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Interviews

Chris Kovarik | Now and Then

Charismatic, menacing… Chris Kovarik still commands a major place in downhill history through both his past results and drama. He shook the world at Fort William in 2002 with one of the most heart stopping runs downhill has ever seen. Having spent the majority of his career on Intense, he’s won more World Cups than most, with his unique aggressive, all–action style winning fans worldwide. Chris now spends his time coaching with wife Claire splitting their time between Australia and Canada.

DIRT ISSUE 143 – JANUARY 2014

Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Roo Fowler & Malcolm Fearon

Chris, what’s that now… 14 years now racing for Intense? You and Jeff (Steber, Intense’s main man) must get on pretty well?

That’s right, 14 years. It’s been great to see Intense evolve in the industry as one of the original core bike brands. From the very beginning in 2000 Jeff took myself and Michael Ronning under his wing and accommodated us in his own house for the season. We did this for years, so we really got to know each other well. Jeff and his wife Jenn are like family basically!

You’ve had a crazy busy year of racing in 2013, nearly double the amount of races than most pro riders race? That’s a strong mind–set to go against the clock, do you still feel the same in the start gate than say a decade ago?

Yeah it was actually hectic at times but I can’t complain, racing the full Aussie national season, I was coaching every day in Whistler, racing the Whistler local ‘Phat Wednesday’ races and then the next day travelling to races across eastern Canada, and now I’m about to start the Aussie national season again.

It does help a lot being on the bike and racing every chance you can, nerves at the start gate these days are very minimal, when you do something so repetitively it becomes second nature and I’ve been at that stage for years. I’m a lot more mature now on the bike when taking chances and knowing my limit.

Let’s go back ten years, your 14.02 seconds win at Fort William. Much talked about, still one of the greatest runs and winning margins, what can you pass on to future racers in terms of the forces that went into that run?

I had won the last race of the year in Mt St Anne (MSA) before that race so I was still in the same mind–set after winning the Australian National Championships and then heading to Fort William for the first race of the year. At that time there was only really a handful of guys that could win or podium, so my chances were good. The track was new so no one had an advantage, but it started to blow out, big holes, mud and ruts. I rode on the edge, but smart, in my final. Although I was on it, I don’t think it was forced, I just picked different micro lines in the final from my qualifier and they worked!>>

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