Read full article on Pinkbike by Bruno Long
When I first met Casey Brown, she was around 14 or 15 years old. I remember her being quiet, polite and always keen to go ride her bike. However, there are two things I remember quite clearly about her at that age: One, she was already keeping up with most of the fastest guys on the local Revelstoke trails. Two, that in the summer, she only seemed to ever wear shoes while riding her bike. Growing up on a farm in New Zealand, shoes must have been an optional choice, and when she later moved to Canada, brought her free-heeling ways with her. Now, the recently crowned Canadian DH champion and Queen of Crankworx, has her feet firmly planted, barefoot or not, in the World Cup scene, where she placed 4th for her first WC podium in Norway. These results have given her a heap of momentum to end the season and motivate her into winter training, where she will focus her efforts on preparing for the full World Cup Circuit next year.
Casey out riding for fun before training starts again.
Catching the last bit of fall colors at home in Revelstoke.
I recently caught up with Casey for a few afternoons of shooting, while also discussing plans for next year, her view on the Women’s World Cup scene, her training regiment and why she feels younger now, at 21, than she did at 15. Here is my interview with Casey, which we conducted in the confines of her very sweet, retro GMC truck while doing a shuttle retrieval:
You mentioned to me yesterday that you feel younger today than you did when you were 14 or 15 years old? Can you elaborate on that thought?
When I was younger, I used to think that mountain biking was what people in their 20’s did, and I ended up hanging out with a lot of people in their early to mid-20’s. Most of my friends were in their 20’s or even 30’s, but now I’m almost 22 and on the race circuit with a lot of young people my own age. Mountain biking, it helps you to never grow up. We are just bigger kids, on bigger toys.
Were you surprised by your results at Crankworx and Nationals or did you feel as though you were on the cusp of breaking through, much like Canadian teammate Steve Smith, onto the podium?
A little bit of both. I had noticed that I was just riding quicker in general leading up to those races, but I still have a lot to work on with things like sprinting and pedaling, but I was definitely surprised by the results. I didn’t really expect to be on the top of the podium at Crankworx. My goals were to be on the podiums at all my events, but I didn’t think I would be in the top spot. It’s exciting because if I can do that well at those events with the skills I have now, over the winter I’m gonna be training and working on the skills that need improvement, then see what happens next year.
How do you think your addition to the Perform X Young Guns team has helped your progression this past season?
I think being with Perform X gave me more focus. Also, being in the gym and working out was a key factor in being able to handle all the race courses. Having a very difficult training routine helps make race day easier. I think Perform X is one of the best training programs out there, who also train motocross races as well. A focus on the mental, physical and nutritional sides of racing is all included in the Perform X program. Todd (Schumlick – owner and trainer at Perform X) has been really impressed with all of our training and I really think the program has a bright future.
Snuff came with us everywhere on both days. Not even the dust will stop her from chasing Casey around.
Riding with former Canadian DH champ Lorraine Blancher, who also calls Revelstoke home.
Does it bother you that the men’s circuit has a lot more eyes on it than the women? Does this motivate you to push harder and show that a girl can do a lot of the same things that the men racers do?
For sure! I would love to eventually get our times closer to the guys. The top women should be able to get into the top 30-40 men’s times at some point. That would be sick, don’t you think?
Getting back to your recent success, does it bother you that you haven’t been getting very much press or coverage? Does the lack of coverage motivate you for next season? (On a side note, I did this interview BEFORE this little edit came out: Every Day Girls by SAINT )
I think one of the reasons for the last World Cup race (in Norway), was that there wasn’t really much press there in the first place because it was so far for everyone to go. It didn’t quite have the same feel as other WC races. It’s tough though, trying to get the press and exposure you need. You don’t want to go pushing or asking for coverage, but maybe you shouldn’t have to when you place well or win. I think it’s probably good for me to not have the spotlight on me. It motivates me to try even harder for the upcoming season.
Styles for miles. Casey is becoming known for her style and amplitude.
Casey had a hand in building one of the new sections of this trail last fall. Enjoying the rewards of her (and others) hard work.
After working so hard this season, how did it feel to stand on the podium at a World Cup race with the likes of Rachel Atherton, Emmeline Ragot and Morgane Charre? How is the comraderie amongst the womem? Did they say anything to you about your result?
It was crazy! I didn’t even know what to think about it at the time. I couldn’t believe it at first, that I placed 4th in my second World Cup race. I was pretty blown away by it all. The girls were stoked for me. They were happy, I was happy. It was all good. Everyone is obviously competing, but they are also still friends. It’s awesome and I love it! It’s like a big family reunion at every World Cup.
You are planning on racing the full World Cup circuit next season. Do you think that focus, along with your podium results from this past season, will springboard you to the next level in your racing career?
Definitely. So much of racing is mental, it’s given me the confidence to think that I can actually do it and maybe be on top one day.
Getting to taste a few victories and podiums is helping you stay motivated? You are happy with your results, but not quite satisfied, right?
It’s crazy. Even sometimes, when you do win and you are on top of the podium, you still aren’t satisfied because maybe the run wasn’t perfect. And I think that’s why we all keep coming back, looking for that perfect run because that’s what we are and need to be…perfectionists.
As an avid fan of the World Cup circuit, I’ve noticed that you take some slightly different lines than some of the girls and even some of the guys. You seem to seek out the bigger jumps or gaps. Is this something you’ve always done or is it a result of your training and progression?
I think I’ve always been like that. That’s one of the things about racing, you can take it very serious and it is good to take it serious. But you also need to have a bit of fun with it too. At Leogang (World Championships), there was a jump right out of the start gate. It was probably faster to go around it, to go over the smaller line, but because it was the beginning of the run, I chose to hit it because I wanted to feel my bike and suspension right off the bat. The other thing about it, if you are just staying on the ground and not doing all the fun stuff, you might not get noticed by photographers, filmers or the press. It’s fun to jump and showoff a bit.
If you follow the World Cup circuit at all, you would have noticed a lot of Canadian girls hanging around the hot seat and the top ten this year. Do you think the Canadian women’s team has a bright future ahead of it?
Definitely, I think it’s just the beginning really. Now that we are getting in the top ten and noticed more, maybe a bit more support will come our way from sponsors because the women’s side of it is huge. There are so many good riders on the women’s side of racing. Young girls like Holly (Feniak) and others who are coming up and doing well will inspire another generation, and I think we are going to have some more solid racers in the future.
In many female sports, many women rely not only on their skills, but may also use their looks to gain sponsorship or notoriety. What do you think of this approach? Is it good/bad for the sport or do you think it even matters?
Well, I don’t think it’s bad at all. If you’ve got it, you might as well use it. I was just looking at a ski magazine and was reading about Sarah Burke. She was a great athlete, beautiful and helped progress her sport. The only downside of this approach might be that some women are objectified for their looks and not their skills.
What are your fall/winter plans?
Training starts this month. I’ll either go away to work and save money or stick around Revelstoke for awhile. Then New Zealand in January for some riding/training and then Southern California for some motocross training in the spring.
Anybody that you want to thank?
A big thanks to my family and friends for supporting me this past year. And of course my sponsors: Perform X, Commencal, Shimano, Fox Racing Shox, Spank, Troy Lee Designs, Maxxis, The North Face, Oakley and Dissent.