Nelson riders triumph in snow-down
Another southern blitz has brought another slew of titles for Nelson’s mountainbiking fraternity.
Following solid performances at the Oceania championships in Dunedin two weeks ago, Nelson riders Zoe Nathan, Rebecca Hufflett, Cameron Jones and Henry Jaine have produced more mountain bike magic at the national championships held in Wanaka over the weekend.
While Hufflett and Nathan managed to maintain their winning form from Dunedin in the under 15 and under 17 cross country events respectively, Jones was Nelson’s big improver in taking out the under-19 category after a fifth place finish at the previous event.
Hufflett also competed in the downhill event amongst some patches of remaining snow, and took away a double title for the weekend.
Jaine claimed third place in the under 23 category, racing in the elite event where he finished fourth behind overall winner Anton Cooper.
The effects of Cyclone Gita forced organisers to split the venues for the event.
While Sunday’s downhill competition remained at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, snow that fell in the storm last week made the cross-country course unsuitable, prompting a last minute course change to Hawea Flat.
For Year 12 Nelson College for Girls student Nathan, this year’s result came as a relief after finishing runner-up in 2017.
‘‘I’d never raced on that course before, it was quite different for a cross country with some pinchy climbs – it wasn’t as tough as Oceania but it was still a good challenging course.’’
‘‘The competitions are always pretty tough - the South Island [championship] was the first race for not knowing what I was up against - by the time I’d done the Oceania’s and up to the nationals I kind of had an idea of what to expect, but you never know how everyone else is going to go on the day.’’
Nathan said winning at the nationals was made all the more satisfying by the fact that three other Nelson riders claimed victory or a podium finish.
She also paid tribute to Andy Reid at Village Cycles, who had offered vital training advice in recent months.
With a national title under her belt, Nathan was now looking forward to a break from competition over winter, with road cycling and local mountain bike events keeping her fit ahead of the South Island Secondary Schools event later in the year..
She envisaged a steep learning curve in the coming months as she prepared to step up to the under 19 grade next year. The possibility of overseas competition also loomed large as a future goal, she said.
‘‘There’s definitely a lot of work to be done to get there – the girls that I’ll be racing in that age group are pretty fast but with hard work I should be able to get there.’’
Zoe Nathan was one of three Nelson winners at the national mountainbiking championships, held at Cardrona.