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A Racers' Process Begins with an Opportunity

This team of hungry young racers is taking every opportunity they can to improve their riding and racing.

A Racers' Process Begins with an Opportunity


The word process, when used in a sporting context is a means of explaining the steps that any athlete must take, both long-term and short, to achieve the desired outcome. For many athletes, this process begins organically; play a wide variety of sports, pursue them with passion, earn success through effort and determination, and then seek new challenges. At some point, athletes enter a more competitive arena and to see ongoing progress, the process needs to become deliberate.

The goals for just about every competitive mountain bike athlete are similar; compete to one’s potential, succeed in competition, and continue to improve. But for coaches like Joel Harwood of Blueprint Athlete Development, what ultimately determines the likelihood of achieving these goals is in the process and this is where he feels every athlete differs.

The process for the 2020 race season started out as planned for the Blueprint team. We connected with them to work on part one of the story during the pre-season team camp. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has stepped in with something to say about how those plans pan out, delaying things as we move along. As a team, however, everyone continues to train, though at a lower output than if we were heading to the races—the timing is perfect to get back to basics. Where the story goes from here remains to be written.

Coach Harwood rallies the troops for another drill.

Part I: Opportunity

For athletes, every off-season can be seen as an opportunity. There’s time to reflect on previous successes and failures and it’s a chance to work on a program that addresses particular needs before the next competitive season. As a racer, especially a privateer, there are many hurdles that challenge the equilibrium between life and racing. For the young Blueprint Racing team, it takes a degree of sacrifice to balance mountain biking with high-school, university, work, and maintaining relationships. The passion for racing requires time, dedication, money and risk, none of which guarantee the desired outcome. This is why the process is critical—the most successful athletes devote themselves to it.

Emmett Hancock and Milton McConville saw some success as first-year junior downhill racers but each struggled to ride to their full potential on the world stage. 2020 represents another opportunity to capitalize on their successes from last season and address their setbacks before racing begins.

Carter Krasny and Julia Long are at the opposite end of the spectrum. While Carter and Julia saw a great deal of success as U21 enduro racers, they’re both starting the 2020 season at the bottom of the heap. As first-year elite racers, they must now compete against their role models, mentors, and idols. No easy feat, but after a great off-season and with more drive than ever, each is poised to make their first elite season more than a learning experience, they aim to make a statement to themselves and their competition.

Julia, Emmett and Lucy climb through the winter moss.

Lucy Shick enters the 2020 season in a challenging position. After winning the 2019 U21 EWS overall, Schick begins this season knowing that she has the potential to cement herself as a dominant up and comer but must also face the pressure of elevating her riding to the next level as she prepares to make the leap to elite in 2021.

With most of the off-season behind them, the Blueprint Racing crew met in Squamish for their final pre-season training session to discuss the upcoming season with us. Each of them seems poised but the pressure to meet their expectations can be sensed when they discuss how they've prepared and what steps they must take to earn success this season. Time will undoubtedly tell but with their sights set on the finer details of performing at the highest level, Blueprint Racing is set to make 2020 their best season yet.

See you at the track.

Blueprint x NSBillet

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