Words and photos: Connor WalbergNow, I know this event may not be the usual Newschoolers fare, but when the snow melts, biking season hits, and for me is a perfect fill in. As bikes have progressed in the past several years, the sport has advanced to a level comparable to skiing’s slopestyle. Crankworx has been taking place in Whistler every summer for several years now and is recognized as the largest freeride event in the world. This year it expanded to Whistler’s sister resort, Winter Park. Though the resort only has one trail, its crew is dedicated to bringing the mountain to the next level and helping advance the sport in Colorado.
For the event, veteran competitor and park designer John Cowan of Kona bikes was brought in to create the craziest setup I have ever seen. The course begins with a scary steep rock roll-in into a 35-foot drop over a road gap. From there it progresses through a massive quarter pipe with a hipped landing, into a 15' step-up gap to a platform, which hips back out of the forest. After which is a large hipped double into another double that threw some riders 20' and higher into the air. Finally, it flows into a 25' step-up gap and off of a 25' tall step down drop that gaps over 35'!
The event started on Thursday, July 5th and ran through the 7th. Thursday started out great, I picked up my media pass, walked the course and was stoked to see such an amazing setup! The riders were supposed to qualify that day, but rain came and delayed the qualis until the following morning. Fortunately I was able to see several of the riders take practice runs, and fire off a few photos. The rider below bailed on a step-up and landed running down the platform!
On Friday, I started out the day shooting the qualifiers that were supposed to have taken place on Thursday. From there I went and got a few photos of the downhill race on the fast and flowy DH course.
The rain was actually great for the race and buffed out the course, allowing faster speeds while keeping the dust down. Though the course could have been more technical or had more jumps, the large berms allowed riders to hold ridiculous speed.
The fastest riders were pedaling hard on all the flats and railing the berms. On one section was a large wooden berm where I watched a rider slip the wall and flip twice as his bike almost took me out. Although he spent the next few minutes in pain on the ground he managed to get up and ride to the bottom! Definitely one of the gnarlier crashes of the day.
After the race was the big air jam. This event took place on the slopestyle course and consisted of 2 different features that were added together to determine the final score. The first feature was the two doubles and the best trick of the two was scored. Riders threw down several new tricks that were mostly dirt bike related. John Cowan was throwing what looked like a rodeo over the big double.
Kona rider Paul Basagoitia attempted the 360 tailwhip but had to bail mid air.
One rider threw a Cliffhanger, which involves holding the handlebar with his feet, then pulling the bike back up for the landing.
3rd place rider Justin Wyper threw the McMetz, where he pushed his legs between his arms over the handlebar, then let go of the bar and pulled his legs back to the pedals.
2nd place rider Pedro Merrero successfully landed a front flip over the hipped double after 2 tries. And the 1st placer Jamie Goldman landed a backflip X-up one-footer over the 2nd part of the big air which took place on the large 35' step down gap.
Saturday came and I had a little free time and rode the DH course. Overall, I felt like the course was great and has a lot of potential for next year as more work will be done to it. For the slopestyle finals a huge crowd turned out and packed in all around the course. Many of the biggest names in Freeriding were pre-qualified and had arrived that day. Some of the highlights included: Paul Basagoitia, who went for a tailwhip backflip but had some trouble getting his bike back between his legs. Kyle Strait who basically landed the double tail-whip but washed out at the last second. Cam McCaul who threw down several huge floater 360's and tailwhipped the large step-up. Jamie Goldman who somehow backflipped the large step-up, and Alex Pro who almost landed a 360 up it. Also, a 540 that was thrown out of the quarter pipe.
The entire Crankworx event was awesome to be involved with and I look forward to shooting again next year, and hope to shoot Whistler Crankworx in August as well! Here are the final results for the Slopestyle and the Downhill events: Slopestyle (July 7, 2007)1st. Cam McCaul2nd. Jamie Goldman3rd. Paul BasagoitaDownhill – Pro Women (July 6, 2007)1st. Jackie Harmony2nd. Kathy Pruitt3rd. Abigail HippelyDownhill – Pro Men (July 6, 2007)1st. Amiel Cavalier2nd. Jared Rando3rd. Ian Odom