By PHILIP CHANDLER
A top freeride mountain biker’s peddling Queenstown as the world’s best destination for his sport.
Australian-raised 22-year-old Remy Morton — currently starring in Destination Queenstown’s ‘Flatten The Hill’ campaign — moved to the resort six summers ago and, between European campaigns, has been based here ever since.
‘‘To me, it’s the best, and that’s why I decided I want to live here.
‘‘I think it’s the best, strongest community I’ve seen in mountain biking.
‘‘A lot of people are super-passionate about it.
‘‘Everyone here’s kind of working to make it better, constantly, whereas other towns are just happy with what they’ve got.’’
A trail builder who works for Elevate Trail Building, when he’s not competing, he also raves about Queenstown’s myriad mountain bike tracks.
‘‘You can do so many disciplines in one day.’’
A highlight for Morton this year was picking up Red Bull sponsorship — he was presented his helmet by renowned Kiwi rider Brook MacDonald at the conclusion of Crankworx Rotorua.
‘‘Today one of my biggest dreams ever became a reality,’’ he wrote.
The fact he’s even riding these days is almost a miracle after he was nearly killed in a
crash in Belgium in 2017.
In his first international jump event, LooseFest, he overshot a jump and fell about 100 metres to the ground.
His injuries included a broken neck, broken and dislocated hip and double-punctured lungs, and he was in a coma for almost a month.
‘‘I was asleep in a coma for the worst part of it, so that kind of wiped out any fear I had in getting back to it.
‘‘I kind of woke up and I was already semi-healed and on my way.
‘‘Four months after the accident, I was living back in Queenstown and back into the biking scene.’’
Amazingly, he returned to LooseFest last year and won — ‘‘I had to get it off my
‘‘That’s the world’s biggest jump event and I won ‘best rider’, and especially after my accident, that meant a lot to me.’’
As a newly-minted Red Bull athlete, Morton had intended competing in Europe and North America this year till Covid-19 shut down international borders.
Though that’s a regret, he says it’s also fast-tracked opportunities for him in Queenstown.
‘‘I’ve made a lot of connections I’ve really wanted to try and make in the last few
years, so that’s been great.’’
As a result, he’s hoping more events will be added to the calendar to further cement the resort’s standing in the mountain biking world.