CRANKWORX BATTLES HEAT UP AS RIDERS ROLL IN TO INNSBRUCK AND LES GETS
Action-Packed June on Deck as Rounds Two and Three of the Crankworx World Tour Alight in Europe
INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA June 12, 2018 – They’ve gone a few rounds against each other, the clock and themselves. We’ve gotten a taste of who’s fittest, fastest, strongest. Who’s been working on new tricks and new skills. It all began to come to light in March, hints of what would roll out over the course of the season.
The reigning Queen emerged from Crankworx Rotorua leading the pack but frustrated with her downhill game, pledging to shift her spring training focus. 2017’s King left the Southern Hemisphere in eighth place, licking his wounds and preparing to surge on home soil, a Kiwi-usurper instead leading the charge.
The time for celebration, regret, rest, review, and training is done, as 2018’s battles for the titles of King and Queen of Crankworx roll on to Europe. The gates to the world’s biggest arena of multidisciplinary mountain bike competition and celebration are about to drop.
What Lies Ahead
Rinse, wash, polish, repeat. That’s what’s going down heading into the second year of the fourth stop on the Crankworx World Tour. 2017’s tracks for the festival’s five events were lauded by some as the best in the world. So, heading into 2018 it’s no muss, no fuss, all buff, polish and perfect.
Crankworx Les Gets
Les Gets is moving on up for Year Three, with part of the action moving up the hill to the area known as Gibannaz. What’s unique about Gibannaz? The area will allow for expansion, meaning an updated Whip-Off jump and a bigger Pump Track that will be open to the public following the festivities. Beyond Gibannaz, an all-new event will await riders who come to compete in this storied Alpen town, while the Slopestyle course will see a tweak or two. As for the two Downhill events that bring the world’s best, past, present and future, to Les Gets? Perfection needs no addition or alteration. Let the good times roll.
What Went Down in Rotorua
Sam Blenkinsop started his season with a bang in Rotorua, kicking off the first Crankworx World Tour stop with a second place finish in the Enduro and gaining momentum from there. “I’m happy with how the day went and how the week’s gone so far. I’m stoked for the season…” he said after winning the final of three downhills, adding “…to come away with the lead at the moment is awesome,” of the King of Crankworx battle.
Mick Hannah’s Air DH podium-topping performance bested last year’s winner Matt Walker, pushing him into the runner up points position to start the season. 2016’s King Tomas Slavik boosted his way up in the standings thanks to a win in the 100% Dual Slalom Rotorua, while Keegan Wright rode strong during the opening weekend of the fest. Wright missed out on additional points after leaving early for the opening rounds of the Enduro World Series, but said he would be ready to get back amongst it come Innsbruck and Les Gets.
On the women’s side, Jill Kintner came to win. She missed the podium in her first race (coming fifth in the Redwoods DH) but rose to the challenge in the 100% Dual Slalom, building on her success from there. By the end of the week, she claimed two more top steps. Casey Brown’s first place finish in the Giant Toa Enduro presented by CamelBak set a solid points foundation for the season. With the Whip-Off back on the docket for King and Queen points, plus second place in the Redwoods DH, Brown left Rotorua looking strong and very much in a position to challenge Kintner. Hot on her heels, Vaea Verbeeck suffered an unfortunate setback midway through the festival, breaking her collar bone in DH practice, taking her out of contention for both that event and the Official Oceania Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK. She still came out with a strong points total, and now back in fighting shape is hoping to make up some ground on European soil.
King of Crankworx
Sam Blenkinsop (NZL)
Total Points: 500
Rotorua Enduro: 150
Rotorua Redwoods DH: 150
Rotorua Downhill: 150
Rotorua Air DH: 50
Queen of Crankworx
Total Points: 565
Rotorua Redwoods DH: 75
Rotorua Dual Slalom: 150
Rotorua Pump Track: 150
Rotorua Downhill: 40
Rotorua Air DH: 150
Who’s Back In, Who’s Out and Who to Watch For
Back in the Game
Tracey Hannah, sidelined with a concussion during the Redwoods DH is back on track and set to compete in both Innsbruck and Les Gets, and looking strong with a third place finish in Leogang.
Verbeeck’s collar bone has healed and she’ll be competing at both stops.
