15-year-old mountain biker awarded Dark Horse Invitational title

Erice Van Leuven, a 15-year-old- up-and-coming freeride mountain biker from New Zealand, takes home the 2022 Dark Horse Invitational title.

The Dark Horse Invitational hosted by RMR and Casey Brown featured 18 participants this year. Photo: Nora Hughes

Erice Van Leuven, a 15-year-old mountain biker from New Zealand, snagged the 2022 Dark Horse Invitational title at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on Saturday, Sept. 24. The all-women’s free-ride event is hosted by Revelstoke Mountain Resort and professional mountain biker Casey Brown.

Erice Van Leuren (left) takes home the Dark Horse Invitational title, hosted by professional mountain biker Casey Brown and Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Laura Meggs/Revelstoke Mountain Resort

The invitational event is an opportunity for young girls in the sport of free-ride mountain biking to test their skills and progress alongside other world-class riders. Each participant is a talented female rider hand-picked by Brown and invited to RMR for four days of friendly, fun progression.

Erice Van Leuven (pictured here) took home the 2022 Dark Horse title. Photo: Nora Hughes

Dark Horse differs from other mountain biking events because it’s not a competition.

“It’s not a contest,” says Brown in an interview with Mountaineer staff. “It’s solely just for fun and just to build progression in the women’s free-ride side.”

The event provides the women opportunity to progress their skills, says Brown. First, the girls try out tricks on a giant airbag. After reaching a level of comfort on the airbag, they transition to a mulch jump and then take it to the dirt.

“It’s a very specific progression,” Brown says.

Brown says this year’s 18 participants had a blast lapping the resort and sessioning the course.

The Big Air Sesh on Saturday allowed spectators to view the riders on course. Revelstoke’s Katie Burrell provided commentary, friendly competition, and prizes for the crowd.

This is the second annual Dark Horse Invitational event following the inaugural event in 2021. Brown says this year, the event grew from 12 participants to 18, and continues to foster progression among women in mountain biking.

The 2022 Dark Horse Invitational hosted 18 women at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Photo: Nora Hughes
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Nora Hughes is a recent graduate of the Thompson Rivers University Interdisciplinary Program, where she combined her passions for Adventure Tourism, Communications and Journalism. With a strong interest in community news, Nora is passionate about giving a voice and face to the people of Revelstoke through storytelling.