The NZ MTB Team had a great day at Stromlo yesterday, supporting the junior women in their XC races. The ladies all did really well and are rightly proud of their performances on a hot day on the dirt. Canberra produced a stunning spring day, but due to the exposure on Stromlo its a little like being in an alpine environment where keeping well hydrated and hats on etc is essential.
The energy in the NZ camp is great, demonstrated nicely by the U19 mens XC meeting last night where final race detail and feeding info for their morning race today was covered. The seven starters were physically relaxed and might have seemed like they were prepping for the next days training ride, until catching their eyes. There is a determination and fire in their eyes that is exactly what the coaches want to see, and come 10.30 race start absolutely required to perform out of their skins against the strength of the Euros. There's a ton of anticipation bubbling away with everyone who has had any involvement with this group of U19 athletes, and genuine excitement for this race.
Matt Foster is all set for his 20" Trials semi this morning, and more practice sessions run through the day for DH, 4X with an additional afternoon XC block of time. 4X qualifying also takes place this afternoon for Matt Walker and Eddie Masters. Word on the hill in the DH realm is that the kiwis are looking fast while practicing, Cam Cole especially impressing.
Tomorrow is another busy day for the kiwis. Tim Jurgens will be in action in the 26" Trials semi, the U23 XC Men race, the DH timed run happens in the afternoon, and the 4X race takes place under lights. There is amazing NZ support at the venue - loud, cheering K1W1's everywhere while the NZ athletes are doing the business, and vigourously socialising out of racing time. These supporters all remember how vocal the aussies were at the 2006 Rotorua Worlds during any Aus podium time, and will more than reciprocate in kind given the opportunity over the rest of the week.