by Kelsey Timpany
2021 has been about one thing: record-breaking progression.
Crankworx Rotorua in early November marked the end of global competition for the 2021 season, and what a ride it has been.
The rise of women’s mountain biking on a global scale has been phenomenal over the course of 2021. The proof is in the pudding with results from women who have collectively raised the bar to push the sport to new heights. Among these women are Pivot riders Kalani Hines and young up-and-comer Jenna Hastings.
Surrounded by their female comrades, these ladies have celebrated wins and pushed the sport to incredible new heights, where the future is incredibly bright.
Jenna Hastings on her way to winning the Pro Womens Downhill at the age of 17. Photo: Jay French
Crankworx Speed and Style presented by Mons Royale highlighted this, where three competitors were nailing backflips in competition, compared to Innsbruck only three short months earlier, where Robin Goomes was the first female to successfully put down not one, but six backflips “just because she could.”
A few years ago events for specifically for female identifying riders such as Formation, Future Ground, Hang Time Dark Horse, now Audi Nines and Proving Grounds didn’t exist. Now, there is a group of female riders on the forefront of this women’s movement.
Most importantly, the industry is listening more than ever, enabling the progression in the sport to continue to rise. Women’s freeride is leading by example and setting the tone. It is nothing short of humbling to witness from the ground up.
Above: Vaea Verbeeck and Caroline Buchanan going head to head and showing that the bar is being constantly raised. Photo: Ben Brough
One of the best parts? We are a proud to be at the forefront of this movement with our Pivot female identifying riders, who are competing at various events around the world. Future Ground, in March 2021 was the first event to kick of 2021 in New Zealand.
Future Ground provided 10 other talented athletes with a platform to grow, progress and shred. One of the key learnings was from Sean Thompson, Snow Sports NZ Snowboard Coach who was on hand to chat about the action learning cycle, known as the ‘Progression Pit’. Acknowledging you are in the ‘Progression Pit’ where momentum can be lost. The key is flipping the switch to climb out.
The ‘Progression Pit’ can be likened to the progression of female riding within the mountain bike industry. It feels like it took a decade for the industry to climb out of ‘the pit’ where it has been stagnant for a while, yet the reality was it was bubbling at the surface, ready to project into the world.
The faces of Mons Royale Future Ground, New Zealand Photo: Paul Foley
This is exactly what happened at Future Ground, as demonstrated by Robin Goomes who not only flipped the switch, but made herstory with it. She, among other female shredders such as Casey Brown, Hannah Bergemann, Caroline Buchanan to name a few, have helped to put everything into place to create a positive outcome and outlet for future athletes.
We all love a bit of progression and a hearty success story. However with progression there is risk and it is not always linear. Pivot athlete Alex Showerman’s injury at Hannah Bergemann’s ‘Hang Time’ event that took her off the bike for a good few weeks.
Photo Cred: Emily Sierra
“Personally, while I crashed and broke my wrist. This event redefined what I am capable of as an athlete. Every single one of my fellow athletes inspired and pushed me to new heights, and I pushed through some massive mental barriers. I can’t wait to heal up and start working towards redemption.” – Alex Showermann
Finding the balance between progression and competitive performance is something that all action sports athletes grapple with. Alex’s trajectory, determination and ability to balance the risk vs reward will set her up for a long career and an even longer impact on the sport.
Pivot riders, Kialani Hines and Jenna Hastings on the podium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Clint Trahan
As the women’s division is continually pushed to new extremes, we will all have to find our own limits, speed and balance of progression. This no doubt will be more calculated than the early pioneers of male freeride (who notoriously launched themselves from every cliff, drop or jump in sight), thanks to lessons, learnings and mentorship that they are passing on. Events such as the Audi Nines proved the importance and value of combined-gender events in the overall progression of our sport – not only facilitating this mentorship, but encouraging it.
Our next step is to harness this energy and momentum and capitalize on it. These women are hungry for redemption, recognition and the opportunity to compete as equals with males.
The future is electric, we have the athletes, environment and depth, let’s see where we can take it in 2022.