This weekend sees the 'unofficial Youth World Champs' at Kona's Rookie Games
One week before the pros take to the dirt during the Downhill World Cup in Canada, it will be time for the young guns of the sport to shine during the “Kona Rookies Games” at the MTB-Festival Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. Hundreds of young racers will be looking for the tightest lines and fastest times during the “Specialized Rookies Cup” and the unofficial youth World Champs “iXS International Rookies Championships”.
The races will be streamed LIVE here.
Everyone who pays attention to the sport know the names of the racing greats such as Greg Minnaar, Laurie Greenland, Myriam Nicole, Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave. However, even these mountain biking superstars started out small somewhere. The latest examples, Valentina Höll, Mille Johnset and Paula Zibasa, who all dropped into the races at Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in the past, prove that the leap from events such as these to the World Cup stops of the pros is possible. Practice makes perfect!
“Weeks before this event happens we are already hitting each other up on Instagram to see who is coming to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. It’s always great to meet new riders and have a great time here.”
Vali Höll (AUT), iXS International Rookies Champion U17 Female 2017
The three Tyrolean villages will be looking forward to plenty of stoke and steezy riding on the Downhill track at the beginning of August. Hundreds of kids will be streaming to the bottom of the Waldbahn lift in the bike park to be brought up to the start at 1,800m / 5,905ft a.s.l. More than 200 young rippers from over 20 different countries have already signed up for the races on August 4 and 5. In pursuit of the fastest splits, the rookies will have to master the gnarly 1,480m / 4,855ft long track with its off-camber sections, rock gardens, jumps and plenty of roots along the way. “I think a good DH track should challenge the riders. You need to have good riding technique if you want to put down a good time here. The track asks a lot from the young riders, but also gives them a great opportunity to gain experience for future races,” explains Bikepark Manager Christian Zangerl.
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis prides itself on creating the best conditions for families and young riders, and in these few days the young shredders are truly in the spotlight. Amongst those riding this year are names such as Gabriel Wibmer (AUT), Nuno Zuzarte Reis (POR), Jackson Goldstone (CAN), Johann Schumacher (GER), Henri Kiefer (GER), Anastasia Thiele (GER) and Beani Thies (RSA). “I think it is great that it’s all about the kids. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis does a remarkable job of making the kids feel like they are the “pros” and tries to give them the same experience. Live webcasts, a good timing system, a difficult track and an international field all lead to that World Cup feel. I admit I was skeptical about the “iXS International Rookies Championship” title beforehand, but after what I saw last year, I would say it’s legit,” says Ron Goldstone, who is already looking forward to seeing his son Jackson send it through the bike park once again.
“It’s so cool! We do not have anything like this at home, because we cannot race until the age of 16. Seeing all the kids shredding is just sick and meeting everyone just great.”
Nuno Zuzarte Reis (POR), iXS International Rookies Champion U15 Male 2017
Even though the races are the highlight of the “Kona Rookie Games”, the MTB-Festival is about more than just results. “The focus is entirely on having fun on the bikes. It is a great opportunity for families to experience racing in a relaxed atmosphere and to meet others with the same passion,” Zangerl explains. The week kicks off with a Rookie Camp, which was fully booked in a matter of days, and all the racers can look forward to great side events as well. The welcome day on Thursday, August 2, features a Pumptrack Fun Session and “Warm-Up Pastaparty” from 5pm, right after the first track walk.
“It’s just fun! You get to meet the other riders and do cool things with them. There is a lot going on outside of riding as well. I am already looking forward to riding the mountain coaster again.”
Jackson Goldstone (CAN), Winner “Specialized Rookies Cup” U15 Male 2017
Additionally, the grown-ups can get involved after the first training and seeding runs on Friday during the Family Challenge. Dads, mums, aunts and uncles pair up with their sons, daughters, nephews and nieces to race in a team. Each team drops in as pairs and the final time at the bottom is taken when the rear rider crosses the finish line. The fastest pair down the track wins. On both Friday and Saturday evening a Slopestyle Show by “Masters of Dirt” and the Ö3 After-Race-Party on Saturday evening will keep those fun weekend vibes going.