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Slopestyles - Queenstown Bike Festival 2014

Posted by Dave Fahey: 20th Apr 2014 @ 22:07:41

As the sun disappeared behind the hills the lights kicked into gear and the music cranked as the Ballarat car park swelled with people wanting to get a glimpse of the 2014 Slopestyles.

The signature event of bike fest is New Zealand’s only Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour 2014 event. Every year 300 cubic meters of pristine dirt are trucked into the Ballarat St car park and sculpted into jumps and landings for the six feature course. Riders begin dropping in from a 6 meter scaffold before scaling the 5.4m high quarter to wall hip. From here riders line up the main line of features with a in and out fruit bowl dropping elevation and increasing speed into the ‘money’ booter before tricking out with the 2 quarter hits to wall ride.

Not even the frigid wind whipping through the crowd could diminish spirits and as practice run progressed, riders found their flow.  Spurred on by onlookers both amateur and pro riders pushed the size and difficulty of tricks to the next level as they battled it out for the $6000 prize pool.

As you look through crowd everybody’s eyes are glued to the sky and focused on the action unfolding. The event is a visual spectacular which appeals to all. It really doesn’t take too much of an understanding of biking to know that someone meters in the air, upside down with a bike spinning around them is both insanely skillful, but requires nerves of steel.

Local man of all things biking Connor Macfarlane, finally managed to nab the win after three years of trying. Along with the bragging rights he also secured the bootie of $1300, in the event sponsored by one of his key sponsors Mons Royale – the local Wanaka merino clothing brand. He narrowly edged out young Wanaka rider Elmo Cotter by two points as the two battled it out for the entire evening.

Veolia water added to the prize pool this year donating $2000 with $1000 going directly to the winner off the best trick comp. Judged on a separate jam session off the ‘money booter’. Unlike the main event, best trick was open to both mtb and bmx riders, much to the delight of Paul Langland who walked away with a crisp $1000 after wowing the crowd and judges landing his first ever front flip tail whip in competition.

With Teva now off the scene as the major sponsor and funder of the event, let’s all hope that Queenstown Bike Festival finds someone else as committed to slopestyle to provide the funding necessary to keep an event like this ticking.

I’m already looking forward to Bike fest 2015.

Queenstown Bike Festival - Vertigo Bikes Dirtmasters Downhill

Posted by Dave Fahey: 16th Apr 2014 @ 18:00:10

Unfortunate timing this year saw the Vertigo Bikes Dirtmasters sandwiched between the two opening legs of World Cup riding resulting in a slightly diminished field in 2014. The starting line-up may have been without some of the bigger names we’ve been used to seeing, though it certainly didn’t show on the track, the team at Rowdy Roots were treated to an epic riding showdown.

This year’s course set by event manager Paul Haysom, brought together some real bike park classics to produce what many described as the best track to date. A class 5 start straight down World Cup saw riders clambering over loose rocks before dropping into a slick rooty section on Grundy. Riders then got an opportunity to open the taps headed down Unleaded Link and Thunder Goat and Battle Stag before cashing in the glory with a run down the Lonestar stairs to the awaiting crowd.

Overnight rain saw a greasier track than experienced in practice the previous day as riders battled for control in seeding runs on a misty Queenstown morning. As the track began to dry the crowd down at Rowdy Roots began to grow and at 2pm seeding places were reversed as a field of 48 riders began dropping in.

As riders drew closer to Grundy the noise began to grow and as they dropped over a rooty brow they were greeted by a crowd that exceeded the number of riders at the much hyped Rowdy Roots. With a melody of chainsaws, loud hailers, sirens, clanging bike frames and at times the chorus of ‘happy birthday’ from vocal cords lubricated with Speights and Diesel, the dedicated, work dodging Rowdy Roots crew kept riders on their toes.

While the hot seat at Brecon Street saw some through traffic timing was finalised and the winners of an equal prize money split thanks to Vertigo Bikes and Jowett Architects were announced.

The Open Women’s comp was nabbed by local favourite Harriet ‘Bob’ Latchem taking the win in 3:52.76, beating out more than half of the blokes. The king of the hill title however has to go to Wellington born rider Daniel Meilink’s with a mind-blowing time of 3:17.35 was more than four seconds faster than his seeding run.

Altogether another epic Queenstown Bike Festival event made possible by the team at Vertigo Bikes, and the dedicated crew of volunteers.

Let’s hope 2015 sees a slightly bigger field of riders and just as important a massive, rowdy crew down at the roots.

Next stop, Through the Lens @ The Find and Slopestyle practice.

Vertigo Bikes Super D Enduro 2014

Posted by Dave Fahey: 13th Apr 2014 @ 09:04:02

At 8am cars loaded with bike start rolling into the Queenstown camp ground in order to secure prime pit position for the 2014 Vertigo Bikes Super D Enduro. Tents are up, coffees in hand and not even the brisk southerly wind whipping through, nor the early morning drizzle can dampen the spirits of these riders.

As more than 150 riders sift on in an energy begins to generate as the anticipation of what lies ahead begins to build. What will the track look like? How punishing will the climbs be? How has last night’s rain effected the track? What funky little surprises have track master minds Jarna MacKenzie and event organizer Jimmie Carling got in store for us this year.

The Super D for those who don’t know is the opening event for the 2014 Queenstown Bike Festival and New Zealand’s only gondola assisted Super D event. Competitors battle it out solo or in teams of up to three over 6 gruelling hours. Beginning in the Queenstown camp ground, competitors sprint along the return track to the Gondola base building providing a chance to rest weary legs on the lift up. From here it’s a mixture of downhill and short pinchy climbs, bike park classics and original hand cut links, gravity inspired smiles and lung burning pain while searching for the constant balance between speed and control. It’s all about getting in as many full laps as you can with the six hour time frame.

