Leigh Donovan Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze 1997 | My Favourite Photo

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leigh donovan mammoth mountain kamikaze 1997 Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell, Bike Geek and Troy Lee Designs ‘Bike Man’ – My Favourite Photo: LEIGH DONOVAN, MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN KAMIKAZE, USA, 1997, BY JOHN ‘GIBBY’ GIBSON

From Dirt Issue 138 – August 2013

Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell is a true mountain biker and industry man. He most probably knows more about the DH scene and the people in it than most. He has been involved in the sport from way back…mechanic (most notably for Brian Lopes and wife Leigh Donovan), company man and now he is the ‘Sports Marketing and Athlete Development’ guy for Troy Lee Designs. His old and now defunct (I think) StiksandStones website offered up ‘true dirt from the mountain bike world…a place where the insiders go for the real story in mountain bike racing’, it was ahead of its time (in many ways). Stik is the third person to feature in another random/regular mini feature for us. Each month we’ll be picking someone from the biking world to choose their ‘favourite’ photo and to tell us why.

Words by Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell. Photo by Stikman.

This is my favourite race photo of all time. I did not shoot it, and the subject is not me, it is my wife, DH World Champion Leigh Donovan. I not only love the shot because it’s just a great shot, processed perfectly, captured in a great moment, but the story behind the image was something I was involved with. No, we did not feed starving children that day, or wear yellow wristbands, but just good ole fashioned athleticism and becoming better through technology, camaraderie, and perseverance.

The photo was taken on the Mammoth Kamikaze, by one of the sports best photographers, John Gibson – it ran on the back inside cover of ‘Mountain Bike’ in 1997 and was shot that same year. Leigh had always sucked ass at Mammoth, it was her worst event on the world circuit. She would have double–up wins most national weekends on a variety of DH and slalom tracks, podium at World Cup DH’s, but we would come here and she would just go so slow, not even make the top 15. So in 97’ after winning the overall national title two years in a row, Leigh was disgusted that she was the #1 American downhiller, but couldn’t even smell the podium here. We got serious with the equipment by getting as aero as possible, but more importantly, Leigh did numerous practice runs with two of the Kamikaze’s best riders, Elke Brutesart and Jimmy Deaton. She learned all of their techniques, where to brake (which was one spot on entire course), where to pedal, where to tuck, etc.

Leigh ended up 4th place on the day and it was a huge victory for our little Mongoose race team, Brian Lopes even ended up doing well after having years of sub–par results at the event. I just always loved this photo because it was a great weekend for us, and it’s a sick shot. In about 2005, Gibby sent me this print he had done. I guess he got wind that it was my favourite photo and asked if I wanted a print… it doesn’t get much nicer than that.

Leigh loves the photo too. I have been meaning to get this thing framed forever, but it’s been in a plastic bag for years. Some day when I am done ‘enduro–ing’.

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