In love with Utah

Mountainbiker Kelly McGarry.
Mountainbiker Kelly McGarry.

It was with some trepidation that Queenstown-based mountain biker Kelly McGarry opened his letter from the Governor of Utah.

The last time he received a letter from the state of which he has been based during northern hemisphere summers for the past six years, it was a fine for mountain biking in an area where he shouldn't have.

However, last week's correspondence was to inform him he had been nominated for the third annual Governor's State of Sport award.

His nomination in the Play or Highlight category was made by a committee of the Utah Sports Commission, the letter said.

Finalists would be chosen by sports fans with winners recognised on April 22.

''I was pretty shocked,'' he said last week.

''Usually these things go to American football players and base ball players. It's pretty cool to be in the mix.''

He assumed the nomination was due to the 17 million hits a YouTube clip of his spectacular backflip over a 22-metre canyon in Utah last year has attracted.

The two-minute video, captured on a camera on Mr McGarry's helmet, shows him competing in the Red Bull Rampage.

He finished second, but won the "People's Choice" award after being the only rider to do a flip over the canyon towards the end of the run.

He wouldn't be attending the awards event but expected to return to Utah for the mountain biking season.

He was almost ''Utarian'' he had spent so much time there in recent years, he said.

''It's a pretty awesome part of the world. There's no where else like it.''

The Mormon dominated population had some ''crazy laws'' including limits on the percentage of alcohol in beer, he said.

''That's the one that affects me the most.''

He was currently enjoying the Queenstown weather and helping in the construction of a slopestyle course for this year's Queenstown Bike Festival.


The Southland Times