Organisers of the inaugural Natural Selection Proving Grounds in Queenstown have been forced to pull the pin on this year’s event — planned for next month.
It’ll now be held in February, 2025, and will still include a ‘Dream Ticket’ event, giving up-and-coming locals the chance to gain an invite just before it kicks into high gear.
It doesn’t affect the first-ever World Mountain Bike Awards, though, being organised by prominent businessman Rod Drury, which are going ahead at Coronet Peak on February 15.
Queenstown-based Proving Grounds event director Sophie Luther says it’s disappointing to have to postpone this year’s event, but they’ve got no other option given delays in the processing of the resource consent application, lodged with Queenstown’s council in October.
The application states construction of the trails on TreeSpace-Mount Dewar, at Arthurs Point, will take about two months — it was planned for that to happen daily over December and January so two of the three trails would be ready for the 2024 edition, planned for February 12
Luther tells Mountain Scene, ideally, that work would have started on December 5.
However, the consent application’s still ‘‘in progress’’ with council staff.
‘‘I’ve been told there’s no risk or concern with it, planners are busy, there’s a big workload and they’re getting through the workload,’’ she says.
‘‘But even if they gave it to me today, I won’t be able to build a track in time.’’
Another factor was difficulty attracting the kind of sponsorship money required to pull off an event of this calibre in the current economic climate, she says.
She believes a lot of those funders were waiting for the outcome of last year’s general election to make decisions about making financial commitments to events like Proving Grounds and, given the delays in forming the government, ‘‘we found it hard to get as many big sponsors as we want over the line’’.
However, there is one major silver lining resulting from the postponement — they’ll now have time to build all three lines before the first event.
Elevate Trail Building will construct those this year, either in autumn or spring, leaving plenty of time for jumps to be tested, with the likelihood some local riders will also be invited up to suss it out first, Luther says.