From living the dirtbag dream in America to fracturing his hand and still racing at a home race, Andrew Neethling‘s life as a racer has been anything but dull.
In January, he called time on his full time downhill racing career. Needles has been at the very top of the game for 14 years but, thankfully, it sounds like he’ll be sticking around in the industry for years to come. We caught up with him to find out which races stick out the most
Kaprun World Championships and Les Gets World Cup – 2002
This was my last year as a junior. I’d been doing well at home and my dad helped out getting us to the race and then the World Cup afterwards. I had a goal set in my mind of a top ten to show people that I had potential to go racing as an elite.
I knew a few of the riders like Marc Beaumont and Julien Cammellini and I knew how good the field was. Obviously when you’re young you think everything’s exciting but to this day I think the course was just unbelievable.
I’ve still got the photos on the wall in my parents’ house
I wasn’t too intimidated at all, when you’re a youngster everything’s new – it’s the best, I wish I could have felt that for longer. Dropping in as a junior and achieving that goal of a top ten gave me the confidence to make a go of it the next year as an elite.
There was a big after party and I met my idols that are now hopefully life long friends. You’ve put them on such a pedestal and then you get to meet them and they’re such amazing normal people.
We were in Europe so we went onto Les Gets for the final World Cup of the year – my first World Cup. I remember another amazing course; it was just so cool. My brother was over there and my dad would mechanic on our bikes, it was quite a family effort.
I don’t even know if I was 78th or 72nd but I was ridiculously close to not qualifying. In the final it dried up a bit and I got 50th in my first World Cup as a junior. I’ve still got the photos on the wall in my parents’ house.
I was about ten seconds faster than my qualifying. It really became something I went back to quite a lot in the beginnings, if I qualified poorly I knew I could make quite a lot of time if I put my mind to it.