The 21st instalment of the Australian Interschools Mountain Bike Championships in Thredbo last weekend celebrated in style, with a record field of riders, exceptional riding, great sportsmanship and a mountain of team spirit on display.
The four day event was jam packed with action and with school prestige on the line there was plenty to ride for.
Over 550 school aged riders, representing 100 schools, raced across four age divisions in three point scoring competitions plus two fun exhibition events. Downhill, Cross-Country and Flow Trail all accumulated points for the school and the fast and flowing Pump Track Challenge and a Sprint Relay drawing good numbers and a big crowd.
“The grass roots of mountain biking starts here with the Australian Interschool MTB Champs in Thredbo. This event encourages participation with disciplines catering for riders of all abilities from students who regularly attend races through to riders new to mountain bike competition,” said Danny Taliana Thredbo MTB Manager.
Thredbo turned on the alpine charm with mostly fine weather across the weekend apart from a windy Sunday that whipped up the dust for the cross-country event.
The Flow Trail event saw a massive field line-up at the top of Thredbo ready for the 4.5km descent to the village. While the division one riders set a blistering pace, it was the mini-shredders, who were able to have a shadow rider to get them down the mountain, that received the biggest cheer from the crowd as they hit the finish line. In teams, the big Heathcote crew, podiumed across most divisions.
Home track knowledge saw locals set a cracking pace down the three-kilometre downhill course and feature high in the rankings across all divisions. Jindabyne Central School’s Jackson Connelly and Angus Falconer took first and third respectively in division three and the teams win. Run of the day went to Snowy Mountains Grammar School rider James Findlay who took the division 1 win in 5:18, finishing second in the past couple of years he pulled out a scorching run in his last interschools event.
As the sun went down on a big day of racing, attention turned to the Pump Track Challenge, which was certainly a crowd pleaser. There were bikes and riders of all sizes and ages taking on the free-rolling track and the big crowd cheered them around the berms and over the rollers to the finish.
The cross-country event wrapped up the weekend, with around 400 kids lapping the newly refurbished 2.5 kilometre Friday Flat loop. Along with the podium places, the cross-country event results were also crucial in deciding the prestigious king and queen of the mountain awards, so riders had to dig deep. The course is 70/30 uphill to downhill and at altitude, it certainly tested the fitness of the competitors, especially after an already huge weekend of racing.
A starting strategy was key, with a mass start causing congestion for back of the pack competitors. While the light carbon frame bikes powered the uphill, the enduro riders lapped up the new table tops and fresh berms. The men’s division 1 battle saw Kirrawee High School’s Harry Watson and St Ignatius College Riverview Oliver Arcus battle it out through the six laps. Looking at a 6:30average lap time each, it was Watson that hit the line first only one second ahead of Arcus.
Consistency was rewarded with the crowning of eight divisional kings and queens of the mountain for those who participated and placed well right across the weekend.
The hotly contested overall champion school saw Heathcote High School take the shield for the eleventh year in a row. St Ignatius College Riverview won the boy’s school title and Saint Mary’s Wollongong winning the girls.
The weekend was not only about riding, podiums and trophies – it was also about spirit and sportsmanship like the young rider that rolled her bike from top to bottom after a flat to make sure her school gained points, the teacher that loaned her bike to a student whose bike broke, the dad that helped fix a strangers bike, the year 12 rider who shed a tear as this was their last interschools, the high fives, laughs and the friends that were made with like-minded mates across the weekend. This event certainly ticked all boxes.
“It was awesome to see the kids getting behind their fellow team members, making for an electric atmosphere across the four days of racing. World Champions are born from events like this, along with promoting and providing healthy outdoor activities for our future generations,” said Taliana.
For full results please click here.