Round 1 Coronet Peak
The Central Otago sun beat down on Scarlett Hagen (Elite Women) and Nathan Rankin (Elite Men) this weekend as they turned up the intensity to score wins in the first round of the Subaru South Island Downhill Cup series.
An ex New Zealand representative, Rankin (Levin) had reportedly retired from competitive mountain biking but managed a fantastic race run narrowly beating the Yeti team rider Justin Leov (Christchurch) into second place by less than a second. Hagen (Queenstown) took a comfortable first win from Dunedin based rider Sheryl MacLeod by 12 seconds. Competition in the under 19 Men's category was also fierce, with Brook MacDonald taking the title in a time that was sixth fastest over the whole field.
The purpose built mountain bike tracks on the tussock slopes of Coronet Peak were full of mountain bikers during the two days of competition in hot still weather conditions. It was one of the biggest fields seen at a Mountain Bike New Zealand downhill race with 265 competitors entered, with some from as far away as Auckland, Australia, Austria and the UK. Over the last two years Coronet Peak have been investing in their summer mountain bike operation and the large numbers of riders during the weekend attest to the quality of the tracks and facilities.
During the next week, riders will continue to hone their skills on the Coronet tracks which remain open to the public. The next round of the Subaru South Island Downhill Cup is scheduled for another high altitude venue – Dirt Park (Pisa Range), Wanaka 8-9 January, before continuing up the island to the final round in Nelson on 12-13 January.
Click here to view Coronet Peak downhill results
Round 2 Dirt Park, Wanaka, 8-9 January 2008
After their first up wins at Coronet Peak last weekend in Round 1, Scarlett Hagen (Elite Women) and Nathan Rankin (Elite Men) again showed their class at Round 2, held at the new Dirt Park venue in spectacular weather.
Riding a newly built track winding through spectacular rock stacks and spiky Spaniard Grass Rankin posted a time 3 seconds faster than his closest rival Michael Skinner (Auckland), while Hagen nailed a big gap of 17 seconds over the second placed woman home Helene Fruhwirth (Austria). Continuing his good form of last week Brook MacDonald (Napier) again won the Under 19 Men's category, with a time that would have put him in third place in the Elite field.
All three riders now have unbeatable leads in the 3 round competition, which concludes this weekend in Nelson. Reports of the track from Nelson say that the last three days of rain have provided the perfect moisture level for riding and it is expected to be fine for the next three days of practice and racing.
After the conclusion of this series which has seen record numbers of participants, the North Island Subaru Downhill Cup continues with riders also preparing for the National Mountain Bike Championships to be held in Wellington Thursday 21st February to Sunday 24th February 2008.