The Australian Institute of Sport Canberra and surrounding hills were a hive of activity as 40 interstate junior mountain bikers were tested and coached to become holistically stronger athletes from October 19-21. The juniors came to improve their cycling talent physically, tactically, technically and excelled working together as a team at the third National Skills Development camp.
Riders across five states and two territories proudly represented their local clubs including Red Hill Riders, Canberra Off Road Cyclists, Darwin Off Road Cyclists, Brisbane MTBC, Noosa Trail Blazers, Western Sydney MTBC, Dirt Riders and Central Australian Rough Riders.
Fresh off the podium from the Queensland State Championships, Dean Madden (Brisbane South Mountain Bike Club) and Jonathan Noble (Noosa Trailblazers Mountain Bike Club) were keen to learn as much from the coaches and through the skills sessions. Each rider completed a number of skill based activities as well as presentations on hydration, and sports science. Expert mountain bike Australia (MTBA) coaches applied verbal feedback and diagnostic assessment at the AIS facilities.
U17 Manager Greg Meyland said, "The camp gives me the initial head start to my objectives before the national season commences. I have had the opportunity to communicate and understand where our riders are at, and what steps they they will endeavour to take to reach their highest potential."
U17 cross country National Series Champion for 2011, Hamish Prosser's aim in his third camp was to focus on "what I have to do to see how I can improve in 2013".
Downhill Manager and former pro racer Jared Rando said, "This camp is a fantastic initiative by MTBA's EDP. It gives young athletes from both downhill and cross country a taste of what lays ahead of them as a future representative of Australian Mountain Biking. In many ways, it's the first step to becoming a professional racer and learning what it will take to get there. It's a unique opportunity for the young racers of Australia, backed by a solid philosophy in what it takes to develop our young athletes."
Rando also welcomed testing across the disciplines of four cross, cross country and downhill. "There are lots to be learnt from each other." The athletes were delighted to have Rando's calibre available after his team's 2012 performances including world championship's bronze medalists Danielle Beecroft (junior women's downhill) and Connor Fearon (junior men's downhill). The elite men's downhill team established Australia as number 1 nation while the junior men's downhill team helped Australia to a second-placed ranking.
The athletes learnt how important it is to focus on a dynamic warm-up. "it's recommended to integrate small session of strength and core stability even before you get onto the bike at least three times a week," said MTBA’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Signor.
Experienced NTID coach Tim Ellison with the National Sporting Director structured the camp sessions to the finest of detail to build on fundamental skills to enable Australian athletes to compete with the best.
"You need to become physically, technically and then tactically strong," said Ellison, who stressed that "success also comes from training as one team moving forward, to perform as a World class rider you also have to be a team player and contribute with your excellent individual characteristics".