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2014 Oceania DH Championships Action - Sam Blenkinsop Reigns in the Rain

<b>Sam Blenkinsop has been training hard the whole off-season. With South Africa about a month away, it's good to start the year off with a big win.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Blenki boldy blasting big boulder bumps.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Dirty weeds. Mud shirt. Steep. (say to the tune of that AC/DC song)</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Eddie Masters magnificently mach'ing motorways.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Eddie Master's kept his run clean and under control, It's probably a good feeling to get down the bottom, thinking you could have given more while taking 2nd place with some of the big hitters going down.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Custom mud guards.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Cam Cole had the fastest time in seeding and was looking fast all weekend, wet or dry. A slip up top cost him victory, but he was happy with 3rd place.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>(Cam Cole in audio, not pictured) This guy needed a post-practice, pre-race beer. It was a tough day on the hill.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>It's good to see Cam Cole also coming back from a big injury and finding some speed and form. A little stack on the timber bridge saw him slip to 3rd.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>U19 rider, Ben Watkins, floating above the clouds after taking the win in the Junior category. </b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Matt Walker will boost and look rad for the camera every chance he gets. 7th place on the results sheet, 1st place in our hearts. KAPOW!</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Brook MacDonald had wings out of this ridgeline rise. The Red Bull must have finally kicked in.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Conditions for everyone were just a little damp and many riders weren't prepared with equipment. Brook MacDonald only had a mud tire up front. 4th for Brook was a solid result for his second race back from injury and a slippery rear end.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Same bike bigger wheels for the Trek team.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>The weather was a fair bit nicer Saturday morning compared to Sunday race day. New Zealand...hey, #notbad</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Cous Cous had fun sending it in the sun, but the the UR crew wasn't that stoked to get dirty and boned out instead of racing in the mud.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Dan Meilink, the Bergamont Hayes World Cup team mechanic, keeps a close eye on his rider Eddie Masters through the rocks.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>This was the crazy, last tree section before the finish. Not many were committing to the straight line. Jamie Lyall figured he was was going to get loose in this chute anyway, so he might as well start off at the top.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Reon Boe gives us a good idea of just how steep the chute was.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Some riders struggled but kept charging. Swiss rider, Maxime Chapuis, still managed 13th even with this muddy run out.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Some riders killed the steeps. Wyn Masters had a crash high up on the track and was easily the fastest through this section. He made up for the crash and took 6th place.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>U19 rider, Keegan Wright, seeded fastest in the dry, but 3 crashes in the wet saw earned him 3rd.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Casey Brown helps Jack Moir wash his bike...by taking photos of it. Casey just got her bike and opted not to race until she's had some time on it.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Let the clean up begin. Despite what some internet folk say, 27.5-inch wheels get you just as dirty as 26-inch ones.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>I'd like to thank medium-sized wheels...</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Thomas Crimmins made the trip across the ditch, to sample some NZ shred. The muddy, steep condition aren't what the Aussies are used to, but it's great practice for the World Cups.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Brook the Bulldog blisters bendy berms by bike.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Fabien Cousine was looking really fast in the dry. This line, however, would have been too hard for him in the wet. Luckily he went home before the race.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Wyn Master dropping into the last woods section with tons of new-found confidence. He was one of the most-controlled riders all weekend...which seemed weird.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>U19 Jack Fisher getting all pinned and tucked.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Plenty of backyard mechanic'ing going on. Blenki was probably trying to fit a 26-inch tube in his new 27.5-inch wheels. #theyKeepsItRealinNZ</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Guillaume Cauvin of Hutchinson UR has been training down in Queenstown most of the off-season. He was probably a bit worried about how this section would run in the wet. Also opting out of finals in the mud.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Every chance Matt Walker gets...KAPOW #2!</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Everyone knew the rain was coming and spikes were getting cut everywhere. The weather was supposed to be cyclonic, but we ended up with just a little precipitation.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Blenki looks sick in the wet or dry.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Precisely popping pooled precipitation.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>Eddie Masters reveling in his new rider/manager role at the Bergamont Hayes team or as The Shins new lead singer? You decide.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>All Kiwis learn how to wash their bike in a creek with an energy can at an early age. It's why they make the most exciting and interesting privateers.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

<b>It's alway's nice to quench your thirst at the end of the day with champagne. Nice job Blenki.</b> Tim Bardsley-Smith

This year it was the Kiwi’s turn to hold the Oceania MTB Championships and a freshly-worked track at Mt. Hutt, just outside of Christchurch, was the venue. With locals like Sam Blenkinsop and a freshly-healed Cam Cole keen to show their wares for the upcoming World Cup season, it was set to be a rad race. Brook MacDonald had a new bike and made the trip, as had the Masters brothers, Wyn and Eddie.

Everyone knew the first two days of practice would have good weather, but Cyclone Luci had other plans for race day. It was supposed to be torrential rain and gale force winds. Seeding was moved forward and plans were in place just in case the cyclone forces showed. The rain came overnight and during the day, but the wind didn’t play its part, leaving the race to continue in true World Cup conditions. With a crazy-steep chute into the finish playing on the minds of the racers, it was a race set to test abilities to the limit.

When the clock stopped, Sam Blenkinsop had the composure and speed to keep it together to earn the Oceania Championship victory. Enjoy a wet, wild New Zealand-style slideshow from photographer Tim Bardsley-Smith.

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