New Zealand DH Action - DHSS Final Round at Cardrona

The DH Southern Series (DHSS) in New Zealand is not your average race series. It’s put on by people who are passionate about providing well-run events and fostering a competitive and professional-feeling platform upon which the DH scene and next-gen riders can progress. The reigns are not in the hands of one person, rather each round is host by the local MTB club or venue, with each spoken-for round then contributing to the larger series overall. It’s a very effective format, producing fun events and providing a positive environment for both kids and elite shredders alike.

As an outsider looking in, Vital was impressed with the Youth and Women's class turnout, as those categories have proved challenging to grow back in the USA. Predictably, the weather was unpredictable, throwing heavy cloud/fog cover during most of practice and the entire duration of the race. It made for challenging spectating but kept the heat at bay and the track in tackier condition (relative to what a baking hot sun would have provided). With the best of two runs being the format after 2 hours of practice, it was a full-on from 10am to noon, and even rowdier come race time. Being a small community, the β€œmates race” feel of the afternoon made for a lot of laughs and light-hearted heckling. A good-natured event with a total of 50 racers starting made for a fun and low-key morning and afternoon of riding and racing. The DHSS sets a strong example of how things should be done.

The day kicked off with riders gathering at the Chondola to get up the hill.
The Crown Range is a big, rolling region and the views from the start showed the scale.
The first section was arguably the hardest, and a reminder of a how far away the parking lot was if one got a flat was enough for all riders to have a closer look.

The entire course was visible from the race lift, which made for some solid spectating and heckling.

Eva Dethlefsen keeping her elbows and knees wide in the unpredictable rocks.

The yougest competitor of the event, Mica Drake, gives the rocks a roll. 17th in U17 at 12 years old.
Sean McCarroll astride his massive Mondraker smashing through the rocks before the fog arrived.

The finals DHSS race was Bryn Dickerson's first time back between the tape since the final round of the World Cup at Val di Sole.

Cardrona is super exposed, it's all tussocks and rocks...very unforgiving.

DNS for Chris Calland after this little OTB - he's ok, just a sore thumnb.
Keegan Wright putting his new factory ride to the test as he skirts Chris' carnage.

Melissa "Mop" Newell was one of the most stoked people all day.

Pete Muir is a big man, but even he is dwarfed by the shear size of the hill.

Sean Barclay styling it out in practice, but gave it the beans in the race for 10th in Open Men.
Cheeky seatgrab from George Brannigan as he drifts through the mist in practice.

Craig Munro titled his instagram story, "Gorilla in the mist" - pretty spot on.

Sending it into the void.

For 2018, rolled-up skinny jeans are going to be the must-have race kit. Callum Booth demonstrating their aero abilities.
Sending it to just about flat, Simon Reed definitely looked for the limit in practice.

Builder by weekday, shredder by weekend, Reon Boe is a beast on a bike. 6th in Open Men.

Franki Evans leaping from the stepdown during a brief clearing in the clouds,

The groms know how to get after it in New Zealand.

Jimi Ramsey was pushing hard all day, but unfortunately took himself out in his first race run.

Looking comfortable early on, Bryn found his stride and was able to turn up the speed quickly.

From Fernhill Frenzy to Cardies tussock bashing, Kepler Rek is always charging.

Even if it was hard to see in the fog, finding the track was always pretty easy, as it was the only clear space in front of you. Out in the Crown range, track building means carving out earth, as the terrain is so rough and rugged.
Everything a little more casual in this part of the world, including course taping and preparation.
The ravine gap wasn't big, but the view from it was...George Brannigan jumping into a painting.

A hard working builder and an even harder rider, Jamie Lyall was deconstructing the track with each run. 5th in Open Men.

Liam Barclay dialing in what would be his 2nd place race runs in U19.
Better known for hucking and his wild bag of tricks, Antoine Bizet came out to hang with friends and get a little timed-action in while he's down here in NZ.
The undulating weather made for some really stark looking scenery at times. Reece Potter set against the cloud.
Reece Potter making the leap and keeping it casual with a great tie-dye kit.

Some riders used this rock as a lip, Reece Potter pre-jumped in, and landed in 4th in Open Men.

Jimi Ramsey was looking to be in contention for the win all morning during practice. He'll be back!
Riley Adlam is one to watch: 3rd in U17 at 14 years old, getting just beaten by his older brother by 3 seconds.
Pete Muir used his reach to muscle the bike into the fast lines. 2nd in Masters Men.

Alex Barke would have been 9th in Open Men with his winning U17 time!

The man with the plan, they call him Spy, and he was on course sweep duties when he wasn't on the radio organizing.

Graham Dunbar in audio

Pulling double-duty, Mop was also catching the chair back up after each run to follower he nephew Josh during his runs.
Mop opted for the safer outside line in her first run - gotta be in it to win it!

Kids these days, they know that style counts!

Feet up and drifting into 8th place in Open Men, Keegan Wright looks to be settling into the new bike well.

The catch corner after the ravine gap was narrow and literally on the edge of what turned into a 50-degree slope...Simon Reed digging in and making sure to stay on line.
Scrubbing the ravine gap, Jamie Lyall was aggressively hunting for time.

Attacking the rough, Eva Dethlefsen kept it fast and low for 2nd in Open Women.

Focused and consistent, Hannah White rode smart for 3rd in Open Women.

Glad we didn't need this service during the event.
The keepers of the time were dialed and super nice. Just give the timing equipment a wide berth when walking!
Josh Newell dropping into the finish with shouts of encouragement from Auntie Mop, going 16th in U17.
Max Canulton showing that the future of DH is looking strong with a 10th-place finish in U17 at 13 years old.
Keegan Wright rides like he's spring-loaded, and it launched him into 8th in Open Men.
Worth noting, Keegan Wright didn't have a chain for his 2nd run as he smoked his drive train in his first run.

Skills trump equipment; Alex Barke shredding a trail bike into 1st in U17.

Full-on to the finish, Simon Read earned his 3rd place in Open Men with some rugged riding.

Simon Reed in audio

The track was really loose by the end of the day and Calum Booth kept it wild for 2nd place in Open Men.

Callum Booth in audio

He was really surprised to take the win, but on-lookers weren't as shocked.

Bryn Dickerson, Race Winner, in audio

Lunging across the line, Bryn was one of the few riders to really push to the line.

Nearly half of the Open Men's field party training back to the base lodge for a post-race feed.
You can see Queenstown from the summit, with the Remarkables and Ben Lomond book ending the Wakatipu Basin.
U17 [LtR]: Jayd Adlam, Alex Barke, Riley Adlam
U19 [LtR]: Liam Barclay, Anton Cousins, Kane Heka
Simon, Craig, Jimi, and Kep all review the the times from the day and regale loose moments.
The DHSS event was basically a national-level race with the atmosphere of a mates race. Reece, Antoine, and George enjoying the post-race sun (which finally came out).
Open Men [LtR] Calum Booth, Bryn Dickerson, Simon Read.
Overall Winners: Pete Muir (Masters), Alex Barke (U17), Callum Booth (Open Men). Women Women and U19 Men winners were not present at the time of awards.

'Til next time!


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