Rotorua Local Jenna Hastings is Ready to Dominate on Home Soil

Jenna Hastings is firmly establishing herself at the top of her field and amongst mountain biking’s elite on a global scale.The Rotorua teenager came out blazing at Crankworx Rotorua in 2021 and following her Overall Win at Crankworx Summer Series New Zealand 2021, Jenna was signed by the Pivot Factory Racing team for the 2022 season.

After nabbing the coveted Rainbow Jersey during the Junior Women’s DH World Championship and winning third in Crankworx Cairns Pump Track Challenge last month, she is ready to return to her hometown for Crankworx Rotorua in a few weeks. On the advantages of competing on home soil, we had a kōrerorero (chat) with Jenna ahead of the upcoming event…

Coming to the end of your first year on the World Tour, how have you found it?

“It’s been a learning curve that’s for sure. Having not been out of Australia and New Zealand without my parents until the start of this year, I was nervous. I went in with no expectations of myself and the results I would be getting, just with the mindset of getting a chance to explore the world and gain experience in racing internationally at the highest level.”

What are you most looking forward to at Crankworx Rotorua 2022?

“I think just the people, getting to spend time not only with the ever-growing Crankworx family but being able to race at home surrounded by family and friends and other Kiwis. I’m looking forward to just having fun, soaking up the week and putting no expectations on myself.”

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

“Short-term, at the end of this year and next year, I want to do as well as I can in the Crankworx events coming up whilst putting no pressure on myself and just focusing on having fun. Coming into the international season, and my first year as elite in downhill, I hope to do as well as I can and ride how I think I should be riding, as well as try to grow as a person and rider. I also hope to do some EWS rounds when I can and of course, Crankworx. I’d love to be a part of Speed & Style next year, and one day (hopefully soon) be a contender for Queen of Crankworx. Naturally, I also want to become an elite world champ and overall world cup winner one day, but for now, my focus is to have fun, and grow as a rider and person.”

What has been the most challenging part of 2022?

“I’m not entirely sure. I tried to take everything 2022 had to offer with a grain of salt and treat it as a learning experience so I didn’t find it all too challenging. Leaving home and everything I’ve ever known to go out into the big wide world was challenging though, as well as meeting new people and being in places where being in bare feet was frowned upon – in other words, being in foreign countries where people didn’t understand me, or my mannerisms was definitely hard.”

We also got the chance to speak to Hastings’ proud mum. When asked how she felt about Hastings’ success in 2021 and 2022 she said: “It has been surreal! She was incredibly fortunate to be invited to ride at Crankworx Rotorua and the Summer Series in 2021 during Covid. The success she had here definitely helped with getting her shot with the Pivot Factory Racing Team. We have always thought she was capable, but to see her do so well in her first year overseas has been amazing. Rupert (Jenna’s dad) managed to get to Leogang and got to enjoy her first podium (2nd) and be part of Crankworx Innsbruck. I was lucky enough to be in Let Gets for her World Champs win.”

Ahead of Crankworx Rotorua, we asked Hastings what her favourite track to ride at home was. “I love them all. The downhill track is up there at the moment with all the new changes and the native trails – tuhoto-ariki, hatupatu and tihi-o-tawa always hold a special place in my heart, and I always enjoy riding those trails.”

Hastings is set to compete in the Taniwha Downhill, RockShox Rotorua Downhill, Specialized Dual Slalom Rotorua and Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by Torpedo7 at the upcoming Crankworx Rotorua. Make sure to tune in live on Red Bull TV.