17-year-old Jackson Goldstone talks about his season so far, what's next and taking a break ... eventually
Seventeen-year-old Jackson Goldstone has been constantly on the move in 2021, not just hopping airports but hopping disciplines. One week after taking silver in his first ever Downhill World Cup in Leogang, he was at Crankworx Innsbruck competing in the whip-off, dual slalom and speed & style events, as well as winning DH gold. Then just a few days after winning gold in his second DH World Cup start in Les Gets, he was in La Thuile taking third in the Under-21 category at this his ever Enduro World Series race.
While he probably won’t be picking up a cross country bike any time soon, don’t rule out Goldstone in anything having to do with dirt and knobby tires.
Goldstone spoke to the Race Shop during a brief few days back at home in Squamish, British Columbia, about his plans for a second bloc of European racing, what life has been like as an up-and-coming young talent in mountain biking and his training plan, which includes, “riding blind tracks as fast as I can.”
The following conversations has been edited for clarity and length.
How are you feeling? This has been a year of a lot of firsts — first World Cup, first World Cup win, first and second EWS races — are you tired at all?
Jackson Goldstone: It’s definitely been a lot of riding. But I think I’ve slept well. A couple rest days here and there have definitely helped me get through the season. It’s been pretty sick. Finally getting to go to the World Cup races after being on the sidelines for so long feels really good.
Tell me about your first World Cup experience. Was it hectic or overwhelming? Or did it feel like any other race?
Goldstone: It was kind of a mix of both. It was one of the first races that I’ve had where I was racing against all the pros, and getting in the same practice times as them, so that side of it was sick and different to get used to. But I also wanted to treat it as a normal race as much as possible and just not put too much pressure on myself. So I kind of kept it in the middle, and it definitely helps kind of keep it more fun.
Finally getting to go to the World Cup races after being on the sidelines for so long feels really good.
Did you set goals sort of going into your first World Cup in Leogang, or were you just like, ‘I want to see what happens?’
Goldstone: Everyone has the goal to win, so I definitely had goals to do the best I can, and I had a couple benchmark people who I knew I was around, so I wanted to do well around those people. And in whatever I did, I wanted to feel like I did the best I could. Whatever result I was gonna be happy with. So yeah, it was a pretty good run. I mean, it was hard to make it down clean, so I’m happy.
And then obviously you got a gold medal a few weeks later, which is pretty cool. Why was that such a good run for you? Was it a good day, good training, a good course?
Goldstone: In Les Gets, it was my race the whole time. I mean, not mine — I was a second and a half back at first. But the track is pretty similar to Squamish, the dirt was really similar, so it was the same steepness and wide. The weather was good. I slept well the night before. [Laughs]. It kind of all lined up.
I had some good practice rounds before, because on my quali day I was a bit nervous about how much more I needed to push. And by the time I got the two practice rounds in the morning I was way more prepared. I ended up taking 14 seconds off my time or something like that. It was a pretty big difference.
What was your prep going into those World Cups? In your Unplugged video, it seemed pretty loosey goosey. Is that really how you train?
Goldstone: There’s a lot of training that we didn’t film, so like the stuff at the gym. I was going four or five times a week and riding pump track. I had a couple weeks where it was pretty full on before leaving, and it definitely helped prepare me for the races.
But it’s a bit of a different strategy than I was expecting for World Cups. There’s a lot less practice time than you’re expecting, so if you want to get comfortable with going super fast, it’s not like you have a couple days to do that. You’ve got to get used to the track in two laps, and then your third lap has to be pinned. So I think now with a little break, I’m going to practice on doing that more here, riding blind tracks as fast as I can. It sounds dangerous, but I think it’s really good training.
Walk me through your first EWS experience. Was enduro always something you had wanted to do? Had you done enduro races before?
Goldstone: Yeah, I’ve done a smaller one, not a full EWS. I’ve done one in Squamish here. But I was coming into the race as a ride with my friends, just to go have fun, and then go do some sick trails. The place was really sick, so I was kind of going for the experience more than the race. And I guess the racing mentality kicked in, and as soon as I heard the start beeps go, I pushed a little harder. And then I ended up third for the first one, which is pretty sick, even though I had a crash and a couple mechanicals.
It was a little different than I was expecting. I came in with the fun mentality, and then as the race started I switched it on.
I think now with a little break, I'm going to practice ... riding blind tracks as fast as I can. It sounds dangerous, but I think it's really good training.
How’d you do on the pedally bits?
Goldstone: Yeah, that was definitely where I struggled a bit more. I kind of had a little bit of a sniffle-cough the first day, so it just made the pedal even harder. And thankfully it was one of the better ones. There was a lot of lift access and stuff like that, so it wasn’t horrible, but definitely big days on the bike. I had the biggest nap I’ve ever had after racing.
