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Speed demon: Wyn Masters at last year's national downhill series race at Coronet Peak. PICTURE: JAKE HOOD

By MATTHEW MCKEW

New Zealand’s best mountain bike riders are in Queenstown this weekend to battle it out for honours in two different championships.

Tomorrow, Coronet Peak’s hosting the South Island cross country champs, before it hosts the national downhill champs on Sunday.

In the cross country, riders start from the ski area’s base building and climb about 200m before a single track descent, totalling about 4.5km for a full lap, which riders will aim to complete in 20 to 25 minutes.

The number of laps they have to complete depends on age and category, with the under-23 and elite males having to complete five laps and the women four.

Ski area manager Nigel Kerr says it’s a ‘‘real privilege’’ to host the championships, as well as the fourth round of the national downhill series on Sunday.

‘‘Events like these really help solidify Queenstown’s reputation as an epic mountain biking destination.

‘‘Some of the best riders from around the country will be competing, so it’s a great chance to watch some impressive biking up at Coronet Peak over the weekend.

‘‘[It’ll] be great to see the community there supporting our local riders too.’’

Tomorrow the juniors, seniors and masters start at 10am and the rest begin at 12.30pm.

As far as the downhill champs go, Mountain Biking New Zealand says many pros consider Coronet Peak’s downhill course ‘‘the best track in the world’’, with a ‘‘perfect mixture
of jumps, steeps, berms and high-speed tracks’’.

‘‘The race is the epitome of tech-flow, all built on some of the best dirt in the region.

‘‘This makes for very tight, exciting racing,’’ course papers say.

The downhill race proper starts at 2.20pm on Sunday — the track follows a 405m drop.

Each runshould last about three-and-a-half minutes.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz