By Bec “Wombat” Werner
Short of the strong Aussie accent and overuse of word such as ‘toppie’ and ‘stoked’, you could be forgiven for thinking that young Vanderkitten rider Jazzy Hurikino was a NorCal local. Now in her third summer in the Bay Area, and seond season with the Vanderkitten/Focus team, Jazzy is off to a cracker of a start this summer. With some strong team riding at Sea Otter, an impressive 9th place at GP Gatineau and the win at the prestigious Cat’s Hill Classic, for the second time after taking out the title in 2010, it appears that this kitten may be the queen of Cats. As the team traverses the country for a bumper couple months of racing, we caught up with Jazzy to get to know this ‘local’ a little better, and find out what is in store for this Queen of Cats and the litter of Kittens.
I like Cats hill so much as it has very challenging terrain from the hill to the false flat on the top. Just such a challenging course that can be very underestimated.
Which win was better, the first or second time?
Have to say the second one was better and I got to share the win with 5 other team mates.
What kind of rider do you see yourself as, and what is your role in the team?
I see myself as an aggressive rider who likes to take risks and daring moves. I see it as I would rather be off the front than in the field floating around where I’m never going to get noticed. I want to be known as a selfless rider who sacrifice anything and everything for any leader in my team. Therefore when it’s my turn be the leader my riders will want to return what I did for them. My role in the team is being a domestique and a leader in some races that suit me as well.
In most races we see you riding your heart out for the team, was it the plan that Cat’s Hill would be your race?
The plan was always to work for me at Cat’s Hill as I had previously won it 2 years ago and really wanted to have another opportunity to win it again. I was very grateful to the team to work for me as hard as I had worked for them in other races. Felt like a real team win. It didn’t feel like I had won it individually.
What have you learned from racing with pros like KCM and Bridie OD?
The major things would have to be of course have fun, and that do your best you can’t go exceptional and every race and sometimes you have a bad day and that is completely normal. I think most young riders forget that including myself a few years ago.
This is your third year in the Bay Area. How did you come to be here in the first place?
I love this place from the group rides, to the friends you meet along the way. I would say the main thing that brings me back every year is the friendship I have with my host family and the weather of course. Can’t beat the weather in California. I first came over because an up and coming local team needed some riders and I had decided to take a chance, break outside my little bubble and go for it. I loved it from the first few weeks and my 3 month trip soon turned into a 6 month trip.
What is your favourite NorCal ride?
Favourite route in NorCal would be the ride to Pascadero. Can’t beat coming back over Tinitus when you are buckled.
How important is it for an Aussie rider to go overseas?
I think it is crucial for Aussies to get over to the US or Europe. To get the exposure to big fields and big bunches. You just don’t get that in Australia.
What advice would you now give to an 18 year old you before coming to the US?
Have fun and enjoy the ride life gives!
Where are you from in Australia and how does it compare to living here?
I live in Brisbane, Queensland. I honestly would prefer to live here in the US if I could and if Green cards weren’t so hard to get. Although in saying that I do love having my family and friends back home. Here the quality of riding is much better and less traffic on the roads which is always better and safer.
What’s one Aussie thing you pack in your bag every time you come?
The one thing from Aus that I would bring would have to be Vegemite of course (god’s gift to the world). The one thing from here I would bring home would be Simple green (that stuff is magic) Pretzel M&M’s and of course an In and Out burger.
Who on Vanderkitten keeps everyone entertained in the VK Van?
Everyone in the team has their own attributes on the road; from Maura’s crazy ADD dancing, to Kate’s Maori faces she pulls at her passing boyfriends, and Emily’s kindness and patience keeps the team in line. So I would definitely have to say this team has plenty of laughs on the road to keep us well entertained.
Favourite or most interesting place?
My most favourite place I have visited would have to be Philly, as nothing compares to the craziness on the Manyunk wall. Most interesting place I would have visited this year would be St. Louis, Missouri. I may have been a bit scared for my life riding home from some of the crits.
What’s in store for you and the VK crew for the next few months
We have a big few months in store. We’ve already been to Tour de Grove and Gatineau. We then move on to Philly, Tulsa, Nature Valley and some of us continue on to TOAD.
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