The inaugural Dark Horse Invitational Slopestyle Mountain-Bike Event in Revelstoke crowned a 12-year-old as its reigning champ. And that’s not all that makes it special. Words and photos by Lindsay Donovan.

I’m crouched in the dirt next to an immaculately sculpted 10-metre-high jump built specifically for this all-female mountain-bike event at British Columbia’s Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Suddenly, 14-year-old Natasha Miller launches off it and takes her hands off the bars, throwing a crowd-pleasing suicide no-hander with the style and confidence of a seasoned pro. Welcome to Dark Horse. It’s August 2021 and I’m at the inaugural Dark Horse Invitational, the brainchild of Canadian professional mountain biker Casey Brown. It’s the first of its kind: a four-day women’s slopestyle event where contestants compete for best tricks and biggest improvement. Brown says her main objective for launching Dark Horse is to cultivate a safe environment for progression, mentorship, and camaraderie, something she wishes she had when she began competing a dozen years ago. It features a new jump course specifically built for the 12 participants, and an on-site airbag and mulch jump to practice on. Ages range from 12 to 33, and the youngest rider, Tayte Proulx-Royds of Kelowna, British Columbia, takes home the overall Dark Horse trophy, overcoming her trepidation and launching a 10-metre gap jump. Afterward, she says the event was an amazing opportunity to meet other athletes, push her limits, and achieve new heights, literally.

Dark Horse Invitational: A Photo Essay

Above photo: A number of crashes occur during the 2021 Dark Horse event, but Squamish, BC, rider Bailey Goldstone is the first to hit the dirt hard enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. The spill happens off the five-metre-high platform during the final day, and she is diagnosed with a broken wrist, broken and dislocated collarbone, and a concussion.

Top photo: Thankfully, there are more successful airs than smashes, as evidenced by Coquitlam, BC, native Natasha Miller, who surprised onlookers with a suicide no-hander on day one.

Twelve-year-old Tayte Proulx-Royds of Kelowna, BC, is all smiles after her first successful attempt at the big sender. Event organizer Casey Brown (right) shares in her joy while videographers Dylan Siggers and Jason Mannings (background) document the day-one milestone.

On the final day, Vancouver native Micayla Gatto spreads the stoke, autographing a local boy’s helmet during a break in the action.

The third day includes a session on the airbag, where Casey Brown practices her inversions.