The sun wasn’t exactly shining as the week started out, but it didn’t take long for it break through the clouds to reveal the beautiful insanity of Whistler. Welcome to Whistler Crankworx 2018, high in the Canadian mountains. Photos and Words by Nick Waygood.
For those who are new to Crankworx, it’s a 10-day epic hosting 12 events for pros and amateurs alike. Over 1,100 competitors descend the hill, lap the courses, and throw down style in an attempt to win one (or more) of 7 titles. So, without further ado, let’s crack into the 15th annual Whistler Crankworx.
We kicked off the week last Saturday with Dual Speed n Style, which is a combination of Dual Slalom (speed) and freestyle tricks (style). Pro riders went alongside in a race against the clock to see who could better the others’ trick bag. The event started with the top 16 qualifiers, and finished with an epic battle between Tomas Lemoine and Greg Watts. Kyle Strait was on fire for the first 3 rounds, until exhaustion got the better of him and Watts proceeded to the final. Sam Reynolds looked to be on a blazer and possible win, until a determined Lemoine took him out to win the competition, and the Crankworx world championship overall. Reynolds took 3rd.
After a brief downpour, we awoke to smokey haze in the valley from a nearby bushfire and dry, dusty trails. Today was all about the Garbanzo Downhill.
The Garbanzo Downhill is a 13-minute constant descent down Whistler Bike Park’s most difficult trails. Endurance is key, and downhill-turned-enduro legend Sam Hill showed us that with a blazing 12 minute 46 second run down the 1000 metre-drop trail. Defending champion Marcelo Gutierrez couldn’t quite make it happen, with a mechanical up top leading to a crash. Jacob Dickson of Giant Factory Team claimed second, with Sam Blenkinsop taking 3rd.
Of the women, Georgia Astle smashed the local crowd with a time of 14:29, ahead of Claire Buchar in second, and Aussie Tracey Hannah not far behind in third.
At this stage, Crankworx had well and truly kicked off. Races had been won, money handed out, beer consumed, and runs completed in amass. Next up, the legendary Fox Air DH.
Running down Whistler Bike Park’s most popular trail, the Fox Air DH is a race run on the famous A-Line. 37 table-topped jumps, bumps, and step-ups are between 34 large berms on a rider’s descent. A 4 minute run has about 500 metres of altitude drop, with rock gardens and slabs scattered throughout.
When it came to racing, it was Finn Iles in elite mens who, on his birthday, squashed, cornered, and styled his way down the course to claim first place. 3 seconds separated the top three, with Magnus Manson and Bas Van Steenbergen coming in a close second and third.
For the women, it was Jill Kintner who proved unbeatable with her 6th Fox Air DH win in a row, with Vaea Verbeeck 0.040 of a second back in second, and Casey Brown claiming third.
With the dust settling on A-Line, we hopped back up the hill the following day for the 7th day of Crankworx Whistler. On today’s list, we had the Whip-Off Championship presented by Spank, and the Rockshox Pumptrack Challenge.
With the sun shining down at a balmy 30 degrees, riders sent it sideways over 40-foot tabletops in front of a crowd of hundreds. Judging for this type of competition was based off height, sideways-ness, smooth landings, and consistency. After an hour and a half of airtime, it was Allan Cooke who ticked all the right boxes and astonished the crowd with his constant style to take home top prize in the mens category. Carson Storch was a close second, with Thomas Vanderham in third.
For the women’s category, undefeated champion Casey Brown showed us all how it’s done to take out her 9th consecutive Whip-Off win in Crankworx events, with ex-downhill-racer Manon Carpenter coming second ahead of Jamie Hill in third.
With riders going back for more, spectators headed down into the village for dinner and the next Crankworx spectacle (yeah, the fun never stops); the Rockshox Pumptrack challenge. It would be the first event that would see Aussie Caroline Buchanan return to competition after a tough 8 months away due to injury.
As the sun set over the valley, the competition kicked off with a round of 16 men’s and round of 8 women’s. As laps were completed and the rounds trickled down, it would become evident as to who would win; Keegan Wright was hungry for another Pumptrack win, and Tomas Lemoine was determined to claim the Championship title. In the women’s category, Jill Kintner and Caroline Buchanan would have to fend off Jordan Scott and Kialani Hines (3rd) to have an old-fashioned face off. Buchanan won the first round against Kintner by 0.3 of a second, which was followed up by Buchanan taking the win, making it her first victory at her first race after her injury at the start of the year.
In the men’s it would be an underdog to take home top prize. Collin Hudson pushed beyond the limit to best Chaney Guennet and Tomas Lemoine, who would claim second and third. Wright settled for fourth.
And just like that, we’ve wrapped up the first 7 days of Crankworx Whistler. Stay tuned though for bike checks, Tech Expo highlights, and our end-of-week report, all brought to you thanks to Nick Waygood.