Jack Moir, who missed competition in Crankworx Rotorua with a back injury, is still out.
Greg Minnaar, who podiumed in both the Les Gets Downhill races in 2017 and had been set to compete in 2018, is out with injury.
Emil Johansson will be missing Slopestyle competition in Innsbruck and Les Gets with a back injury, while Max Fredriksson is still out with a broken arm from Slopestyle in Rotorua.
Who to Watch For – King and Queen Contenders, and Beyond
Sam Blenkinsop and Jill Kintner, current leaders for King and Queen.
Keegan Wright, back at it after smashing through the first weekend of competition at Crankworx Rotorua in March and a strong contender for the overall title.
Amaury Pierron, coming off back-to-back World Cup wins in Fort William and Leogang, will be one to watch for in the Les Gets Downhill.
Valentina Holl, the Junior currently taking the world by storm, will be taking on the Downhill in her home country.
Brooke Macdonald and Luca Shaw, both in the midst of breakthrough seasons, are on deck for one stop each, Macdonald for Innsbruck and Shaw for Les Gets.
Danny Hart will be back to defend his win in the iXS Innsbruck Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club.
Myriam Nicole will also be looking to defend. Watch for her in the Les Gets Downhill.
Troy Brosnan is set to take on the Les Gets DH, which he won in 2017, and the Crankworx Les Gets Mont-Chéry DH the following day.
Kialani Hines returns to the Crankworx arena after her second place finish on the Pump Track in Rotorua. She’ll be competing on both European Pump Tracks, as well as the 100% Dual Slalom Les Gets.
Tahnee Seagrave, Fort William’s most recent champ, will be one to watch throughout both Innsbruck and Les Gets.
Dakotah Norton is nearly going for the full pull in Les Gets, currently signed up for the Whip Off, both Downhills, Dual Slalom, and Pump Track.
Rachel Atherton, coming off a recent win in Leogang, is reported to be competing in both Downhill races in Les Gets.
What’s Coming and Where the Points will be Won
Points for top 10, with 150 for first place
Why it’s key:
With three events in Rotorua, Downhill was the driving force in the points surge for current leader Blenkinsop, who won two and podiumed in a third, and what padded Kintner’s lead, with a win in the Air DH. With some big names taking to the tracks in Innsbruck and Les Gets, including Pierron, Seagrave, Hart, Nicole, and Brosnan, will Blenki and Kintner be able to charge to the top again?
What to watch:
Sunday, June 17: iXS Innsbruck Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club (live on crankworx.com)
What to expect:
European Crankworx Downhill action kicks off in Innsbruck, with the return of the iXS Innsbruck Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club on the track nicknamed “The Rough One.” A few small tweaks will be made to the technical, rooty switchbacks and jumps that greeted riders last year, including wood/rock features and jumps. Both Danny Hart and Tracey Hannah will be on course to defend last year’s wins. As things roll on to Les Gets, one of the most hotly anticipated races on the calendar returns, unchanged and ready to welcome riders looking to shred their way into the history books, including last year’s winners Brosnan and Nicole.
Points for top eight, with 150 for first place
Why they’re key:
The duelling action helped define 2017’s race for King and Queen, with two Pump Track masters eventually coming out on top in the royal battle. Loron and Kintner both sat atop the Pump Track podium in France, earning points that helped them pull ahead in the overall. In 2018, there’s more head-to-head goodness on offer with the addition of the all-new 100% Dual Slalom Les Gets.
What to watch:
Thursday, June 14: Rockshox Innsbruck Pump Track Challenge (live on crankworx.com)
Friday, June 15: Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style Innsbruck (live on crankworx.com)
Wednesday, June 20: 100% Dual Slalom Les Gets
Thursday, June 21: Rockshox Les Gets Pump Track Challenge (live on crankworx.com)
Friday, June 22: Muc-Off Dual Speed & Style Les Gets (live on crankworx.com)
What to expect:
“It’s a really, really hard track…” said Chaney Guennet, last year’s winner in Innsbruck “…it’s perfect.” With that in mind, 2017’s Pump Track is back for Crankworx Innsbruck 2018. Head-to-head action in Austria moves on next to the Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style Innsbruck, a track that saw three trick-heavy slopestylers storm the podium last year, including Tomas Lemoine who sat atop it all before also podiuming in the Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle presented by Kenda two days later. Lemoine has already snagged a win in the RockShox Rotorua Pump Track Challenge, proving he’s in fighting shape this season. Moving on to Les Gets, change is the name of the game for 2018. A fast, technical and unrelenting Dual Slalom course will make its debut, rolling out over 200 meters with 10 gates per side. Next up, the Pump Track looms large on the schedule in France. Loron took an emotional win on home soil last year in this discipline he’s become synonymous with. Since then, he’s struggled, missing the podium in every Crankworx Pump Track competition that’s followed. An all-new, more challenging course with more turns awaits as he returns to defend. Lastly, the Muc-Off Dual Speed & Style Les Gets track will also see a rework, pushing competitors to ride faster and go bigger, with an added rhythm section at the end of the course just before the final jump.
