Vaea has been part of the Rocky Mountain family for a while now. We filmed this little shredit with her last year, but ran into some computer issues before we could share it. She's currently on the mend from a collarbone injury in Lourdes, but she's chomping at the bit to get racing in Lenzerheide next month.
Who are you and what are you all about?
My name is Vaea Verbeeck. I was born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and raised in Granby, Quebec. Growing up with my mom and older sister didn't stop me from being a total tomboy. I’ve always wanted to be the best at every sport: gymnastics, dancing, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, volleyball, soccer, you name it. But after progressing and learning, I’d stall in my motivation. They just weren’t for me.
At 16 I borrowed a downhill bike at Bromont, and I was hooked. The following year I got myself a bike and it didn't take me long to register for a downhill race. A few years later I was entering World Cups and knew that I’d found my sport. After finishing school in 2012, I rushed straight to North Vancouver and have been living the mountain life dream ever since.
I’m currently working at the Lululemon Athletica head office during the off-season and pulling the plug every summer to race the World Cup circuit.
Not scared, strong, calm, bike park tracks (lame I know), rocks, jumps.
PEDALLINNNNNNG uphill. That shit is hard on the body and mind. I'm also pretty good at breaking bones, not gonna lie. I got my fair share over the years, it's a fine line.
What's your favourite race?
I think my favourite race was World Champs at Hafjell, Norway in 2014. I’d gone a couple of days early and just enjoyed the park there. I loved the track; good jumps, good high-speed technical woods, and good corners. Seemed to suit me well too, I got 6th—my best result so far.
Tell us about what you do off the bike. What are your off-the-bike goals?
Life without bikes exists?
I spend a lot of time working out, indoors in the winter. Plus I take full advantage of the West Coast outdoor lifestyle: hiking, snowboarding, camping, bouldering, and food. Love food. #activities
I'm happiest at races. Over the years I’ve developed a sort of second family at the races, and rolling through the pits with your mates on the way to practice is perfect. It maybe doesn't feel that exciting when you're out there, but when I’m out with an injury I have major FOMO.
What bikes are you riding right now?
Rocky Mountain Maiden
Rocky Mountain Altitude Rally Edition
Rocky Mountain Flow
How do you set your bikes up? Anything unique?
Slack and low to plough through the rough stuff. Otherwise pretty standard.
Who's your favourite rider?
I'm scared to watch sometimes, but Brook MacDonald. Wild lad. Open throttle!
What is on your playlist right now?
Right now: ODESZA, Jupe, some Rihanna, Kilter, Tim Legend, Møme. It's all over the place.
Youtube (gotta watch them Supercross replays somehow)
If you were the boss of mountain biking, how would you change things?
Easy. I started racing because I loved discovering new tracks and challenges. If logistics and finances could allow it, I would love to see new race tracks every year! New places and new experiences.
Goals for 2016-2017?
I've been on the mend getting back from different serious injuries over the last few years. The goal is to stay on the bike more. Being off the bike is the last place I want to be. Setting my limits and be in the game for the next few years would be the best.
I am eyeing up another National Champion title. I always want to better myself and my results. So technically, improving on a 6th place would be a World Cup podium. However, I am going for my best performance, not a result. I'll be happy to get back to races and give it my best. It's worked for me in the past.
A bunch of rad people! Rocky Mountain and Hope Tech make it happen for me. Also, Troy Lee Designs, FiveTen, Oakley, Atlas Brace, Rockwell Watches, Crankbrothers, and JFG Nutrition for making me sweat a ton.
Go out and play!