Ellie overcomes injury to head to Europe

Downhill mountain biker Eliana Hulsebosch doing what she loves. Photo: Cam Mackenzie.

A Tauranga 16-year-old who broke her back in 2023’s downhill mountain biking national championships has this year used the same competition to book a spot in an overseas World Series in her chosen sport.

Te Kura correspondence school student Eliana Hulsebosch fractured her back competing at the New Zealand DH National Championships in 2023.

Fast-forward to February this year – and she won the Junior Women’s title in the same competition with a time of 3:11.58.

Now, Ellie has been signed by a team to head to Europe in April for the 2024 UCI Mountain Bike World Series and World Championship.

Seven races, seven countries 

“There are seven races in the World Series circuit and World Championships, which are based in seven countries across Europe and in Canada,” says Eliana – known as Ellie.

She will compete in the Downhill section of the competitions – at Fort William in Scotland from May 3-5, Bielsko-Biała in Poland from May 17-19, Leogang in Austria from June 7-9, Val di Sole in Italy from June 14-16 and Haute-Savoie in France from June 25-July 7.

She then heads to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at Pal Arinsal/Vallnord in Andorra from August 28-September 1, then back onto the World Series circuit in Loudenvielle, France, from September 6-8, and finally heads to Canada’s Mont-Saint-Anne from October 4-6.

“It will be my first year as a Junior so I’m just going to try and soak up as much knowledge from others as I can and do my best in the races,” says Ellie, who flies with teammate Lachie Stevens-Mcnab to meet the rest of her team in Italy for a preseason team camp before the first race in Scotland.

Back to the February race, Ellie did better than she expected – versing the three best Junior women riders in the world.

“It was really nerve-racking but I just did my best.

"[I] Made a few mistakes but I was so proud of the progress from last year...I was so pumped on improving that I just had heaps of fun and it was a good bonus to get the win.”

Ellie, who admits the sport is not for the faint-hearted – “sometimes you have to hold on and pray that you make it through a gnarly section” – is motivated by her progress every day.

“Someone who I like to listen to talk about work ethic is Kobe Bryant [the late American professional basketball player], and his interviews really help me work hard when I don’t want to.”


Racing mountain bikes since the age of 10, Ellie reckons she’s super lucky to get picked by a team for 2024’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar as it means less stress to place at NZ races.

“To qualify you either have to go to races that provide certain points depending on how you place – the other way is to get picked by a team,” says Ellie, who now trains 10 times a week.

“My training is specified to focus on my weaknesses as hard as that is, and every few months it changes to ramp up leading into the World Series season.

“The main goals are to learn as much as possible, have fun and eventually be the best in the world for Elite women.

“I just love the sport. Being out in nature and riding with no worries with your mates is the best feeling.

I get to challenge myself and see myself grow, which is a pretty cool feeling,” says Ellie, who thanks her parents “for being supportive through all my riding, training and races and our local mountain bike community who have fostered my love for mountain biking”.

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