Grom Nation | Interview : Australia’s Mitch Thompson
It’s easy to get caught up on what’s happening all around us. The flow of information on the internet helps us to know who the best skaters are, and which local brands and businesses support shredders in our neighbourhoods. Last week we reached out to our main man Rob McWhinnie in Australia to find out what kind of DH Skaters his homeland is producing at the moment. He was quick to answer, “Mitch Thompson”.
Interview and Photos by Rob McWhinnie
Over the last decade Australia has produced some of the fastest grommets the DH world has seen, most recently giving birth to the 2 time junior world champ Connor Ferguson, but also the likes of Kelly Carter and Gabe Gwyne who had taken the world by storm and continue to destroyed thane to this day around the globe.
Its not easy being a grom in Aus, we treat them like dish pigs till the age of 18. Barking at the youngsters to ride faster, harder and respect their elders. Every so often in Sydney we come across kids who are insanely talented. Threatening our ranks by stepping their game up. Its at this point we beat them down again, testing their strength of will, maturity and dedication to sport.
I grew personally up in Bathurst, New South Wales, a small country town on the edge of the Great Dividing Range. Went to school then got a job in the big smoke. I came home every few months for family and training on the world renowned Mt Panorama. I remember hearing over the years of a small DH crew starting in my home town . Until last year, I had never met up with the guys. I had heard a lot about one of the riders though.
Mitch Thompson has live in Bathurst for 17 years, is about to start his final year of school and recently became the Australian Junior DH Champion. He has been traveling to Sydney for a while, hitting up the outlaw series year round and regularly sticking it to the fastest groms on the circuit.
Mitch – Well I went to school with a few guys that started longboarding. They created a group called ‘Bathurst Bomb squad’. I watched some of their videos and knew I had to try it. I bought a board later that year and was taken under the wing of Morgan Holland, his patience and persistence with me is what made me continue skating. He pushed me to get to his level and then eventually pushed me to start racing.
Rob – Now that your won the gromet nationals do you feel that the next step is the opens or is the grom field still competitive enough?
Mitch – Being top grom you gotta hold that title and keep winning races, The grommet field in Australia is probably the most competitive and expansive field in the world. The grommets here aren’t push overs and anyone of them can beat an opens rider. So the grom field is certainly competitive enough, but sadly age is something you can’t choose and I only have a limited time left to get more podiums. I love the competition in the opens division, it’s definitely a step up and its one that I think I can do, So I may as well start competing in that division now and gain some experience for the years to come.
The name Mt Panorama used to bring fear and adrenalin into a riders eyes at just the mention, lined with concrete walls and steeper and tighter then you can imagine, it was a world class race track. A pilgrimage for Aussie riders to attend each year and a badge of honor to have rode. Mitch missed all that hooha and refers to the hill as his “local”, slipping in early morning runs he has a speed threshold every other grom in Australia would kill for. I dare say this has something to do with his current ability’s.
Rob – 7 years ago Newtons nation first came to town, a pilgrimage for riders all over the world to one of the fastest gnarliest races on the world tour, did you see the races back then or knew about it?
Mitch – When Newtons Nation rolled into town I went just to lurk hard and see the whole festival, but I was really pulled in by the downhill racing. I Watched it all weekend, I was stoking so hard over how fast they were going. A lot has changed since those early events. I even remember watching it in the rain one year and just seeing all the gnarly stacks over the years. By 2013 I was well into longboarding so the last newtons burns brightest in my mind. I was lurking around the riders tents trying to pick up any scrubbies I could find.
Rob – You have picked up a few sponsors already and have many podiums under your belt, what are the plans for 2015? School should be your main priority at this age but where do you want to take your longboarding carer?
Mitch – Well going into my final year of school is going to make racing tough, but an achievable goal. Sure I want to do great in my exams but I don’t want to back off riding too much. I’ve already rego’d for Kaikoura longboard festival in New Zealand, which is their premier event. I want to do Whistler and Maryhill but there’s a lot of work ill need to do to build towards even getting there. After school I want to do a skate gap year. I want to do all the major IDF races around the world and try to land some podiums. I really just want to get out of Australia and skate some rad hills with some rad people, spreading the stoke across the globe and bringing it all the way back to straya.
Rob – To win the championship this year you had to travel down to Victoria, into the Yarra Ranges for the sanctioned DH event, I missed it but i heard it was cold, fast and pretty awesome. Tell us quickly how the race went down bro.
Mitch – The race at Yarra was rad, the track was perfect, lovely pavement, flowing corners and some good drafting between racers. The track was 3kms long and in the dry it got up to 85-90km/hr. Unfortunately rain set in overnight and continued in the morning, I knew from the beginning my main competition would be Tyron Knight. We met up in the semis and sized each other up, drafting each other to the finish. The finals came around and the fog was thicker than ever before, I pushed off leading Tyron Knight, Ty Barta and Bailey Willingham. Ty overshot the second corner and blew it into the bails. I lead almost half of the 3km track before Tyron caught my draft and took over. I followed him for a while waiting for a good slingshot out, I dove down the inside of one of the tight righty’s and stuck it. I came across the line looked back and their Tyron was less than 2 meters behind me.
Mitch finishes school next year and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing a lot more of him. If you line up against him at a race one day, just remember what he rides for breakfast and don’t give the gromet an inch!
My last main supporter would have to be my family. My nam would take me up to Mount Panorama after school each day and follow me down and pick me up and go again. My parents. They drive me anywhere. The usual race is 3 hours away and they will make that trip for me. They drove 10hrs to get me to the nationals at Yarra. THANK YOU!
Mitch’s Set Up of Choice
Ronins Pro Lites 174mm 40/40
Venom 90a/93a & DH/80a kegels