In what was an unprecedented decision for a New Zealand national series mountain bike event, Mountain Bike New Zealand (MTBNZ) had to make the difficult call to cancel the third downhill round of the downhill series in Rotorua this weekend.
Forecast gale force winds on top of the torrential rain overnight rendered the forest unsafe, and neither MTBNZ nor event hosts the Rotorua MTB Club felt competitors' (or anyone elses') safety could be managed at an acceptable level.
MTBNZ Event Coordinator Chris Mildon made the final call after assessing the site and the likely weather storm still to hit today.
"I know that racing in these conditions is a heap of fun and in many ways safer with slippery mud completely washed from racing lines," said Mildon. "We could still have managed rider uplift and all the other functions needed to run the event, but with the real risk of trees coming down today no one from the event management side of this event was prepared to put riders, marshalls or spectators under those trees."
"It's an unwelcome first for MTBNZ to make this call but it's been taken with everybody's safety as a priority concern."
Forecast bad weather all week has been on everyone's minds, with the severity of Sunday's forecast not really firming up until early in the weekend. But the wind factor proved to be the clincher.
The New Zealand Downhill Mountain Bike Cup resumes with round four in Nelson on February 5-6. Cross country competitors return to the New Zealand Cup in Nelson the weekend after on February 13 for their round three, which is also a UCI Category 2 event.