Crankworx Rotorua is the new kid on the block, and is possibly the biggest event in the southern hemisphere, bar a World Cup, in recent history. As an Aussie it is a 50/50 draw of events you understand and others you only have a very rough idea of the concept of. Speed and Style, I think I saw that on the internet once.
The week long event took place at the iconic site of the 2006 World Champs (the one where Sam Hill took home rainbow stripes) now the home of Rotorua’s Skyline, sister of the Queenstown Skyline park. The event used none of the MTB park trails available though, instead creating all new ones especially for Crankworx. Some of the bigger features like the Slopestyle course were clearly visible from the main street and almost all the way back into town.
Downhill in this region of the world is like what Rugby and the All Blacks is to New Zealanders in general. It was a track that even the bravest of World Cup heroes feared, with a certain Aussie great heard saying he wished he had a bigger bike. Suffice to say when the IXS Downhill rocked around on Friday, the trackside was lined with hecklers and the folk of Rotorua. The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing and with the final section under the gondola completely open except for the masses surrounding the track, you could see riders slay the big hip step up and final monster jump. Crashes were had, survivors were cheered and unfortunately the French came out on top. Loic Bruni took the win ahead of Eliot Jackson in the men whilst Rachel Atherton asserted her position before the World Cup season with a win in the women. In a historic first men and women both had equal prize money which also meant the after party at Lava Bar in town had extra burn.
Have you ever been riding through a random bit of singletrack only to be met with a cacophony of sound, chainsaws and other things you just can’t grasp as the trail passes by? Saturday was the Giant Toa Enduro, the first round of the Enduro World Series. With six stages in the Redwoods and the final stage back at Skyline this moveable feast of riding took on some of the most treacherous trails in the forest. There were spectators spread all throughout the woods chasing the world’s best, all you had to do was follow a local to the best carnage points.
After a season of injury Jerome Clementz looked to have taken the win but with timing behind the racing it wasn’t till the podium that the crowd waiting got the news. Anne Caroline Chausson had a strong fight with Tracey Mosely throughout the day to finish first and second respectively.
For most Australasian’s Slopestyle is something for Canadians and even amongst the Aussie media few of us had seen it live. Two Canadian Crankworx employees and we were given a ruthless lesson in Slopestyle ways.
It rained hard the night before and the morning of but a Crankworx Slopestyle has never been cancelled and the show went on despite athlete’s protests. The jumps were barely dry and it was hard for the riders to piece together a run.
Brett Rheeder took the win with his superb first run everyone else failed to come close. Crashes, thrown bikes and helmets, even the great Brandon Semenuk fell fowl of an incomplete run and with no one else to come Rheeder used his second run as a victory lap.