McGarry hurtles backwards into podium finish
A backflip 22 metres over a canyon gap has seen Nelson rider Kelly McGarry take second place in the Redbull Rampage, "the most extreme freeride mountainbike competition on the planet".
McGarry said "flipping the canyon gap" in Virgin, Utah, was always something he wanted to achieve.
He was supposed to throw down the epic trick in the same competition last year but broke his leg filming on a trail two days out and could not compete. Returning 12 months later, the 31-year-old from Wakefield said he knew the trick was within his powers even though the preparation didn't quite go to plan.
"In practice, I crashed hard in my second attempt at just jumping the gap straight," McGarry told the Nelson Mail from Utah.
"I knew that to be able to trick it I would [just] need a heap more speed, so my dig team made a few adjustments to my run in and it was perfect."
In a competition where the world's top riders come together, McGarry described what it takes to stand out: "Pick the steepest and gnarliest line, hit the biggest jumps, pull off the craziest of tricks and get to the bottom in one piece."
Soaring through the air, upside down, with the red rocky earth of a canyon opening beneath him, Kelly nailed it. But the run wasn't over.
"[I felt] relieved and stoked, but the job wasn't finished.
"I still had a few features to get through, including another backflip, so had to quickly regain focus to make sure I got to the bottom with a clean run."
Getting close to a podium finish in a premier event like this is no easy feat. Yet the Waimea College old boy finished within a point of Kyle Strait, now a two-time winner of the event. The judges determined that Strait's line in the top half of the course was slightly more technical, and his kicker was a "huge no-hander" off the gigantic Icon Sender feature.
"There wasn't much in it," said McGarry. "The win was well within my reach it was just unfortunate that the comp was stopped before I got my second run.
"Second place in the biggest freeride mountainbike competition in the world is a huge highlight of my career for sure, and without a doubt I was stoked to be standing on the podium."
With the second place at Rampage, McGarry finished the FMB World Tour in ninth place overall, the first time he has cracked the top 10 in world rankings.
The qualified carpenter, who wished to thank his sponsors, family and friends for helping him achieve his goal of becoming a fulltime professional rider, will now head to Mexico for filming.
Then it is off to compete in the Taxco Urban DH race for "a bit of fun" before he puts the bikes away for a few weeks to go surfing on the Mexican Pacific coast prior to returning to Queenstown for the summer.
Yet, all the while there will be a bit of a gap lingering in his list of achievements.
"The top step [on the podium] is the one I'm aiming for and I knew it was within my reach. I will just have to wait.
"I definitely had more in the tank for my second run that was going to top the backflip. So next year I will be upping my game and will be letting loose on that canyon gap once again."
- © Fairfax NZ News