Eliza from O’Connor last month had the opportunity to work at the 2013 UCI Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup series with 9 junior athletes from Australia. Here is her summary of her experience below.
Aussie Juniors Take on the World
June saw the kick-off of the 2013 UCI Downhill World Cup series with round one and two held in Fort William, Scotland and Val di Sole, Italy respectively. This is the first year a junior category (under-19) has been introduced to the World Cup series and Australia was able to send 7 boys and 2 girls to gain experience in what it takes to compete with the world’s best at both rounds. Several more senor athletes (u23 and elite) were also joining the squad, including MTB super-star and Olympian Caroline Buchanan. Accompanying this crew were three staff members: Nathan Rennie, Tim Chadd and myself with roles encompassing coach, manager, mechanic, soigneur, physio, medico, driver, chaperone, cat-hearder and wild-goose-chaser. The squad’s coach, downhill local-legend Jared Rando was unfortunately unable to accompany the team for this trip.
Fort William greeted the squad with Tolkien-esque soaring hill-sides, snow-capped peaks, moss-covered trees, bubbling brooks and a wicked, rocky, rough and technical downhill course for the first round of the World Cup series. Race day was spectator-packed, with a massive grand-stand filled with clapping, whistle-blowing adoring fans and likewise, people lining the entire course. The Aussie juniors performed exceptionally well with Dean Lucas taking a podium position in 3rd for the junior males, Tegan Molloy also taking third and Danielle Beecroft claiming 5th for the junior females.
Time-warp forward one week and the team could be found settling into the beautiful surrounds of the Italian alps in Val di Sole. However, if Fort William’s course was wicked, Val di Sole was positively evil: the toughest course on the World Cup circuit. Val di Sole was a steep, rooty, rocky track that was constantly changing and morphing into something more terrifying with each practice run. Quite an experience to witness in real-time, these World-class athletes fearlessly bombing down this course with such fluidity and grace. Again the Aussie team were stunning, this time with Dean Lucas claiming first and team-mate Luke Ellison in 9th for the junior males and Danielle Beecroft in second and Tegan Molloy in 4th for the junior females.
A fantastic trip and some great experience gained for the athletes ahead of the World Championships to be held in South Africa later this year.