PRESS RELEASE: Kelly McGarry Foundation
The Kelly McGarry Spirit Award was first presented in 2016 and was designed to honour a rider at Red Bull Rampage who truly embodied Kelly’s loving personality, positivity, and perseverance. The award also holds the unique designation as the only one handed out at the event that is solely voted on by the athletes and diggers. This year, for the first time, the award included flights and accommodations to attend the 3rd annual McGazza Fest in Queenstown, New Zealand for the winner.
Kelly taking home the 2nd place trophy at the 2013 Red Bull Rampage. Photo: Paris Gore
Kelly’s presence at Rampage was much like it was in Queenstown - larger than life, positive beyond belief, and a force to be reckoned with. From his 72-foot canyon backflip to some of the hits that he took during practice, Kelly’s performances always had the audience in awe. “I think the location and the straight up epic-ness of the comp are what keep me coming back,” said Kelly in a 2015 interview. “It's really cool to look around when you are up there digging or riding and appreciate where you are. I feel pretty lucky to get invited.” At home, his edits and competitions helped to put Queenstown on the map, his hard work contributed to building and maintaining now-famous riding spots like Wynward and Gorge Road, and he never missed the opportunity to tour visiting riders around. His absence is felt acutely in both communities.
Kelly's famous 72-foot canyon gap at Red Bull Rampage in 2013. Photo: Paris Gore
The award was developed the year that Kelly passed but it also came at a time when the athletes at Rampage needed to be united. “There was a little bit of bad blood after last year's event,” said Todd Barber in a 2016 interview, “and we figured, 'let's get it back to the core,' and everybody will embrace [Kelly’s] spirit.” That year, things changed, the athletes took a page from Kelly’s book; working together, supporting each other, and avoiding the drama that had plagued the previous year’s competition. “We almost just gave it to everybody, we were almost going to produce twenty-one!”
Conor MacFarlane winning the first ever Kelly McGarry Spirit Award in 2016. Photo: Paris Gore
PEF taking home the unique award last year. Photo: Trevor Lyden
The first winner of the award was Conor McFarlane. “Conor had some pretty hard crashes in the last three days and he got up and kept on riding. He’s covered in blood and his elbows are bleeding, but he kept riding just like Kelly,” said Matt McGarry, Kelly’s brother, shortly after presenting the award in 2016.
Last year he handed the unique trophy – a laminated image of Kelly during one of his iconic moments at Rampage with an embossed title plate – to Pierre-Edouard Ferry. “When they asked me to go to the finals corral I was like – 'I’m 16th or something,' so I didn’t really know why,” said PEF at the time. “And then I realized it was for this award. They started asking me questions and stuff – and obviously I started crying because Kelly was like my brother and I really love him so much. For me, it means more than winning. I’m really, really happy about it.”
This year’s award went to Brendan Fairclough. “It’s amazing! I managed to ride with Kelly one time here back in the day and just to get that spirit award is pretty cool. He’s a guy I will always remember,” said Fairclough.
Brendan Fairclough receiving the 2018 Kelly McGarry Spirit Award. Photo: Rene Van Wonderen
Brendan charging his line at this year's Red Bull Rampage.
Photos: Rene Van Wonderen
McGazza Fest is next month in Queenstown - the winter training ground for northern hemisphere riders. Unfortunately, Brendan is unable to attend but the line up already includes Carson Storch, Reece Wallace, Reed Boggs, and Remy Morton.
All 2018 McGazza Fest photos are by Cam Woods.
Some of the pros in attendance at this year's McGazza Fest pose for a photo in Kelly's hometown. Photo: Daniel Wypler.
“McGazza Fest 2018 was amazing – and I wouldn't expect anything less considering the number of people Kelly inspired throughout his career,” says Tyler McCaul. “The turnout was huge, and the vibe of the event can't be explained unless you were there. It was just about having a good time and riding for fun, exactly the way Kelly would've liked it.” The long list of professional athletes in attendance in 2018 also included Ryan Howard, Tyler McCaul, Carson Storch, Reece Wallace, Bas Van Steenbergen, Antonie Bizet, Ray George, Conor Macfarlane, Remy Morton, and BMXers Mike Hucker Clark, Jason Watts, and Kris Fox.
“Mcgazza fest was how every bike ride should be!” Antoine Bizet goes on to explain, “big sound system, more than 100 riders flying all weekend long on the sickest lines on earth with whatever bikes. Just celebrating our love for biking and for our biggest Kiwi friend in his home spot. Last Queenstown trip I rode dream track with him in 2015, it would have been better to have Kelly with us, but I can tell you he was not far away. Mcgazza Fest represents the spirit of Kelly because that's all his favourite things about riding bikes put together at his place. It's like if he organized the event himself and that's pretty sick!”
McGazza Fest includes a weekend of riding on Kelly’s home turf for with the main event including riding Gorge Road, Wynyard Dream Line, Rude Rock, Queenstown Skyline Bike Park and some of the locations and lines that Kelly was famous for. The second weekend will be hosted at McGazza Land – a jump park and pumptrack in Nelson.
Included in the prize is a helmet, shirt, and goggles customized by Shred with the Kelly McGarry Foundation logo. “The reach and support for the foundation has been quite amazing,” says Daniel Wypler, Kelly McGarry Foundation Trustee “We’ve received emails and messages from all corners of the globe and I’ve met people riding in Utah, New York, New Zealand, and Australia all stoked about what we’re doing and keeping Kelly’s spirit alive”.
“The top 3, best trick, and viewer’s choice, are all great prizes,” continues Daniel, “and the fans are involved in selecting the winners, but what makes the McGazza Spirit Award unique and special is that it’s not about one run or trick, it’s a week of hard work and support of your fellow competitors; and the ‘judges’ are the riders, diggers, and event staff.”
McGazza Festival is in Queenstown from January 25th to 27th next year and in Nelson from February 2nd to 3rd. If you’re following from home keep an eye on Instagram
for updates during the event and recap videos and photos following it!
The foundation continues to focus on their mission of supporting mountain biking and riders in New Zealand and have a number of projects in the pipeline for 2019/2020. For more on the foundation or McGazza Fest please visit the Kelly McGarry Foundation Website.