By Mick Jensen
There will be no South Island Schools’ MTB Championships at the Mt Hutt Bike Park next week and no big financial boost for the Methven economy after the cancellation of the event due to the threat of coronavirus.
The 2020 championships was set to be the biggest New Zealand schools’ mountain bike event to date, with record numbers entered into enduro, downhill and cross country competitions .
Last year’s very successful event at Mt Hutt brought in an estimated $500,000 into the Methven economy and more was anticipated this year.
Bike Methven has been working on the event management side of the championships for a number of months and spokesperson Clare Harden said the need to cancel had been confirmed earlier this week.
“Sadly it’s has been out of our control.
“We’ve been following the Government health advice and the event is ultimately regulated by that.
“We are definitely disappointed. Our aim for this event was to bring economic benefit to Methven, it now looks like it will be a very hard time over the next few months for this town.”
Mrs Harden said Bike Methven was still working through the logistics with suppliers, but it looked like there would be a financial hit.
She said it was hoped to reschedule the event, but the ability to do that was restricted by the upcoming ski season on Mt Hutt.
March next year was earmarked as a possibility, she said.
This year’s event had maximum confirmed entries of 320 in the enduro, 275 in the downhill and 300 in the cross country.
Some 30 volunteers were lined up to carry out driving, marshalling, registration, timing and parking duties, and more were being asked to lend a hand.
There was to be free entry for spectators, food and music on offer and some big jumps expected from talent young riders.
Hours of work had also gone into track preparation and other logistics.
Bike Methven used last year’s event profits for a new shuttle trailer and track maintenance. This year’s profits were earmarked for more track development and maintenance.