It’s all downhill from here in the best possible way for New Zealand mountain bike star, Brook MacDonald.
The 27-year-old leads the Kiwi contingent into the opening round for downhill riders in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Slovenia this weekend, coming off the back of his first national championship victory in six years and a stunning effort to win Crankworx downhill in Rotorua.
MacDonald, from Hawkes Bay, will begin his 10th year on the World Cup circuit that sparked from his victory in the junior category at the 2009 world championships in Canberra.
Confidence is the key for MacDonald, who enjoyed an excellent 2018 season where he finished sixth overall with two podiums and five of seven events inside the top-11.
“2018 was a great year for me and I definitely have high expectations going into the 2019 World Cups. Finishing sixth overall last year, I want to better that which is my goal this year,” said MacDonald.
“Confidence is maybe 90 per cent of racing. The other 10 per cent would be your skill and fitness. Confidence is the biggest key in any sport. Once you have a good result it only leads on to bigger and better things.”
For MacDonald that confidence boost came with his move last year back to an old team, MS Mondraker and also his close involvement in the development of the bike.
“Going back to MS Mondraker felt like I fitted in comfortably. The people around me are really good and it feels like I am back at home.
“I have an involvement big time in the development of our bikes. We are happy where we are at now with our bikes but the in-house guys are always keen to develop and make it better,” hinting at a potential new machine before year’s end.
The Kiwi racer is one of the most exciting on the circuit, but the conundrum is pushing to find your limits at unforgiving speeds when getting it wrong by the slightest amount, takes you out of contention.
“The perfect season for me would be to be consistent and try to perfect my race runs which is not easy to do in our sport.
“The other thing is you can’t hold back. You can’t be conservative and it is a fine line. The young kids coming up these days they are so good to watch because they are on the edge. That is how racing should be – on the edge, going for the win. If it works out, then it works out. If it doesn’t there are consequences.”
While he exudes a happy-go-lucky approach, inside is a fiercely competitive spirit. “Winning drives and excites me. As with most people who race at the top level, they are in it to win. Travelling the world riding my bike and enjoying it is also huge. It is an honour to be racing for my country at a world champs and for my team through the year. Considering we come from such a small country it is pretty amazing.
“A perfect 2019 would be to start the season off strongly like I did last year, qualifying first and trying to win a World Cup race and see where it takes me from there.”
MacDonald has a new start point in Maribor, Slovenia which returns to the World Cup for the first time since 2010. The track is 2.6kms with a 450m drop.