Downhill mountain biker Mark Scott has reason to be optimistic ahead of the new season as he prepares to jet off to Spain for his first training camp of 2012.
The Edinburgh teenager’s induction in the Elite Men’s World Cup series saw him end last year firmly in the world’s top 100. A strenuous and demanding schedule pitched the youngster, who placed 64th in the series, in the thick of intense competition upon some of the most challenging terrains across the globe. However, after competing in both the junior and men’s elite levels last year, Scott will begin the new season in just over two months as a top-category performer.
Scott, 18, said: “It was daunting when I first came on to the men’s circuit last year but I have got to know a lot more about the guys I’m competing against so I feel a bit more relaxed. I can no longer enter junior competitions due to my age but this is the level I want to be involved at. When you break into the top 40 or 50 in the world it gets really tough but that’s what making the step up is all about.
“I’ve learnt a lot from last season and competing against the top riders in the world has really helped me. The season prior to last year I was crashing a lot and my head wasn’t really with it, so I feel I’ve progressed. I feel more comfortable and know I can adapt to competing at this level.”
Scott has made considerable strides into the biking circuit, competing in national and international competitions which run from March through to October. Despite his relative inexperience amongst the sport’s elite, the former Portobello High student is confident that annual progression can land him a full-time career behind the handlebars.
“I certainly want to keep having a go at it. I achieved some higher qualifications before I left school last summer so I have that to fall back on and university is something I’ve been thinking about. The top British rider is 36 and he’s still in the top ten in the world so I’ve hopefully still got a few years ahead. I want to start earning a living from it but we’ll see what happens.”
One minor setback for the 18-year-old has been the decision of his team, Maxxis Rocky Mountain, to withdraw their involvement in downhill biking competition to make way for a slot in this year’s Tour de France, a move that has temporarily left Scott without an affiliated team for next season. However, he is in negotiations with a number of interested parties and the team that acquires his signature will have a very ambitious and determined individual.
“I want to make sure it’s the right decision where I go so hopefully it can be sorted out before the end of the month. I want to push into the top 20 or 30 in the world and go from there. I know what I can do and there’s a lot going to be happening with both the World Cup and World Championships.”
Scott’s heightened profile has resulted in an increase in sponsorship deals. Riding in two different categories last year has not only provided an opportunity to showcase his skills more often but his displays reinforced his potential of becoming one of the world’s top downhill mountain bikers.
He added: “I am getting more sponsorship deals so the expenses are beginning to decrease now. I don’t really have to worry about my bike which, before, was so costly. I’ve been back working in the gym since November to get my strength back up so I’ve only really had a month off since the end of last season. It’s a sprint sport so you need as much power as you can to get you through.”