a global standout in the sport. With the help of coach Carmen Small, together they began taking on—and defeating—some of the best in competition.
Sofia started scoring sponsors. She paid off her student loans. And she became one of the top women in the world of mountain biking, excelling as the XCO Argentinian National Champ (2018, 2019) and the XCC Argentinian National Champ (2019).
And the Olympics? As it turned out, not even a global pandemic could keep Sofia from fulfilling her dream. At the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games (held in 2021), she became the first female mountain biker to compete in the Olympics for Argentina since 2004. It was a dream fulfilled.
Now a resident of Heber City, Utah, Sofia hasn’t slowed down.
She continues to Live Life in Forward Motion, both literally and figuratively. The ferocious competitor is maintaining her ascent within the professional mountain biking scene, competing across North America and beyond. Alongside fellow Blenders Entourage biker, Russell Finsterwald, she now rides for the Specialized Off-Road team, splitting time between gravel and cross country races for the 2022 season.
Even as Sofia’s increased multi-disciplinary focus is pushing her to become an even more well-balanced cyclist, she’s preserving balance in other areas of her life, too. She’s held onto her job at the Ritual Chocolate Company in Park City, now serving as administrative manager—not because she has to, but because she cherishes the opportunity to be successful in something outside of sports.
Oh, and she hasn’t stopped dreaming, either. Her new dream? Dancing With the Stars.
Hey, we dig it, Sofia. Keep dreaming big—and welcome to the Blenders family!