Oceania DH Champs - Photos and Rider Interviews from Day 1 1

The term ping pong was thrown around a lot today as downhill riders in the southern Pacific tackled the Dunedin, NZ course for the first time at Oceanias.

Oceanias is the event which brings together mountain bike competitors from the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, or more officially, "...a geographic region comprising Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and Australasia". (Wikipedia) It would be like if Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Central America had an event to see who the fastest DH rider was in North America.  While the race has become less well attended in recent years due to "off-season" months now having a stacked schedule of one-off events, it hasn't tempered the spirit of the weekend.  This year, Signal Hill in Dunedin, NZ, is the location. It's a staple on the national circuit and a favorite among many riders.  The Elite Men and Women's roster is rife with World Cup-level talent and a few wild cards only known on the regional level.  Practice was a warm and dry day, though the forecast for Sunday is looking less friendly.  Regardless of what the weather does, the low-key-but-serious event is shaping up to be a wicked battle in all categories, as there is deep talent present.  You'll know many of the names, and a few you won't - but pay attention, as this scene has fast folk lurking around each corner.

-By Zach Faulkner

Welcome to Dunedin!

The gang is all here, ready to heckle (Eddie) and ready to ride (everyone else).
The start of the DH track is atop Signal Hill, a scenic overlook on the fringe of town with a monument dedicated to the intrepid settlers at the peak.

Gareth Burgess, race focus, engaged!

Gareth Burgess in audio

Cycle Path vs. Race Track. Cole Lucas turning and burning on the latter.

Likely the fastest builder between the tape, Jamie Lyall works hard and rider harder.
Pat Hale boosting into the opening stretch of track.

Being a local, Calum Booth knows this track so well he decided to set pace by chasing his shadow.

Calum Booth in audio

Shania Rawson has serious pace and will be the woman to watch on race day.
Training in Queenstown for the past two weeks, Nathan Ouamba is in from New Caledonia and lookiing to be a favored contender in U17.

Former builder at Skyline in Queenstown, Simon Read is heading off to university soon, but it is all about root gaps and smashing rocks this weekend.

Simon Read in audio

The hype around Wyn Master's bike was all online. He was cool and collected all day, shredding the proto machine with ease.

Wyn Masters in audio

He's been recovering for a majority of the off-season, but based on how Wyn is riding, you'd never know it.

High Pivot with Idler.
These are spy shots.  The full bike has already been seen, but a few sneaky close-ups were managed to satiate my own nerdy interests, and fuel the fire for others like me.  It's a high-pivot, Horst Link design...it's dope.  Wyn was smashing the track and the bike looked like it was working well, which is neat.  I think it's important to note that prototypes in the wild are never polished e.g. fully-finished, dialed or even ready-to-ride.  This bike is still being refined in places as would be expected, but on a whole, it's very close to being something the average consumer might be able to acquire.  I'm sure GT isn't suuuuper pumped about all the attention the bike got (OR ARE THEY?!?! #internetgames), as they'd like to present us all with basically a show-room floor, fully pimped, race-ready machine.  But, I know I am always excited to see something "in the making", and to see a new design from a brand with such interesting history and heritage in the sport, to me, is worth sharing.  Here at Vital, we are always excited about innovation and the process that goes along with it.  Wyn was tight-lipped, as expected, which we respected, but we're pumped to see him aboard something that we might one day be able to test out ourselves!  

Always one to look out for, Rupert Chapman is rocking the #2 plate and showing pace to once again put up a fight on the results sheet come Sunday.

One of the many talents to steam out of Rotorua, Louis Hamilton was getting long with the rough track just fine.

Not a household name, Pat Butler is an under-the-radar Aussie who likes to send it...all the time.
Party train featuring Billy Meaclem, Boaz Hebblethwaite, and Nils Heiniger.
Escaping the UK Winter, James Purvis is down here with his mates having a go at the endless summer of shredding.
There continues to be debate about which line to take in the rock garden (high right line visible with Rupert and James)...and then Reece Potter goes and takes the smoother low line, and gaps out into the High Line run-out.  Line selection is rad.

James Purvis in audio

Tom Matthews was part of the OG Vanzacs back in 2015. No slowing down.

Jonty Vink seems to have inherited some speed from Wyn after buying his old bike.

I missed a lot of shots of Blenki today...he is so fast and so smooth, if I didn't see him coming I'd only finally see him after he blasted by. #1 for a reason.

ON YOUR LEFT! Lesson: If you roll a jump in a train with your mate, stay out of the mainline - Riley Adlam reminding Jordan Fernadez.

Sam Robbie doing his best Late 90's turnbar impression.
There is a rule at the event that riders must where long sleeves. Being that it's hot in NZ, that's not a common wardrobe item for most riders.  Bryn Dickerson rocking a sick throwback piece.

Flying under a blazing sun with Peter Bethell.

Racing for Australia this weekend on an honorary basis, Craig Munro professes that he will always be and still is Scottish.

Craig Munro in audio

Bryn is stoked, are you?

Bryn Dickerson in audio

She has an intense focus, Hannah White isn't here to chew gum.

It is pretty cool overlooking downtown and the sea from the track. Reece sending it straight to the chip shop.

This resulted in a flat landing. Jamie Lyall was feeling it, and felt it.

Sean McCarroll not going slow!

Her first race in three years, Sophie Tyas is back between the tape for a laugh.  She is riding at her best - sometimes going back to riding just for fun is the key.
Shania Rawson sending with ease.
Troy Stewart is a staple of NZ racing, attending pretty any and all races he can.  Shredding harder on a bike that a good percentage of the U17 kids wouldn't know ever existed.
He had goggles, but Troy  seemed to prefer the fresh air.

The only rider on a Zerode G275, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene was pinned both in the air and on the ground.

It is easy to agonize over line choices, but sometime you just gotta send it and see what works. Bryn putting in the work.

Stay tuned for race day action coming this weekend!


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