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Aaron Gwinn- MX Rules

It’s been a bit of dry spell for the US in terms of World Cup success, there’s been various reasons mooted to why this had happened. Whether it’s the long shadow cast by the successes of the iconic riders of the
past and the weight of expectation to repeat those victories, maybe just the way things go or one of the many explanations offered up by the internet experts? It’s been longer still since anyone has genuinely burst on to the World Cup scene without using the well trodden route to the highest level of racing, side stepping the hype circus and avoiding the blinkers of reputation. How do you get a couple of top ten World Cup finishes less than a year after starting racing better ask the Rookie of the year Aaron Gwin.

Descent-World: So, from local racer to World Cup rider in one season?
Aaron Gwin: Haha yea, It’s been a pretty crazy year. I was hoping to be at this level by the end of next year so I guess I’m just blessed that it happened a bit sooner.

DW: You better explain how you got from a borrowed bike to a member of the Factory Yeti team in a matter of months?
AG: Well it all started with a phone call from Rich Houseman. I had been racing some local races in California on a borrowed bike from the boys at Decline and just happened to catch his eye. He called me up one night and asked if I would be interested in riding for the Yeti-so cal. regional team. I definitely was, so I signed with them that week and started riding and training under Rich’s coaching. At the first Norba national of the year Yeti had a rider injured, so they offered me his spot on the national team for a few races. After getting some strong finishes including a 10th at Sea Otter they decided to keep me on that team. Well I kept racing and started winning some so they took me to Mont Sainte Anne and Bromont to see how I would do at the world cup level. I finished 10th at MSA and then crashed at Bromont finishing 34th. After getting home from Canada we sat down and they told me I would finish the year on the factory
team.. the rest is history. I’m definitely thankful for how it all worked out.

DW: Did you honestly think that you’d be sitting in the Hot-Seat at a race on the other side of the world this time last year?
AG: No, this time last year I wasn’t planning on racing mountain bikes really. I had only ridden one a few times and it hadn’t clicked yet that I might have a future in it.

DW: Now the hype machine has started working its magic, how are you finding things?
AG: I’m finding things just fine. I don’t mind hype at all, I actually like it. It’s good for you and your sponsors to have people talking about you so I take it as a positive thing.

DW:I guess a few more people knew who you were at Interbike compared to Sea Otter?
AG: Yea haha I guess so. I met so many new people this year, it was cool to see a lot of them at Interbike again.

On MSA's most photographed hip

On MSA's most photographed hip

MSA 2008

MSA 2008

DW: How did you find Schladming, first trip to Europe?
AG: It was fun! I don’t know, it kind of took a few days to set in that I was so far from home. The track was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see how people do things in other parts of the world..
I’m looking forward to going back for sure.

DW: Having Sam, Justin & Damion with their World Cup experience around must have helped?
AG: Yea, it’s awesome having those guys around, they have helped me out so much. We all work really good as a team, so I think we’re able to improve in anything faster because of it.

DW: It must have been cool that Yeti decided to fly you over to Austria so soon after signing you up?
AG: Actually I hadn’t even signed with Yeti for 09 when they sent me over there, so that was even cooler. The team has been nothing but supportive in the things I want to do this year and I’m definitely happy I’ll be staying with them a while longer.

DW: Are we going to see you over in Europe a bit more often next year?
AG: Yes, that’s the plan. Right now I’m under contract to race the full world cup schedule for Yeti the next 2 years.

Jumping into the blue yonder

Jumping into the blue yonder

DW: Your background is slightly different to the current younger generation of riders who have just done DH from day one, do you think that’s helped…Maybe bringing something extra to your game?
AG: Yea I think it has for sure. I grew up racing BMX at a national level and then went on to motocross when I was twelve. So between those two sports, downhill came pretty natural to me.

DW: The Switch from MX to DH, pretty straightforward?
AG: I think so, some things are a lot different, but a lot of it crosses over. I still ride moto quite a bit and I think it helps for sure

DW: How about the mental aspect, riding against the clock rather than trying not to get passed or trying to pass someone?

AG: I like it, you’re the only one on the track so your results are 100% on you. I have had to adjust to it a little bit but overall I like it better.

DW: Now you’ve had a ‘learning’ year, what sort of goals are you setting for ’09?
AG: I still just want to keep learning at every race. That would be the number 1 goal but for results I would like to be in the top 10 consistently. If I could get on the podium at least once I would be happy with that too.

DW: Any shout outs, or thank you?
AG: Yea for sure, I have had awesome support this year, I can’t thank everyone enough- My parents, Rich Houseman and his family, Keith and Taf Darner, Chris Conroy and everyone at Yeti cycles, the boys at Decline, Fox racing Shox, Monster Energy, Freestyle watches, Smith optics, Nema, 661, Dylan Dean designs and Sponsorhouse.com..Thanks!

Photos- Craig Grant

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