A taste of what spectators can expect to see, as a fearless competitor takes to the slopes in last year's Skyline Sprint Warrior. A taste of what spectators can expect to see, as a fearless competitor takes to the slopes in last year's Skyline Sprint Warrior. CREDIT: Skyline Sprint Warrior

Get amongst the Sprint Warrior sideline action

Monday 10 February 2014, 4:11PM
By Madeleine Moore


Those coming to experience the 2014 Skyline Sprint Warrior event from the sidelines will be as much a part of the thrilling race-day action as the riders themselves.

The down-hill event at Skyline Rotorua’s Mt Ngongotaha site will be held on February 21. The event is part of the second Rotorua Bike Festival which runs from February 14 to 23 and entries for the race sold out months ago. However, this year has seen the inclusion of a practice day on February 20 and limited places are still available – for now.

The Skyline Sprint Warrior event is owned and organised by brothers Tak and Tu Mutu of Mountain Bike Rotorua and Multi-Day Adventures, and is run in conjunction with Skyline Rotorua.

Tak Mutu says the Skyline Sprint Warrior will be an event offering thrills for everyone, not just riders.

“This year’s Sprint Warrior entries sold like hotcakes. There are a number of Kiwi international riders in the mix – including last year’s winner, Wyn Masters – and we’re also expecting more international riders closer to race-day. The level of talent is exceptional and watching them in action will appeal to everyone, even non-mountain bikers.

“Last year proved a huge hit for everyone involved and we would love to see even more people come and experience this unique event. We’re really ramping things up from last year, with Empire of Dirt coming on again as master trail builders and making improvements to the existing trail.”

Mountain-side entertainment on race day includes a DJ, who will be “spinning up” throughout the day, as well as $10 spectator gondola passes, luge specials, Sprint Warrior meal deals at the Market Kitchen Café, as well as music from local band Strangely Arousing who will be playing at race prizegiving.

Skyline Rotorua general manager Bruce Thomasen says Skyline is looking forward to being part of the Rotorua Bike Festival again.

“The Skyline Sprint Warrior was a real hit last year and we are looking forward to bringing mountain biking back to Mt Ngongotaha for the second year in a row.

“It is fantastic to be able to participate in the bike festival, which is a real celebration of all things distinctively Rotorua. The fact we can offer such a unique site as part of that is an exciting opportunity – not just for riders, but for spectators as well.”

The Mt Ngongotaha site offers the only gondola-accessed mountain bike trails in the North Island, and the Sprint Warrior event is the only opportunity for riders to access the trails. The site hosted the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, with last year’s Sprint Warrior race the first time since 2006 that riders had been able to descend the mountain.

“The fact competitors have to catch a gondola to access the track sets the event apart from any other downhill race. Now with the practice day as part of the event as well, even more people have the opportunity to experience these unique trails,” Mr Thomasen says.

The Skyline Sprint Warrior features a purpose-built 1.8km downhill trail, with one extra trail also available to riders on the practice day. Racing will be rounded out by a new jump and ‘sick trick’ competition.

Spectators will have free access to the finish line, as well as the option to purchase a discounted gondola pass to ascend the hill for viewing spots of the action as it happens. There will be no charge for Skyline annual pass holders.

Race-day practice will begin at 12pm, with the real action beginning between 3pm and 4pm.