: Where are you from?
MATT: I’m from a small town in the north island of New Zealand called Kawerau.
: Do you have a nickname?
MATT: The nickname „Waxer“ has started to stick lately with mates and before you feel the need to ask- ‚No, there is not a weird waxing story behind the name! Haha.
: How long have you been racing DH for?
MATT: My first race would have been the 2006 pre-worlds event in Rotorua, I raced on a hard tail. I just crashed my brains out the whole time but loved it!
MATT: 2x under 17 New Zealand sheep shearing champion.
: Its been a few months now since the end of last season, what have you been doing over the off season and what are your plans leading into the start of the new season?
MATT: After World Champs in Andorra I flew back home to New Zealand and started straight back at work as an electrician in Rotorua to pay the bills but I managed to get sick of that pretty quick and decided to do something about it. With 2 rounds of the City Downhill World Tour left I talked to the event organisers, sponsors and racked up the credit card bill some more to roll the dice with racing and try winning some good prize money to get myself out of debt after the World Cup season. A 3rd place at the Bilbao, Spain round wasn’t enough to pay all the bills but it was enough to cover the next flights to Taxco to give it another nudge! An epic trip to Mexico for the last round and another 3rd got me out of the red and meant that I could afford to move to Queenstown which is where I will be based up till the start of the 2016 season with amazing riding, a new coach and solid crew of guys down here there is no where I would rather be leading up to this season!
MATT: With the success with the cube enduro team a venture into World Cup Downhill racing was always on the cards and when I received a message from the guys at bliss saying they had teamed up with cube to form the Cube Global Squad and they wanted to talk I was stoked! Nah no nerves, We have been doing extensive testing with Cube and have been tweaking and developing the bike and set up to be the best it can be and along with the calibre of components we are running this is going to be one dialed race machine and I am really looking forward to this season!
: Can you tell us about the new bike – where you’ve been testing it, what’s it like, what are its strengths and why are you excited about racing it?
MATT: We have recently been on a team camp in San Romolo where we tested different frames, different suspension set ups all with freelap timing and full telemetry data recording so we got actual numbers to put to it rather than just relying on rider feedback and a stopwatch but I’m confident we are now on the best set up we can be so I’m excited to see how it goes on the World Cup circuit!
MATT: The game plan is to keep things pretty simple this season we are a smaller team with a good environment where we can do our best, enjoy it along the way and just smash it! The teams sponsors and supporters have been chosen on quality not quantity so with the bikes we are on there is nothing I’m wanting to change on it!
: Going from the Vanzacs squad to the Cube Global Squad is a big step – how do you think it will be different at the races and will the rest of the Vanzacs still talk to you now you’re on a factory team?
MATT: The World Cup circus is a pretty small scene so after a few seasons of begging for old tires or rims you do get to know most people around and was stoked to hear I’d be riding with Greg as we got along pretty well and I’m thinking I could learn a lot from his experiences of being on TWR for a few years now so hopefully we can both push each other and bring different things to the table to develop each other’s riding!
: Aside from the World Cup series, what other events will you be attending?
MATT: I’m still frothing on all kinds of riding and racing so I want to do it all! But aside from the World Cup series I’ll be attending the 3 stops of the Crankworx series, selected European cups, EWS rounds where possible, hopefully the City Dowhnill World Tour and what ever else I can make work this season!
: Which single race or event in particular, are you most looking forward to in 2016 and why?
MATT: That’s a hard one! There are too many good races throughout the year to call just one, they all have their own unique pros and cons and with so many variables on the day that can swing how you feel about it. But if I had to choose one I’m thinking Val Di Sole for World Champs. Legendary track, great atmosphere and hopefully they bring back that Italian system of a down cover band playing the after party haha!
MATT: For me, my influence has not always been who is the fastest or the best in the world it’s people having a good time and actually enjoying what they are doing. So my biggest influence I guess has been just to have fun riding my bike! Wheather I get that enjoyment out of pushing my limits at a World Cup or just goon bike park laps with the boys it’s all good in my books!
: What are your personal goals for 2016?
MATT: I would definitely like to improve my consistency with racing I feel I am capable of constant top 30 finishes and ultimate goal of a top 10. I am now working with a coach for the first time and pushing myself 10x harder than ever with preparation for this coming season so I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good one!
MATT: There have been far too many amazing moments in amazing places that when you sit back and just take it all in you think life doesn’t get much better and I’m glad I got to share those moments with real good friends but the most memorable was a weird one! It would have to be this one time in 2013 we had been driving in a van convoy for hours and it was about 2am when we decided to stop for the night. We found a spot out back of this petrol station on the side of highway. We set up to sleep for the night. About 10 minutes later a station wagon pulls up right behind us and after hearing the classic horror stories about bad stuff going down on the side of highways over night myself and Tom Matthews decided to stay up a bit and have a little sneaky watch out the side window to see what was going on. The area was dimly lit but enough light to make out shapes and movement there was a younger guy maybe in his mid 30s pushing 5 old homeless/ drunk/ drugged looking guys out of his car – one of which was even in a wheelchair!! They have some ratty blankets and cardboard and set up on the ground a few meters away from our van in the dark shadows and most of them lie down to sleep, except one…. So we just sat there watching him out the windows and mirrors, He must have been drunk or something just stumbling around the vans and annoying the other guys trying to sleep on the ground. We can’t understand their murmurings so we would have a clue what was going but either way one of them was getting sick of him. After a bit more arguing they broke into a little scuffle then out of no where we hear this loud ‚thump‘ and he had been hit over the head with this big rock by the other guy! Blood starts pouring out of his head and we were in shock of what’s going on a few meters away with no idea what to do, no working phone to call from, no idea where we even were or no idea what this other guy who drove them would do if we caused a scene. So this old guy stumbles away covered in blood swaying more now and we were just expecting to see him collapse and die, it was crazy. But for the next half hour he just kept shuffling around the car park, around our van and just mumbling to himself the whole time. Eventually he lay down in the grass and by that point we were so tired after a big day it didn’t take long for us to crash out while trying to keep watch. I woke back up at about 6am when I realised I feel asleep, we got up to check and they were all gone. The only evidence they were even there was spots of flat grass from where they slept and smears of blood on our van and an electrical box where that guy had been trying to write a message with his blood!! Still have no idea what went on that night or what that whole situation really was but it stuck with me and would definitely have to be the most memorable thing to happen!
: How’s your German?
MATT: What is Germany?