Professional mountain biker Casey Brown was back on familiar territory at the weekend as the inaugural Crankworx Summer Series started in Alexandra.
The 31-year-old Canadian-Kiwi placed second in the women’s professional Super D – a mix of downhill and cross-country racing packaged together into one short ride held on the first day of the competition.
She posted a total time of 13min 21sec, behind first-placed Louise Ferguson, of Scotland but based in Queenstown, in 13min 13sec.
Jenna Hastings came in third for a podium finish in 13min and 26sec.
For Brown, the series marks a return to her roots.
Born in Queenstown, Brown shifted around the country with her family – the West Coast, Clyde and Hawea – before they moved to Revelstoke in British Columbia, Canada, in 2002 when she was 11.
It was in Canada she took up mountain biking.
Something about the sport just clicked, she said.
“In 2012 I was back here in Central Otago and Queenstown in what was the first time in a long time.”
That was the chance to scope out mountain biking here, Brown said.
Since that visit she has been back to New Zealand regularly to watch the sport grow, particularly in Central Otago.
In between times, she has been making a name for herself on the women’s pro circuit.
While modest about her achievements, Brown’s pedigree in the sport is impressive. She has taken part in the world cup and the Enduro World Series and has been been a regular on the Crankworx World Tour crowned the Queen of Crankworx twice.
To see the sport take off in the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts was heartening, she said.
“It’s pretty incredible being back in Alexandra. It’s changed so much in terms of mountain biking.
“I have seen it before where you have these towns, like Alexandra, that are just farming towns and then mountain biking takes off and really changes the place.”
Matangi Station MTB, which officially opened yesterday, hosted the competition and was “world-class”, she said.
While the Crankworx Summer Series allowed her to continue riding as the Canadian winter took hold, it also saved her from sports she “sucked at” such as surfing.
“It is very humbling to go into a different sport and not be very good at it. It’s a great leveller.”