By CASS MARRETT
One of last weekend’s Crankworx mountain biking pros in Queenstown has the rare honour of being a ‘‘proper’’ local.
Casey Brown, 31, has called British Columbia, Canada, home for the past 20 years, but was born at Frankton’s Lakes District Hospital.
‘‘We didn’t actually live in Queenstown, we just came in for medical stuff because we lived on the West Coast, just south of Jackson Bay.
‘‘Then we moved inland, when I was a kid, to Clyde.’’
Her mother and sister still live there on a ‘‘hobby farm’’, farming merino sheep.
‘‘And mostly rabbits, actually this year, because there’s so many of them,’’ she laughs.
Last Friday, Brown competed in the Crankworx Summer Series New Zealand female pro pump track event — livestreamed to a global audience by Crankworx — at the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club’s new Kerry Drive site — finishing eighth, and she finished third in Saturday’s downhill, at Skyline’s Queenstown Bike Park.
The weekend prior, she came second at the Alexandra Super D female pro event behind Queenstown-based Louise Ferguson, who coincidentally also won Saturday’s DH.
The Crankworx veteran debuted at the event in 2005, at the tender age of 16, when it was based in Whistler, Canada, before it exploded on to the world stage.
She was crowned Crankworx Queen in 2012 and ’14, and has become a champion for women in mountain biking.
‘‘I’m just so stoked that there’s so many girls riding bikes now and shredding, like, just as good as the guys.’’
Her main passion’s freeriding — where riders carve their own trails and build jumps down a mountain — but it’s been anything but a free ride to get where she is.
‘‘The biggest challenge at the beginning of my career was getting support, like, they didn’t really support female freeriders.
‘‘So I became a racer for years and years until I built my name up big enough that I could move over to freeride which has always been my dream since I was a kid.’’
Despite several broken bones, a lot of tissue damage and a split liver, Brown’s still in love with her sport.
‘‘Basically it’s an expression, like an art, so I think that’s what keeps me coming back.
‘‘Also being able to get more people outdoors and experiencing nature, because I think that’s super healing and that’s what the world needs right now.’’
Brown’s competing in the Cardrona Air Downhill event today, and finishes the Crankworx Summer series at the Wanaka Dual Slalom this weekend at Bike Glendhu.