Nel­son rid­ers tri­umph in snow-down

The Leader (Tasman) - - GAR­DEN­ING - TIM O'CON­NELL

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.’’

SUP­PLIED

Zoe Nathan was one of three Nel­son win­ners at the na­tional moun­tain­bik­ing cham­pi­onships, held at Cardrona.

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