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Danny Hart interview: crashing & recovering, racing & training

British downhill star Danny Hart was unable to defend his world championship title this year after a dislocating his shoulder in a crash at Crankworx Les Deux Aples in July. The Giant-sponsored 21-year-old from Redcar spoke to Nik Cook about that crash, his rehabilitation and the day he became world champion.

Giant rider Danny Hart in the world champion’s rainbow jersey earlier this season. Image by christopher berry photography via Flickr.

Danny Hart will be appearing at the Buxton Adventure Festival on Sunday October 21 where he will be interviewed by The Cycle Show presenter Anna Glowinski. The interview will be followed by a showing of freeride movie Where The Trail Ends.

Bikemagic: How had 2012 gone up until crash at the Crankworx event at Les Deux Alpes?

Danny Hart: It was going really well. It didn’t start too great. I had a bad one at the first world cup in South Africa. It started to turn at Val di Sole then I had three from five podiums so I was on for a good rest of the season.

Bikemagic: What happened at Les Deux Alpes?

Danny Hart: I just had a silly crash. I came round the corner to do a jump. The jump was really close to the corner and I couldn’t stop. but there was tape across the top of the jump and I was fully committed to doing it. I couldn’t stop because it was so close to the corner and I had to go fast to clear it and the tape didn’t snap it just stretched. I just went straight over the handle bars and popped my shoulder.

Danny Hart gets sideways. Image by Giant

Bikemagic: How’s the rehab going?

Danny Hart: It’s good. I managed to do 10 press ups last night which is quite a big step for me but there’s no rush, I’m just taking my time.

Bikemagic: When you do think you’ll be back to 100 percent?

Danny Hart: I don’t know because there’s no time frame . I’ve got till next June till the next World Cup but within the next month or two I hope.

Danny Hart (left) in the dual slalom at Sea Otter. Image by Hector Sandoval via Flickr.

Bikemagic: Let’s talk about that amazing run at the 2011 world championships. How did you feel in the start gate when you saw the conditions?

Danny Hart: At the start I didn’t know how anyone was doing or what the situation was at the bottom so I was just doing my own thing at the top. I didn’t know how it was going to be because we hadn’t ridden it in torrential rain like it was.

I just had an open mind and rode like I had in practice and it worked. So yeah it was good. I was with my coach and mechanic at the top and it was just that one race that was like ‘all or nothing’ . That was my attitude at the top and it seemed to pay off.

Getting air at Crankworx. Image by Stef Candé/stefcande.blogspot.com/OfficialCrankworx via Flickr

Bikemagic: How did the actual run feel? Did you know you were going that well?

Danny Hart: I knew it was a good run. I did all the lines that I was doing in the dry so I knew it was good, and that I’d be on for a good time when I got to the bottom. So, yeah, I was quite confident.

Bikemagic: How did it feel standing on top of the podium and having those hoops on your chest?

Danny Hart: It was great. I can’t really describe it. All the years I’ve been racing, and the practice and training paid off. It was just out of this world.

Bikemagic: It looked like you were riding a different course to everyone else, you were sticking to lines and trails so brilliantly. Did you make any special bike or tyre tweaks?

Danny Hart: No, I didn’t really change a lot. I didn’t do a lot out of the ordinary. We changed a few things because it’s so steep, it’s not like any other track we ride all year but nothing drastic [changed].

Bikemagic: You talked about training. I’m a cross-country rider so for me its miles and miles. What’s the typical training for a downhill rider like you?

Danny Hart: It changes through which part of the year we’re at. In the season when we get chance to get home we just do interval training and for whichever track’s coming up. But in the off season we just do lots of road miles and lots of cross-country miles. Closer to the season we start doing more interval sort of stuff. We do a lot of different stuff, so swimming, cycling, gym work.

Danny Hart at the Fort William World Cup in 2010. Image by thompson’s gazelle via Flickr.

Bikemagic: You get to ride all over the world. Where’s your favourite place?

Danny Hart: That’s quite a hard question to answer because there’s different riding everywhere but in the Alps I think is one of my fave places. For racing I often go to Fort William and Mont Sainte Anne and all these different places for different reasons.

Bikemagic: Mountain bikes have evolved from cantilever-braked full rigid things to the incredible bikes we’ve got now. What’s your view on the way technology’s going?

Danny Hart: At the moment everything’s going carbon so that’s a big step in the sport. It’s got to that stage where you can’t do a lot more, but I’m sure people everywhere will be working on something. Possibly the gear box will try and come back in if someone can get that going properly but at the moment I don’t see much change.

Bikemagic: How much experience have you got on different wheel sizes knocking around at the moment?

Danny Hart: I haven’t – just 26 that’s all I’ve ever ridden! [laughs].

Bikemagic: What are your goals for 2013?

Danny Hart: To win as many races as I can and try and become world champion again. That will be tough in South Africa but nothing that we can’t handle, so hopefully just try and win some more races.

Danny Hart takes off down the trail in practice at Crankworx Deux Alpes. Image by Simon Nieborak/www.delayedpleasure.com/OfficialCrankworx via Flickr


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