Rolling to the Head of the Class - The Finn Iles Interview
Every kid looks forward to their high school graduation. It represents the commencement of adulthood (at least in the eyes of society) when teenagers begin to decide what to do with their lives. For Finn Iles, that decision was made years ago somewhere on trails of the Whistler Bike Park. He wants to ride bikes for a living, and while he's successfully graduated high school, he won't be donning a mortarboard cap with his class mates for the farewell to the class of 2016/17. He'll instead have his full face helmet firmly affixed while charging down trails at Mach Chicken speed to defend his title as UCI Downhill World Champion.
Joystick's content writer Vince Shuley caught up with Finn while he was back in his hometown of Whistler during a brief hiatus from the racing season.
Finn's high school graduation garb. Photo Remi Fabregue
Vince: You're back into the World Cup racing season now for 2017, what kept you busy over the winter months?
Finn: At the start of the winter I was hanging out at home (in Whistler), riding and going to school. When I got into November and December, training started to ramp up but there was a lot of snow so I couldn't really ride that much. I ended up skiing quite a bit and tried to focus on finishing high school. After that I did a training camp in California for a couple of weeks to get back on the bike. I also flew over to New Zealand for two weeks of testing the my new Specialized Demo at Crankworx Rotorua and getting it dialed in for the first World Cup (in Lourdes, France). We had a new suspension sponsor Ohlins for this year so we needed to make sure it was set up correctly before the World Cups started.
Eyes on the prize. And the leader board. Photo Remi Fabregue
Vince: You came out of Lourdes with your first win of the season with a time that would have ranked you fifth against the Elite Men. Are you feeling good heading into the 2017 World Cup circuit?
Finn: I'm feeling really good with how things are going so far. I won at Lourdes last year so I wanted to return and take the win again. I felt like I was riding really well all week and felt super comfortable on my bike. Everything worked out and I have a lot of confidence coming into the rest of the season.
Vince: You move into Elite Mens next year, are those guys preparing themselves for new talent in their category?
Finn: There's a few good juniors this year so they'll definitely be looking out for them next year. I don't know if it will be 2018, but if I keep progressing in the next few years I'll be able to put some stress on those guys.
Elite Men, he's coming for you. Photo Michal Cerveny
Vince: Any highlights of the season so far?
Finn: Yeah, after Lourdes we went up to Scotland for a week. It was sunny the whole time and it's such a beautiful place. It was good just to ride my bike, have fun and enjoy the scenery and culture rather than having to just focus on the World Cup.
Vince: You're going to miss your high school graduation and prom, how do you feel about that?
Finn: Prom and graduation is so big in North America. I wish I could go, but I'll be in Europe living the dream so it's hard to complain about that.
Finn chasing teammate Loic Bruni on training day at Lourdes. Photo Michal Cerveny
Vince: It's another season for you racing alongside Loic Bruni on the Specialized Gravity Team, how has it been working and travelling together?
Finn: Loic and I get along really well. He's definitely one of the fastest guys in the world and someone I look up to. He's easy going and really good to have on the team. I've been getting some great advice from him on my racing and I think it'll help me a lot this year.
Finish line fist bumps at Crankworx Rotorua. Photo Sebastian Schieck
Vince: What are you looking forward to the most with the upcoming Word Cup races?
Finn: I think Leogang (Austria) is one of my better tracks on the circuit. It's my third year there so I feel really comfortable on it. There's also a lot of support for racing from the federations and spectators, I see that in Lenzerheide (Switzerland) as well. They love it.
Andorra is probably my favourite stop on the circuit. The track is super steep and really fast. I think it suits my riding style the most.
I'm also looking forward to Mont-Sainte-Anne. It's a prestigious track and I'd love to get a win there because it's in Canada and they've been hosting that World Cup race for 25 years now.
Starting the World Cup season with a win at Lourdes. Photo Remi Fabregue
The crew at Joystick wish Finn and the Specialized Gravity Team all the best for 2017 UCI World Cup Downhill season. Check back soon for more updates!