After early morning rain the first of the riders skidded into pit lane splatted in porridgy thick mud as stories of freshly cut links, off camber root sections and a course unanimously described as ‘epic’ quickly filtered amongst riders. As the day wore on the track wore in, dried out and lines evolved requiring constant re-evaluation of the fastest lines.

In my opinion the greatest thing about this event are the people. Every year it strikes the balance between fiercely fought battles, and an amazingly laid back vibe. Everyone in the Gondola is there to have a yarn, compare lines, share battle stories and make plans on where to ride tomorrow. While on the track there is a common courtesy shared by all as riders, allow passing at the first available spot always with mutual words of encouragement shared.

As someone who has ridden the event for the last few years, I have to take my hat off to this year’s event crew. Track builders Jarna and Jimmy outdid themselves with the best track to date, with some amazingly varied terrain and riding styles, cheeky new links and not too many lung busting climbs. MC James Clarke kept the crowd entertained with his constant ‘chat’ and questionable music choice. Cheers to the team at Vertigo Bikes for shelling out the coin needed to bring an event like this together, and keeping everyone geared up with some great prizes at the Surreal after party. And great to see Bike Fest sorting out the timing woes of the past with a flawless system for 2014.

If the 2014 Queenstown Mountain Bike Festival maintains the high standard laid down by the opening event we are in for one hell of an amazing week, and after skiving off work for the week I’ll be out there riding bikes, sampling ales and hanging out with some mighty fine folk in paradise.

Off to prepare for the 16 inch Pub World champs @ The Find – see ya there.

QUEENSTOWN SNOW SEASON 2014 - Bigger and better all round!

Posted by Dave Fahey: 1st Apr 2014 @ 20:11:48

The skis have been tucked away for some time, and the bike has been king, but high on a hill above dirt is being turned. For most of us the 2013 ski season is a distant dream, left reminiscing great turns had and envisioning deep powder runs to come. All the while a crew of hardworking boys and girls have been slaving away turning dreams into reality in preparation for the 2014 ski season.

It’s no secret that I love to ski & by this time of year I have usually trudged around the house in ski boots during the all-important dress rehearsal. The ski movies have been hauled out of the cupboard and anticipation is building. This year is more exciting than most as it’s been quite some time since I have seen such extensive work put in by all four mountains in order to improve facilities for the benefit of the locals, seasoned winter returners and beginners alike.

Below is a brief run down on what can be expected when piling out of the ski wagon bright and early opening day of the 2014 season.


The Remarkables

While all four local resorts are going through vast improvements, it’s fair to say The Remarkables takes the cake for 2014. The most notable being the brand spanking new six-seater Curvey Basin lift. Not only will it be fast, comfortable, and increase capacity, but a whole new ridge, basin and face will be open where only the dedicated hiker has ventured before. Along with this The Remarkables will deliver on new trails for all ability levels, with snow making to ensure constant delivery of the white gold.

With so many earthworks around the base area they have also taken the opportunity to play in the big boys toys a little more and expanded the already capable learner’s area and increased and improved car parking meaning shorter walks in those clunky ski boots.

And now for the pièce de résistance, while making the skiable area bigger, badder and bolder they have topped it off by taking away 4km of bone shaking ruts, with the first stage of sealing the access road announced.

Coronet Peak

At Coronet peak it all about what goes on amongst the hours of darkness, or this year the not so dark. Coronet has just announced that Night Skiing at the peak is about to be bigger and better than ever before with double the amount of terrain under lights and new night freestyle features. 

Work has already begun to install 80 new lights on the mountain, which will add over 4km of new trails accessible by light on Friday and Saturday nights. Along with this addition a new ‘Park after Dark’ freestyle run with boxes, rails and a giant airbag will cater to skiers and riders who like to hit the terrain parks. 

Cardrona

Earthworks are currently underway in Cardrona Parks to develop a new intermediate freestyle ski and snowboard terrain park for the upcoming 2014 winter season. The new park will give Cardrona Alpine Resort a total of four terrain parks and will include a ‘triple jump line’, with jumps ranging from 16ft (5m) to 32ft (10m) in length from lip to knuckle.

The new park also introduces some intermediate lines, bridging the gap between the baby park and advanced lines. This will allow faster development for guests and athletes alike. Well played Cardrona!

Treble Cone

At Treble Cone it’s all about usability. TC is undergoing massive earthworks to allow users an easier way of returning from saddle basin via a newly aligned, longer, wider High Street Trail also featuring a gentler gradient.

Following the popularity of the Jazz Kids Fun Trail which was introduced to the Home Basin in 2013, Treble Cone is extending the Jazz Kids Fun Trail even further for 2014, adding more mini rollers and small kid’s jumps to make the experience longer and even more of a highlight for children.

Treble Cone has also invested in some new toys in the form of 2 brand new state-of-the-art, big shiny red Pisten Bully 400 grooming machines. This will allow their night owls to cover more of Treble Cone’s terrain and lay perfect corduroy nightly on the ski areas beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, producing a greater on-piste experience for guests.


So as long as the sun tucks itself away, the temperature plummets and the gently flutter of big juicy snowflakes arrives we are all in for a treat. I imagine no matter whether you were a local born with skis on your feet or returning for your annual ski pilgrimage the 2014 snow season is set to deliver. Without a doubt I will take the tour of all four of my home mountains and experience all the new goodies & I can’t wait to see you all out there – let the snow dance begin!

  • Eriks Fish and Chips [12 months free from 19.01.16]
  • Pub On Wharf