PUMPED

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - Words and Pho­tos: Robert Con­roy

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.

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