The Entire World is a Family

- Maha Upanishad



Aug 04, 2014

India hosts 1st international downhill mountain biking competition

Held in July near Manali at the base of the Himalayas, the competition had 18 participants from across the country, Nepal, Britain and Italy taking on the bumpy, dirt trails for the top prize.


Anil Nair

Images Courtesy: Jigme Bodh and Vineet Sharma

Manali, July 1: India’s only downhill mountain biking competition was held in July at Solang, the race venue and a popular adventure sports spot near Manali.

Top Indian bikers Vinay Menon, Piyush Chavan and Ajay Padval, British rider James Frampton and the team from Nepal reported a week in advance to get used to the hilly terrain and monsoon conditions, says Vineet Sharma, of Himalayan Mountain Bike Network, the competition organiser.

“With mountain biking culture catching up  fast in India and only XC (cross country) races being organized so far, the team of Himalayan Mountain Bike Network decided to have a competition for downhill mountain bikers in India. The participants were highly impressed with the race venue and compared it to other bike parks around the world. Few of them even nicknamed it as a Mini-Whistler. The track was not completely sculpted purposely. Most features were natural and were well appreciated,” Mr Sharma told The Outdoor Journal.

Images Courtesy: Jigme Bodh and Vineet Sharma

Solang, the race venue and a popular adventure sports spot near Manali, was abuzz with activity on race day with curious local onlookers standing along the barricade watching riders zip past and spray dirt all over.

In the amateurs category, India’s Jeewan Jeet Singh Dhillon, an upcoming long distance rider, was the fastest by completing the 2Km run in 5 min and 19 sec followed by Akshay Chaudhary who took 6 min and 28 sec.

Gurman Reen came third with a timing of  7min and 45 sec.

In the expert category Piyush Chavan showed his dark side by completing the run in 4min and 42 seconds making him the fastest downhill mountain biker of India.

Mangal Krishna Lama from Nepal was few seconds behind him and took 4min and 49 seconds. Gautam Taode from India came third by clocking 4min and 53 sec while Piyush Chavan grabbed the Himachal Downhill Mountain Bike Trophy.

Images Courtesy: Jigme Bodh and Vineet Sharma

Trail marking in India for competitions has never been an easy task for the organisers and the Himalayan Mountain Bike Network team also had their share of bloopers with mountain cows removing some of them as they grazed on the slopes.

“The race was made possible with the help of  Woodland, Firefox Bikes, Ski Himalayas and Psynyde bicycle components and the support of  Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine, Big Rush, Havoc Wear, Gravity. The next Himachal Downhill Mountain Bike Trophy will be held in June 2015 during Himalayan Mountain Bike Festival (Manali),” says Mr Sharma.


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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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