Jenna Hastings is the name on everyone’s lips. The Rotorua teenager has just been crowned the Junior Women’s Downhill World Champion at Les Gets, France. With the Rainbow Jersey firmly in hand, Jenna is now back on home soil – just in time for Crankworx, in November. We grabbed ten minutes with Jenna, in her busy schedule, but believe us when we say this won’t be the last time we hear from her.

1 How old were you when you started mountain biking, and how did you get your start in the sport?
I’ve mountain biked my entire life. Living five minutes from the Whakarewarewa Forest it was only natural that myself and my siblings rode bikes. I started BMX when I was six, which I continued until I was 14, however, when I reached 11 I started to focus on mountain biking — downhill and enduro — and just kept doing BMX as something on the side.

2 What has the journey been like to get to where you are today?
The journey to get to where I am today has been pretty good. I did pretty well in my first few years competing, so that put my name out there which has helped me to get a kickstart in sponsors and helped in getting people to see the potential in me. Obviously racing overseas has always been a dream of mine, but it wasn’t until Crankworx Rotorua 2021 that I could actually see that becoming a reality. My parents had been talking about it before then but, when I won the downhill, I think they — and myself — realised it would actually happen. Then, after the Crankworx summer series, Bernard Kerr and Pivot approached me and said they wanted to help me out in 2022. That was pretty cool. And it’s kind of history from then — going overseas and racing World Cups, making my dream a reality.

3 What was it like winning the Junior Women’s DH World Championship at Les Gets?

Insane. I still don’t think it has sunk in yet to be completely honest. I still look at the Rainbow Jersey and think, ‘you’re kidding?!’

4 How did you celebrate?
Well, I’m sure you saw my burnout that went viral on social media… then it was on TV… so that shows how I celebrated really, haha. But you can imagine how a world champ celebrates their win, along with the rest of the World Cup field and half of France: party.

5 What sort of training or thought process went into getting you onto the winning spot on the podium?
It’s quite hard to do proper training during the World Cup circuit, especially when you’re not at home and don’t go home between some of the races. It’s hard to get a gym membership, for example, when you’re constantly moving around. So training wise, we would just go for a few trail rides, and I would go to the gym with Bernard Kerr when we were at his house and also when I was in Morzine for a few weeks. Other than that, you kind of just go from race to race. My thought process was pretty much the same [as it was] for all the other races: just get through the weekend and do your best. I say pretty much the same because it was slightly different in the sense that I did believe I could win. I felt good all weekend and it’s not that I didn’t think I could win at other World Cups, but this one felt more doable.

6 You’re now racing for Pivot Factory Racing, what does this mean to you?

Pivot is a team I’ve always looked up to. The team dynamic itself is one I’ve always seen myself wanting to be a part of, and I’ve always looked up to the other riders on the team. I’ve known Matt Walker for most of my life as he used to do BMX when I was a kid, so I naturally looked up to him, and Ed Masters — he has always been my idol. The way he holds himself and is always having fun; I always wanted to be like that. Maybe now I’ve seen the way he functions I might need to rethink that… Being a part of the team now is a dream come true and means so much to me.

7 What is next for you and your career?
Keep racing World Cups. That is the ultimate goal and plan for the next few years. Crankworx and maybe a few EWS races are also on the cards, but the main focus is on World Cups.

8 Who have you looked to for inspiration over the years?

Ed Masters, Matt Walker, and Bernard Kerr as I said before. Rachel Atherton was also my idol when I first started racing when I was 12 or 13, as she was just about every other little girl’s idol. I looked up to everyone in a way, I liked watching everyone race and liked to follow what they did with their lives, but those four are the ones that stand out to me as people who I wanted to be like.

9 Do you have any big chunky goals that you’re working towards in the future?
Not at the moment. World Champ and overall World Cup winner are goals of mine, but I don’t think they will be achieved in the next few years. So, for the foreseeable future, my goal is to do the best I can.

10 What words of encouragement do you have for other women mountain bikers?
Just go for it.

Where can we keep tabs on you and your career?
Instagram: @jennnahastings
YouTube: janaynay


Words: Kerrie Morgan and Jenna Hastings
Photography: Sven Martin