Reece joined BASE as (and I’m sure he’d be okay with me saying this) a hot headed, all or nothing rider looking to blow minds and win races… that’s not how it went. With a motocross background and mindset towards racing, there’s no denying Reece is and always has been a highly competitive person. The beginning of his career in downhill was plagued with injuries however. Our head Coach Andy recalls “The first time I saw Reece ride at College he was sitting down, hitting turns with his leg out moto style…” He had a long journey ahead of him!
After joining our BASE programme and sitting himself under the wing of former Junior World Champion Ruaridh Cunningham, he was well on his way however. It doesn't go without saying though, that like many athletes, he has faced some extremely hard periods in his career. I asked Ruaridh about their relationship from past to present and to touch on how he thinks a programme like BASE can help guide young riders to achieve their goals:
“The first time I saw Reece riding it was clear to me there was something special. His confidence and comfort at speed were incredible and not something you’d expect to see in such an inexperienced rider.
After some promising results in the mini DH series I encouraged him to join the BASE programme which allowed him to train and develop under my watchful eye more regularly, as well as ride with other aspiring young riders on the course.
His transformation over the 2 years at BASE were testament to his dedication and desire to learn and improve. Rain or shine he was always there and often joined me for extra training afterwards.
Since his progression from BASE, he maintained the work ethic and continued to develop as a rider and athlete in his professional career. Always looking for ways to improve his technique, to where he’s become one of the world’s best. From that “moto kid” who showed up at BASE in 2013 to your 2020 world champion is an incredible journey and something I’m very proud to have been a part of.”
The BASE course was originally set up to create a performance programme to support and guide young riders within the sport while giving them a qualification at the end of it. It is designed to teach not only technical skills but also a positive, problem solving attitude towards any adversity. Reece’s meticulous attention to detail made him stand out in his early days and he continued to grow as an athlete through the two years he spent on the course with Dirt School and Borders College.
To see the dedication and commitment Reece put into his riding while at BASE start to really pay off in 2018 with his fourth place finish in Fort William and now to back it up with his performance in Leogang to win the World Championships is truly inspirational.
The progression and successes that Reece and many other of our students have shown is no surprise but more an emphasis on the ethos of Dirt School. I would like to personally congratulate Reece on his win and on overcoming some incredible battles physically and mentally to achieve his goals. It took a better man than me to deal with these things and come out on top. We are very proud to have been a small piece of your puzzle. Well played Reece, from myself and all the team at Dirt School!
We would also like to give a special shout to familiar faces; former BASE student Greg Williamson who finished in seventh, Fort William based Mikayla Parton in fifth and Tweed Valley local Isla Short’s fifth place finish in the cross country.
Innes.Photo Credit: Matt DeLorme