You could be mistaken for thinking that individual athletes should see their fellow competitors as just that, competitors. But the team at Future Ground and mentor Sean Thompson sees it as the complete opposite. To get better and progress, you need to help each other.
“There is more than one step on the podium and there is heaps of room in the sport,” says Sean. “Just imagine if you all become top ten in the world by helping push each other up instead of individually being in the top 40. Just chase it and help each other get there, because you can all elevate together. You are embarking on a new period of time in the mountain bike world and you have the opportunity to be leaders and pave a new way. And it’s hard to lead the charge and find your way to the top, so wouldn’t it be better to do it together? It would definitely be more fun.”
Over the past four days we have seen the group come together and really enjoy teaching and learning from one another. Tricks they didn’t think possible on Monday are becoming a reality as they each strive for progression.
Ellie Chew who rides for Nitro Circus and has competed on the FISE World Series, Vans BMX Pro Cup series, Urban World Games and Ridden Demos at Xgames all on BMX, is getting dialled this week on her mountain bike. Consistently landing backflips into the bag at Site Trampoline and at Wynyard onto the bag and mulch pit. She has emerged as a person the other riders looked to for advice and was happy to share her knowledge. “I’ve experienced the progression pit with BMX riding and how to break down tricks to build them back up. But it’s cool sharing it with these girls as they are at the beginning of their journey learning tricks and it doesn’t always happen straight away. You can’t be just like, ‘I wanna do this trick’, and it just happens. Some tricks will work for you straight away and some won’t. Even if it might for someone else.
“It’s awesome being in New Zealand and so many girls doing it here. It helps we can all work together and push each other to get better.”
That sense of community has been building and it really shows that given the opportunity to all meet and ride together has helped everyone to progress.
Track and road cyclist Kelsey Timpany, who turned to mountain biking in 2017 and hasn’t looked back, has a fresh and inspiring take on her reason “why”. “We are just in the right environment, which is insane. I guess it is uncommon at the moment to have this sort of environment in our sport. So, everyone is relishing what we have got.
“What I do with Pivot now is to create an awareness and space for girls on the cusp of taking that next step and doing it in a safe environment. That’s what I am here to do, to show other girls that if I am here, then they can do it as well. I’m just an average Joe [Kelsey is not at all!] and I don’t have that much bike experience. This is all pretty new to me. It’s been awesome to push myself and prove to myself and others that this sort of stuff is achievable.”
Queenstown local shredder and Instagram edit mistress, Emma Olofsson is sore but stoked,
“I don’t think that we girls get together enough, but it is kinda hard because half of us probably live in Queenstown and the rest in the North Island and around the country. And there is just so many guys compared to girls riding, so you end up riding with guys. And don’t get me wrong, they help you and push you but it’s different when you are with girls. I feel like when you see a girl doing it, you are like, “yeah I can do that”. I mean guys have naturally more muscle, so when we see them doing tricks, it’s easy to think I can’t do that. But here we are learning we can by watching each other and building a community. Everyone has been pushing their limits for sure.”
So, as we think back to our original question – For progression to start and then thrive for female freeriding, is it about opportunity or environment? Or both? I think we have all agreed it’s both. Given the opportunity these ten riders have proved that a jump in progression can be made with the right environment of likeminded individuals, all becoming somewhat of a team of leaders in their sport. Given the right tools, some inspiring coaching and fostering that energy, has helped all the riders and the Future Ground team as a whole feel the stoke and push themselves outside their own limits whether it be on the bike or not.