Video: Greg Minnaar Rides at Midnight in Åre, Sweden

Sep 11, 2021
by AreBikeFestival  

Back in 1999, an 18-year-old Greg Minnaar arrived at the UCI world championships in the small mountain town of Åre in Sweden, looking to get a gold medal before leaving the junior ranks. But the steep, technical course and the wet and muddy conditions proved to be a bit of a handful for the young South African that day, landing him in 6th place. "It was my worst world championships as a junior. I came here to at least get on the podium as a junior", as Minnaar recalls it.

Greg Minaar on the Shimano jump trail while on his visit to re Sweden.
Who said downhill racers don't have style?

In 2001, just two years later, he did just that as a senior when he rode home a bronze medal in Vail, Colorado. And another two years on, he claimed the top spot in Lugano, Switzerland, and got to pull on his first rainbow jersey. In 2012 he won his second gold in Leogang, Austria, before making it back-to-back victories in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg the following year. And then, in August this year, at the tender age of 39, he snatched his fourth set of rainbows in a thrilling race in Val di Sole, Italy, 18 years after his first title. Add five silver and three bronze medals to that tally, alongside 23 world cup victories, and there's no wonder we call Greg Minnaar the greatest male downhill racer of all time.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Minnaar on the back foot for once.

But even world champions and legends need to let their hair down every once in a while. So when Johan Lindström, organizer of the 1999 world champs as well as the annual Åre Bike Festival, popped the question to Greg if he wanted to come to Sweden at the beginning of July this summer, right after the Les Gets stop of the world cup, the answer was a resounding "yes". 22 years after his latest visit to Åre, Minnaar found himself in a vastly different mountain town that has grown substantially in the days since the 1999 championships. These days, Åre Bike Park is Scandinavia's biggest bike park with 35 trails and a maximum vertical drop of 872 meters (that's 2 860 feet in freedom units) and a buzzing local bike scene.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Photo Emrik Jansson
Blue steel and brown ribbons of dirt.

The festival offered the chance to ride lift-accessed trails at midnight, judge a whip-off contest, explore hidden gems in the Åre valley and experience the Swedish bike scene in all of its weird glory. And have a few beers as well. After all, Rob Warner was in town to host the daily webcasts. We'd like to think that the week in Åre helped Minnaar to regain his focus on the bigger task at hand a few weeks later, the one that earned him his fourth rainbow jersey and world championship gold medal.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Effortless style.

Photo Emrik Jansson
The focus of a true champion.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Tjarnis is one of the steeper and tighter trails in the Are Bike Park, no match for a four-time world champion.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Photo Emrik Jansson
Minnaar in the Swedish golden hour. A month later he would find another kind of gold.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Flat pedals and nac-nacs, not the way we're used to seeing Minnaar. Either way, he crushes it.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Are's home to 3 800 inhabitants and Scandinavia's biggest concentration of bike trails all over the valley.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Bridging the gap between racing and freeride in the lush, Swedish forests.

Photo Emrik Jansson
Greg Minnaar scoping the horizon for rainbow stripes.

All photos by Emrik Jansson – Emrik Jansson Photography

Åre Bike Park
Åre Bike Festival


52 Comments

  • 38 1
 GOAT
  • 8 0
 minAAAA
  • 7 0
 @abueno: Mina bump ba baa buuumum
  • 3 0
 Hey Greg. Congrats on winning the stripes. I picked you for that win in the fantasy. But after seeing you party your butt off I chose someone else for the next one. (It's all good you deserved it)
I'm going to bet on you again in Snowshoe so can you do me a solid and win for me?
Cool. Cheers buddy.
Btw my girlfriend loves you.
"He's so dreamy"
  • 4 0
 Also and definitely the classiest mountain biker of all times.
  • 5 0
 @abueno: I think you meant MinnÅre
Wink
  • 2 0
 @jackalope: I was trying to make a goat noise
  • 1 0
 @flyin-ryan: My wife likes him too. :/
  • 17 0
 The man. The legend. My favourite rider of all time. Down to earth, a nice guy and unstoppable! Makes old boys like me feel like we’re still be represented amongst the latest whipper snappers!
  • 12 1
 Who said downhill racers don't have style?

No one…..
  • 10 0
 We must protect this man at all costs
  • 10 0
 Fresh Prince of Big Air.
  • 10 1
 GOAT
  • 6 0
 Greg literally has the best style in the game, looks like he’s riding in slow motion while going fast than anyone else. GOAT
  • 8 1
 GOAT
  • 5 0
 Nac nac’s- - - how does the goat get those behemoth length legs over and above his top tube and back?
  • 5 0
 Could Minnar get cooler or better looking. After racing I guess he will just take up a modeling career.
  • 7 1
 GOAT
  • 7 1
 GOAT
  • 4 0
 Oh Åre with your ever lasting hubris... 35 trails, that is a very creative way to count. Try with half of that.
  • 1 0
 Still better than Norrköping. And Järvsö.
  • 1 0
 @Glisseur: shots fired!
  • 4 0
 and then cut that number by 4 and you have the number of maintained trails. also, 24h daylight - closes at 16h.
  • 1 0
 @sickriderch: Trail grades in Åre are atributed by maintenance effort:
No maintenance - Black
Lot's of Maintenance - Green
  • 4 0
 Look at the time! Thank you for that Rob
  • 5 1
 GOAT
  • 5 1
 GOAT
  • 2 0
 Rob Warner : "Look at the time, it's midnight."

Me : Oh I see what you did here *wink*
  • 2 0
 Would love to find some old footage like that any ideas
  • 1 0
 google the "Earthed" movies, they followed the WC before redbull.tv / xtreme tv and whatnot.
  • 1 0
 He also competed at Rampage 2003 on a Haro. Next year he was on Honda so maybe they (Honda) wouldn't have liked to see their bike (and the secret gearbox) be smashed to bits.
  • 4 1
 G.O.A.T.
  • 4 1
 GOAT
  • 4 1
 GOAT
  • 4 1
 G O A T
  • 1 0
 He has so much style and speed that he's dressed for the church already. Legend.
  • 3 1
 GREG ON A TEAR GOAT
  • 3 1
 GOAT
  • 1 0
 Hällrajd gap in a pisspot !
  • 2 0
 You're up next.
  • 2 1
 GOAT
  • 2 1
 Freedom units ???
  • 1 1
 GOAT
  • 1 1
 Pinning grin for me! GOAT
  • 1 1
 Greatest Of All Time, the Goat
  • 1 0
 On the Hightower?
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