Laurie Greenland stepped up to the elite DH ranks this year taking the transition from junior in his usual calm, calculated relaxed style. His riding technique as been described as unique; flat out, loose and on times wild! He is in fact a smooth operator, with a calculated determination to get down the mountains in the most effective and quickest time possible.
After getting involved with DH at the age of seven, this confident, softly spoken young man hailing from the British shores has certainly gone from strength to strength. He steadily learnt from any mistakes, turning any negatives into positives and 2015 saw him use his unique style to underline a phenomenal final junior year taking the World Championship win alongside the World Cup title.
Now with a change of team, bike and no real pressure to do anything but ride, its safe to say Greenland has had an equally stellar introduction to the elite ranks. Finishing 9th overall in the World Cup rankings and ending his season with a surprise silver medal in the World Championships with only his on fire team mate and seasoned elite racer Danny Hart able to quash the blazing time set by the youngster - Greenland is certainly shaping up to be one of the next DH superstars.
We sat down with Laurie to find out about his first year in the elite ranks…
After a phenomenal year in 2015 winning the Junior World Champs & taking the Junior World Cup title, you must have been pretty hot property. Were there plenty of offers from other teams?
LG: Yeah there was quite a bit of interest at the end of the season. So for me the most important decision about joining a team has to be the bike. I basically tested a lot of bikes to start with and decided to go with the bike I felt most comfortable on. The Mondraker Summum with its set up ticked all the boxes for me. I’ve always believed that if you’ve got a good bike, with top suspension and a good team to get behind you, it’s a happy place to be and it all falls into place.
What were your aims for your first year as an elite?
LG: The transition from Junior to Elite can be quite tough jump. For some it can be make or break. The elite scene is just a different race altogether.
I think I’ve done okay, I don’t think it could have gone too much better for me in my first year as an elite to be honest. I was just hoping to progress on my junior years, to try and keep my performances consistent and safe. The team aims were for me to focus on the stop 20’s. I didn’t want to be rolling the dice too many times, as you never know when your luck might run out and that’s the season over. So I just wanted to get through every weekend and replicate a good solid run every time. I didn’t want to go too hard too soon. I’m still young with a lot to learn and still a way to go.
It looked to some that you certainly rolled the dice at the World Champs?
LG: It didn’t feel like that to me. I thought personally I rode a pretty tight race, I felt good all weekend, there wasn’t any dice rolling in my mind, although a few people thought I was risking it for sure. Like every good worlds run there will be the odd loose moment but that’s just how it is!
It all just clicked into place; the bike, the suspension, me and when it all comes together like that you maybe push a little bit harder. When you get into that zone early in the weekend you just thrive off it.
What advice would you give someone thinking about getting involved with DH racing?
LG: All I can say is just have fun. Just run what you’ve got and have a good time with it, its not about who has the best equipment that’s for sure. Don’t take it too seriously and get to know your race head.
I think if you have it all given to you too early, you don’t really have the motivation to strive for more, in a way that can halt the progression of many younger riders.
Why do you think the UK is such a successful DH nation despite their lack of big hills?
LG: I think that because there aren’t that many big hills in the UK, everyone seems to come together in just a few places, so the competition to succeed and be noticed in such a huge scene is pretty intense and pushes you a bit harder each time. In the Alps, there are so many amazing places you can ride, the scene is more spread out. I think maybe that’s a huge difference in our cultures and perhaps a reason why we are so driven to be competitive on a world stage. People feed off each other in a competitive situation and progress because of the pressure.
LG: Thinking about 2017, this year I definitely surprised myself and did a bit better than I was expecting, going into next year’s race season I can relax a bit. I don't have to prove myself nearly as much as this year so the plan is to get into the groove early and have a good time with it, try to ride consistently and aim for the top.
I have a pretty intense training schedule for this offseason, if you want to be at the top of your game and competitive in elite DH racing then it has to be done. You’re always pushing on to find ways to improve your performance, body, mind and machine. When all the hard work is done and it all comes together it makes it all worth it, there's no better feeling. It’s all in the preparation. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together next year that’s for sure.
Interview by Joolze Dymond #creativeventure