When TGR assembled two of mountain biking’s biggest stars to drop into Corbet’s Couloir last spring, there was a dose of skepticism it would actually work. As the crew dug into the project and doubts began to creep in, it was Casey Brown, a 5’3” gal from Canada who kept exploring the possibilities to bring this crazy vision to life. Cam McCaul, who suggested TGR invite Casey along for this shoot, had this to say about his Corbet’s co-star, “[She’s] definitely, guy or girl, one of the gnarliest bike riders I know for sure. She’s got the guts, but also the work ethic and she doesn’t back down from a challenge.”
Casey’s ability to face her fears head on, combined with her unique blend of confidence and skills on a bike, blur the lines between how males and females are perceived in action sports, making her an inspiration to both sexes.
TGR: Corbet’s was a heavy session. How did you get the nerves to hit that?
CB: A lot of the build up to riding Corbet’s Couloir was done through my past training, mental strength and mental toughness. The mental training through World Cup racing helped with pushing my limits and getting comfortable with fear. Its about turning your fear into excitement and knowing what you’re capable of.
Before the training and World Cup experience, what were you like as a child growing up?
I think I was brought up differently than a lot of young girls. I never had anyone telling me I had to be a certain way. My brother was always my hero, so I looked up to him as a young kid and never really thought of myself as a girl or a guy, I just thought of myself as a person that likes to have a good time and I think keeping that mindset throughout life has helped. Also, being the youngest out of five kids you have to fight for your food and fight for your position. I think that got bred into me at a young age as well.
Despite the obvious risk, you can see the stoke all over Casey's face. Photo: TGR
Describe your introduction to riding a bike when you were younger.
My first experience riding a bike was my brother building a jump out of a piece of wood and a couple of rocks in the driveway when I was five years old. I remember my brother pushing me into this jump and I don’t remember what happened after that, I think I ate shit pretty hard. Growing up was that rough and tumble lifestyle.
So, catching air was your first move on a bike, not learning how to ride?
Yep, that was it (laughs).
How did you go on to develop such great air awareness after that intro?
I mean, I have had a Whistler Bike Park pass since I was 15 years old, so I think that plays a big factor into it. Just learning how to hit jumps at a young age, being comfortable with it and following people that are really good at it. Plus, that’s the fun part of the sport, hitting jumps I think.
That love of that air was on full displays as you went bigger and faster than Cam into Corbet’s. Was that on purpose?
It just kind of worked out that way. There wasn’t much room for speed, so I just gave it a good pedal stroke, sent it in there and dealt with the rest when it came to me.
Now that you are a professional and your job description puts you in some potentially dangerous situations, how do you balance the risk of avoiding injuries with the reward of getting the shot?
I think I can make the call like, “no I don’t want to do it,” and people can respect that just out of knowing how hard I work for it. I think if you have the respect in the sport, you can have the power to say no and feel good about it.
Compared to guys, is it easier or harder for women to say no and back out of a line when the cameras are rolling, and the crew is waiting?
I think its all about that respect regardless. I still push the sport as much as I can, but if I’m not feeling it, I’m not going to do it. You’ve got to be smart about it if you want longevity in the sport.
So, you were feeling it on top of Corbet’s?
Yeah, I was. The drop didn’t look impossible for me and I have a lot of faith in Cam and in his riding ability, so if I look at another human doing it, I can most likely do the same thing.
Casey and Tim Durtschi getting playful on Jackson's corn. Photo: TGR
Can you apply that same line of thinking to Red Bull Rampage and do you have a desire to be a part of that event?
For sure, I would never say no to an invite and I’ve been a huge fan of that event. It would definitely take some specific training on my part to prepare for an event like that, but I don’t think its out of range whatsoever.
Do you have any plans to try and make this happen?
I’ve found that for most of my career things work out in a way where I’ve never had to pursue anything too hard. I think it can work in the opposite way if you try too hard to get something. For me, it’s best to just continue being confident in my skill level and see where that takes me. If I get the invite one day, that would be rad, but I’m not going to do a campaign or anything like that for getting into Rampage.
Do you have any messages to girls or other women regarding mountain biking or life in general?
My biggest thing is, get skills! No matter what it is, if it’s carpentry skills, artistic skills, be proud of your skills and work on them and have something to showcase in your life. I think that’s really important to make people strong in their own realm, whether it be sports or art or whatever you want to do, having skills is really important. Another thing is to take the risk. I think that’s one thing that people don’t do enough of these days. You know, risk it. I think that’s really important in business and in your sport or whatever you choose to do.
You can see more of Brown and McCaul in Teton Gravity Research's new film Rogue Elements, presented by REI.