Downhill daredevil’s cash drive

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A Queenstown downhill mountain biking champion is chasing funding to help her bid for world cup podium finishes this year.

Alanna Columb, 26, won her first national title and second national series this summer, just three years after taking up the sport.

Undeterred by breaking an ankle and wrist at last month’s Crankworx Rotorua, she leaves in June for a four-month world cup campaign in Europe and North America.

“I’ll be a bit slower off the mark as opposed to starting off fast and furious, but I definitely want a taste of the podium this year.”

In his first overseas campaign, in 2013, her best result was 13th.

“Everything was so new I basically shat myself, it was so full-on.”

Columb only contested two world cup races last year so this year’s campaign will be her biggest yet.

“This year, top-fives are definitely not out of the question.”

Funding will boost a campaign that will cost about $45,000.

Her competitors, she says, have their bikes stripped down after every race, new tyres every run, and masseuses to look after them.

“It’s pretty difficult to try and be at their level with nothing.

“I don’t have anyone training me, I don’t have the best equipment, so if I can get a nice amount of money, we can give it a good shot.

“That is why it was a bit of a shame not doing well at Crankworx because Crankworx is good money and profile.”

Ideally Columb says she’d fly a mechanic over for her last four rounds.

She’s hugely indebted to her parents Marilyn and Denis Columb, whose quad and dirt bike tour company she guides for, but says they can’t keep bailing her out.

As a result she’s planning a fundraising auction late next month.

Ironically, it was money, or rather the lack of it, that caused her to change sports.

She grew up motorbike riding - her brother Scott is a top motocross rider - but says there was no motivation to aim high.

“Everyone would be like, ‘that’s OK but you make no money as a girl’.”

Columb says she was living at the bottom of the gondola-accessed Queenstown Bike Park.

“I just looked at it one day and thought, that would be cool.

“I’ve alway had a dream to be riding two wheels and to be at the top level.

“It’s a lot easier to travel overseas with a pushbike than a motorbike, and to go into a sport like this at 23 - you can’t go back to motocross at 23.”

Columb says she’s very happy with how far she’s come, “but I don’t think I’ll be super-satisfied till I’m world champ.

“It’s something I’d like to achieve before I’m 30.”

scoop@scene.co.nz