Recently we had a great conversation with Chris Kovarik, a multiple Australian national champion and multiple World Cup winner. Enjoy the interview!
Why did you decide to move to Whistler?
I met Claire Buchar in whistler in 2005/2006, we then started a relationship and we’ve now been married for 8 years so this is part of the reason we base ourselves in Whistler.
Whistlers facilities and trails are second to none with such a diverse skill levels of trails, it has enabled us both to be able to also coach in the bike park and develope a bunch of up and coming riders over the years.
The community of Whistler is pretty cool, most people young and old are into riding/hiking/being outdoors or snow sports for e.g. depending on the seasons, its a positive place to be in the mountains.
How many bikes do you have and which one is your favourite?
I have 4 bikes. An intense hardtail Tazer, a carbine 29’er, a tracer 27.5, and the M16 DH bike.
Thats a hard pick but id have to say my M16 at the moment, i just love to nose wheelie that thing!
Can you present us the bike check of your favourite bike
M16 specs- DT Swiss FR1950 wheels, Vittoria Mota tyres size 2.5, 7 speed sram drivetrain, E.13 36 tooth ring, XO derailleur, E.13 LG1 carbon chain guide, E.13 LG1R 165mm cranks.
Magura MT7 limited edition brakes, Chromag 50mm stem, Chromag carbon bizza bars 25mm rise 800mm wide, Chromag grips, Chromag Lynx seat, Chromag seat post. Fox 40 forks, Fox DHX2 rear shock, Chunked flat pedals.
What are your plans for upcoming season?
Claire and i will travelling to all the BC cups to race along with our rider development team of 5 young riders. Claire and i will also be driving across BC with an intense truck and trailer with a fleet of demo bikes, we will be visiting intense dealers along the way to manage demo rides to showcase a range of different models of intense bikes.
In between this schedule i usually coach in the bike park to fill the gaps, this consists of privates and groups, i also have a handful of little shredders between the ages 6 to 10 years old i coach with on our summer programs.
Claire works at the chromag factory when were back in whistler. We both try and manage to make some video edits when theres time also.
Can you give us some insight into Kovarik Racing? Any plans?
We started Kovarik Racing as a brand we could both race under as privateers at the time. We started the coaching shortly after as a way to give back and to, create,mentor and develope young riders from the knowledge we have from racing. We really enjoy seeing riders progress and we’ve had some talented riders we’ve helped along the way as such- Remy Morton, Jack and Finn Isles.
Basically our riders buy into a small program where we offer 2 intense bikes each DH and trail bike. In return they receive pit space and support at the races which include- Track walk, line choice, bike set up, suspension set up etc. and also coaching camps skills and drills during the season with claire and i.
Our plan is to keep growing kovarik racing and see what it can build into.
What is your favourite track?
Im not sure if i have a favourite track but i will say mt st anne is a hard one to beat, it has a great crowd and atmosphere and is a fast rough track, its a track they call the mans track.
I did like Kaprun austria back in the early 2000’s, as that track had the best wide open grassy, undulating rollers and fast sections down to the finish!
Arai mtn in japan back in 2001 was also a favourite of mine. It started out a little technical and steep then opened up into the super high speed ski field where the track was just dry and dusty foot out flat out turning left to right down to the finish. Im into the steeper high speed tracks.
What was the best moment in your carrier up to date?
My 14 second win at fort william in 2002 was definitely a massive moment for sure. I would have to say my win in 2006 at mt st anne was the best feeling.
Id broke my leg in a motorbike accident in october 2003, i missed the 2004 world cup season and spent 6 months on crutches healing up.
I came back to the WC circuit in 2005 but wasn’t as fit as i could be. In 2006 i came back and won the mt st anne world cup, to me this was the best moment as i had come back from such a badly broken ankle and worked so hard to come back and to beat nicholas vouliouz, steve peat, minnar and the guys who were the favourites was really satisfying.
Can you tell us few words about your amazing black off-road car? It looks amazing especially for European fans!
Its a 1996 toyota hilux 4 door 2.4 litre petrol that i have owned for 8 years, it takes us up the mtn when we shuttle DH runs, or having a play off road. Ive put a 3 inch suspension lift in it and also a 2 inch body lift, 2 inch wheel spacers, 33x12x15 tyres, front and rear diff locks, my buddy also made the custom front bar.
It regularly gets a thrashing but takes us to some wicked places.
Intense beach drift lol 😉 ;0 Where will your intense take you this weekend?!! @intensecycles @foxmtb @fox @magura_official @dtswiss @smithoptics @fiveten_official @chromagbikes @e13_components @intense_cycles_aus @chunkedmtb @unior_tools @cliffbarcompany @nsdynamicsmtb @fortheridersmtb @vittoriatires
Which type of MTB you practice more often? Enduro or Downhill? Why?
When I’m based in whistler i am on my DH bike more often as that is what i am racing and coaching on.
I do get a little time on my trail bikes in whistler after the season finishes in october. Back home in australia i spend more time on my trail bikes as we don’t have the facilities for much DH around.
Its just a lot easier for me to get out on my trail bikes during the week, usually if were organised we get out on our Dh bikes on the weekend as there are a lot more friends and people we know that we can shuttle up the mtn with.
What do you do in the off-season?
For me i really haven’t had an off season since i broke my leg in 2003. Once the summer of racing/riding/traing finishes here in australia i head to whistler to start over there.
In saying that i do get a lot more spare time here in australia where i do like catching up with friends and family, I’m also on my computer a lot talking to sponsors or negotiating. Im a fan of off roading and crawling up bush tracks, working on and building cars.
I’ve always had drift cars of some sort so i like to get to the drift track when i can and practice that. I like to escape the craziness sometimes so claire and i will go out bush camping or go to the beach and chill.
What are your bets for Downhill World Champion this season?
Troy Brosnan/ Loic bruni/ danny hart will still be feeling confident after his champs win, its so close to pick!
What’s the difference between trails in Canada and Australia?
Ive said this before that most of the trails I’ve ridden outside the bike park of whistler are a lot more advanced and challenging than our DH tracks in Australia.
Our trails in australia are mainly dry and hard packed that usually turn to dust more often than not. Trails in Canada I’ve found have all the broken down elements of the trees, the bark, the leaves, the branches etc. that make most of the trails have this unreal loamy dark dirt!
What was the most unique place you have ever ridden your bike?
In 2006/2007 ish there was an invitational race in budapest, hungary.
The race was featured in the city train subway at about 11 clock at night where they shut down the trains for 4 hours so we could race.
Riders battled head to head and had to ride a course marked down escalators and slide around shiny concrete corners to the finish. That experience was cool, it was a place i never thought id get to visit or let alone ride my bike in an old subway!
What are your sponsors for upcoming season?
Intense cycles. Fox suspension. Fox clothing. Dt swiss. Magura. Fiveten. Chromag. E.thirteen. Smith optics. Vittoria tyres. Unior bike tools. Cliff bar. Chunked. Evolution bike shop whistler.
Do you make a living on the bike?
I have made a living most of my career since 2000.
Although I have had a couple rough years in the middle where I’ve gone back concreting with my father while back in Australia, that was good for me as it gives you a taste of normality and you appreciate making a living riding your bike again. Claire and i both make a living together its a team effort for sure!
How often do you ride?
Im on my bike about 5 out of 7 days weather that be trail bikes or dh bikes, weather i ride trails or spin on the road depends on what my schedule is like during the day.
Spending this much time on my bike and living summer to summer has really helped keep my skills up but also help prolong my career as a rider and racer.