It looked like you spent some time with RockShox Trek’s Jamie Edmondson. He has a fair bit of enduro experience. Did he pass along any wisdom to you?
Goldstone: Not too much. We kind of just joked around a bit and did some of the pedals together, but he was still my competition so he didn’t float too many ideas. Which was obviously fine. I read into the race and had some other friends that do EWS, so I got some tips from them. Riding with him is pretty fun. He’s a funny guy so it was cool to do the pedals with him.
You mentioned crashes. I think Stage 4 in the second race was particularly rough. What happened there?
Goldstone: That stage, I thought we had a bit of a break in between Stage 3 and 4. So I went back to the pits, had some apples with my mom, and then I realized, ‘Oh my god I have 20 minutes until my start time,’ and you have to take a lift and then you have to pedal a little higher. I’ve never sprinted so fast on a climb. I was just pedaling as hard as I could, and I made it with a couple of minutes to spare. So that kind of set me off a little bit into my last run.
And then the last stage had the big pedal, like in the middle of the stage, which is even harder. Trying to pedal in a race situation is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was just so tired, and then I went off track, and had to hike back up.
And then tried to keep going and save some energy for the bottom section, but it rained the night before. That one section was super slippery out of nowhere. So I slid there and my bike got caught in the tape. Then the guy behind me, Luke [Meier-Smith], who actually won the race, he passed me, so I was trying to cheer him on as I went, because I knew it was basically over for me at that point. And then I had another stupid crash in that rock garden.
It was definitely a good learning experience, knowing that I should be there for my start time and make sure I don’t mess up going uphill.
[Racing EWS] was definitely a good learning experience, knowing that I should be there for my start time and make sure I don't mess up going uphill.
Very wise. Do you think enduro is something you want to keep pursuing?
Goldstone: It’s tough because I decided to do it at the spur of the moment. I had an extra week in Europe and the timing was right, and a couple of my friends were going. I still see myself as a downhill racer and I don’t think I would switch over full time. But definitely if the time is right I would be keen to do a couple more of those because it was pretty fun.
Unless it’s only pedaling. I heard some of them are pretty gnarly when it’s only a pedaling race. I would die.
How much time have you spent overseas at this point?
Goldstone: I think the first trip was six or seven weeks. A pretty good chunk of time. I packed at the start of the trip to go for the whole summer because I wasn’t expecting the COVID regulations to free up over here, so I wasn’t expecting to come home. But I got double vaccinated, so it’s a lot easier getting home. But it was a sick trip. The rain was the only annoying thing, it kind of followed us everywhere. Coming back here it’s been really, really hot, so I’ve got to get used to that.
Being a young person who has gotten some public attention and notoriety, what’s that like for you?
Goldstone: Just seeing so many people come and meet me at the races, and seeing people look up to me has been really cool, because there are so many people that I’ve looked up to when I was a kid. It’s kind of cool to see, because it’s how I used to be when I was younger, too.
Likewise, what’s it like riding with many riders that you looked up to?
Goldstone: I mean for the last couple years I’ve been able to kind of go and see some of those guys and start to become friends with some of them. And I finally get to race them this year, so it’s been pretty cool to battle it out with the pro guys, even though I’m 15-20 seconds back. It’s so cool to do some fun racing and see where I compare.
Seeing people look up to me has been really cool, because there are so many people that I've looked up to when I was a kid.
What’s your what’s your schedule like from here on out?
Goldstone: I’m leaving for a week and a half trip to do some local races in the Calgary area. So I’ve got a week and a half there. Then Canadian Nationals, then I come back for four days after, and then I’m straight back to Europe for … I don’t know exactly. I have a week in Europe that I’m not too sure what’s gonna happen yet before Maribor [in August].
Basically it’s the Maribor World Cup, then World Champs, then Lenzerheide, and then Snowshoe. So it’s a pretty stacked schedule for the second bloc of racing here. And then after Snowshoe I might go to the U.S. Open in the States [in late September]. And then hopefully come home after that and maybe catch a little bit of the bike park.
When do you get to stay home, uninterrupted, and just ride or do anything else besides competition for a while?
Goldstone: I have four days after nationals where I get to chill. I think I’m gonna just not touch my bike. Maybe I’ll go to the bike park one day just for fun. And then I’m back in Europe. And it’s looking like this fall I’m gonna have a nice chunk of time where I’m just gonna relax, maybe go for a little road trip, do some camping, and do some non-biking stuff because it’s been a busy summer.