The World Cup DH season kicks off in a few weeks, and the excitement level is building. In advance of it, we sat down with the GOAT Greg Minnaar for a quick check in to find out how he’s feeling about the upcoming season.
Q: You’ve had some relatively serious injuries the last few years, including a crash in 2022 that put you in a neck brace for a few months. How does that affect your mentality going into this season?
A: To be honest, I definitely did have some thoughts about it on my first few rides back, but as soon as you are on the bike and looking at the track ahead, those thoughts seem to vanish. I'm sure that Reece knows about visualization. The thoughts will come back, but I've done the preparation and I've worked hard and recovered fully, so I've done a lot to conquer these bad thoughts.
Q: Do you feel like you are having to push beyond your limits to run the pace and that is causing the crashes?
A: I’m definitely having to push harder than before. The pace today is super high. But these crashes seem to be happening in training, and so to me, it's put down to lack of concentration rather than pushing the limits.
Q: There was some talk in the off-season of you getting some fairly significant offers from other teams. What kept you on the Syndicate?
A: Reserve wheels.
Q: Are you making more salary-wise than at any other point in your career?
A: Yea, there seems to be a fair bit more money in the sport right now
Q: You have a bit of a reputation for being demanding on mechanics and challenging for teammates. Do you think this is a fair assessment?
A: Well, that all depends on what you think is a fair assessment. I've put a lot of time and effort into training and making sure that I'm 100% ready to race. If I've had an injury, I've made sure that I have recovered as best as I can, and if not, I will still be on the start line to give 100%. And that's what I expect out of my bike: that it's prepared and 100% ready. Off the bike, I like having a bit of fun challenging my teammates in activities we are doing. I guess we can never escape the competition. When I race, I race to do my best. But if I can help a teammate along the way, that brings real satisfaction to me.
Q: Your teammate Jackson Goldstone has the level of talent that reminds us of a young Greg Minnaar. Seeing the new generation like Jackson, how does it affect your mentality about your future racing career?
A: I think Jackson is a way-more talented young GM, but our similarities are we know how to race. I feel this new generation of riders, who grew up on DH bikes and had access to bike parks, have a feeling of knowing how to race…this is deadly.
Q: You are known for being a super serious athlete, but you’ve also been known to let your hair down after the races? You are getting older and are married now. Do you see that changing?
A: I'm competitive and I love racing. I've always felt that I've never had the skill of my other competitors, so I put in the extra time at races to make sure I could keep up. This is the stressed out GM, who is under pressure to make sure he’s in the mix. Generally I’m more laid back or social and I don’t think my social side will ever change.
Q: Will we see Greg Minnaar racing World Cups in 2024?
A: In some form or other, I will be racing international events.
Q: What does the perfect 2023 season look like for you? And what would you give the likelihood of achieving the goal?
A: It's been a bit of a rough start, but I feel I'm back on track and have made the right decisions on training and set up on my new bike to make sure that I'll be ready. This off-season has been long, but I'm ready to get off the brakes in Lenzerheide.
Q: What do you plan to do after you finish racing World Cups?
A: Not 100% sure just yet, but I would still like to be involved in racing.
Q: What would you say would be the greatest impact you have had on the sport?
A: Probably riding the 29 inch wheel in downhill racing.
Q: What has been the highlight of your racing career?
A: Winning the World cChampionship on possibly the toughest track we race on at Val Di Sole.
Q: What about the lowest moment?
A: Losing the World Cup overall in 2017.
Q: Most people don’t realize that you used to do events like Red Bull Rampage. Would you consider doing Rampage or an event like Red Bull Hardline today?
A: I don't think so. I went to Hardline a couple years ago, and man it was impressive what these guys are doing. I’m loving my off season way too much these days.