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Making her mark: Queenstown's Jess Blewitt has leapt straight into international elite mountain biking ranks. THE PERFECT LINE

By GUY WILLIAMS

Queenstown downhill and enduro mountain bike ace Jess Blewitt is the sole woman in a 16-strong New Zealand team competing at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, over the next few days.

It’s a huge achievement for the former Wakatipu High School student — who’s just turned 19 — given she only took up the sport in 2018.

The national downhill elite champion goes into the world champs on the back of an out
standing eighth in the most recent race of her debut European season.

It’ll be broadcast live on Sky TV on Monday NZ time.

Blewitt, who’ll be back in the resort in mid-October, has leapt straight into the international elite ranks after her dream of competing in the junior ranks in Europe last year was dashed by Covid.

Mum Broni says her daughter’s in a ‘‘pretty good head space’’ leading into the weekend,
but has battled with injury and homesickness at times since leaving for the United States in
May.

However, her results have been outstanding, with a third and second respectively in two Enduro World Series races, as well as the eighth placing in the most recent of her three
world cup downhill races to date.

After the world champs she’ll contest another world cup event in Switzerland next month before jetting back to the US for the final two downhill races of the season and the Fox US Open in California.

She’s competing in Europe as a privateer this season, with crucial help from three sponsors, but her goal remains to impress enough to get signed with a team and turn pro, Broni says.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz