Australia’s biggest mountain bike festival – the Cannonball – is returning to Thredbo in 2022 and local Sian A’Hern is looking to defend her “Queen of the Cannonball” crown for the fourth year running.
“It is always fun walking away with the win,” said A’Hern.
The festival, running from 8 to 12 February, consists of five events: the Oakley Australian Open Downhill, the Fox Flow Motion Cup, the Deity Whip Wars, the ROCKSHOX Pump Track Challenge and the Osprey All-Mountain Assault.
Winners of the “gravity inspired” events receive a share of $100,000 in cash and prizes and one man and woman will be crowned King and Queen of the Cannonball.
“It’s a great event for so many people no matter what your discipline, and it’s kind of just a festival where we can all get together with different disciplines and all give everything a go,” she said.
“People from all over the world come for the Cannonball event usually. I think with COVID this year, there’ll be more Australians coming to the event.”
The $100,000 prize pool is well above many of the similar competitions Australia-wide. While that is a motivation for some, others simply want to enjoy a week riding with their friends.
“Anyone who can ride a bike and actually just wants to have fun with their mates for a week riding,” said A’Hern.
“There are so many riders and they all have fun no matter their ability or reason for being there which is great.”
Since changing to mountain biking from motocross, she has performed at Nationals, the World Cup and World Championships. She says it’s the love of the sport and the community that keeps her “ticking”.
Like many other sports, the last two years have been a slow period for the nation’s mountain bike riders, with the sport struggling to get a consistent run of events.
A’Hern expects that with restrictions across the states likely to be minimal by February, it might just be their biggest event yet.
For people in the community who may be considering giving Cannonball a try, A’Hern had some very good advice.
“Get out of your comfort zone and give it a go. It’s one of the best events of the year and definitely one not to miss out on.”
Interested in entering or spectating? All the details on the event and how to register are available on the Thredbo website.