Points for top 3, with 100 for 1st place
Why it’s key:
“There are lots of things that show style for the guys, but there isn’t really anything for the women that shows that aspect of riding…it’s a good platform to show we can actually have style when we ride bikes.” This from Casey Brown, the perennial Whip Queen. With Whip-Off back in the mix for the points battle in 2018, two european Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank give riders willing to get sideways the chance to snag some points.
What to watch:
OAKLEY Official Alpine Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK: Wednesday, June 13
Official European Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK: Thursday, June 21
What to expect:
Innsbruck’s picturesque OAKLEY Official Alpine Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK jump returns for 2018. This stunner of a jump, set alongside a mountaintop lake high above the city, became the stuff of legend the moment the first rider dropped last year. In Les Gets, the jump will move up the Gibannaz allowing more space to build a higher jump to challenge riders.
Points for top 10, with 150 for 1st place
Why it’s key:
With the pressure attached to Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship events, it’s not often competitors waver from their singular slopestyle-focus, but it’s not always the case. Lemoine, currently tied for sixth with Kyle Strait, is the perfect example. While Blenki’s speed currently leads the charge, last year it was Loron’s all-round mastery that earned him the $25,000 paycheque. For riders with style, skill and stamina like Lemoine, a top three finish in the King Battle is very much within the realm of possibility.
What to watch:
Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle presented by Kenda: Saturday, June 16 (live on Red Bull TV and crankworx.com)
Crankworx Les Gets Slopestyle: Sunday, June 24 (live on Red Bull TV and crankworx.com)
What to expect:
For the most part, both courses will remain the same in 2018. Based on rider feedback, the meticulously designed and crafted jumps and features are currently being buffed and tweaked. Alongside Rogatkin and Rheeder, Lemoine stepped onto the Slopestyle podium in Innsbruck, leaving Austria with hardware from both Slope and Dual Speed & Style. Heading into Europe, he’s riding a wave of momentum from his win on the Rotorua Pump Track and is on deck to compete in Slopestyle, Dual Speed & Style and Pump Track at the next two stops. Other key riders to watch for will be Szymon Godziek, who landed his first Crankworx Slopestyle podium in Les Gets last year and will be taking on Slope and DS&S in both stops, as well as the Official European Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK in France. In Les Gets, minor course changes will elevate the course on which Rheeder made his triumphant return last year.
What’s On the Line
Aside from the prestige of the title, the King and Queen of Crankworx each take home $20,000 CAD. New in 2018, a Royal Family of the Crankworx World Tour will be named, with the second place overall riders (male and female) each receiving $10,000 CAD and third taking home $5,000 CAD. All prizes will be awarded at the end of competition at Crankworx Whistler, August 10-19, 2018.
Get in on the Action
Follow along with the Crankworx World Tour LIVE on all your devices:
Crankworx Innsbruck >> https://bit.ly/2Mb08Kt
Crankworx Les Gets >> https://bit.ly/2JueVC2
For updates on all things Crankworx, download the Crankworx World Tour app: https://apple.co/2JsIQdR
Play Crankworx Fantasy to get in on all the action and for a chance to win the ultimate trip for two to Crankworx Whistler 2018: https://bit.ly/2LGEVac
Release photos: Dropbox
About the Crankworx World Tour
The Crankworx World Tour is where ordinary humans perform the extraordinary and launch into the realm of the unimaginable. From slopestyle ninjas to downhill champs and enduro experts, sideways steeze-masters, slalom slayers and pump track pros – they all ride faster, climb further, fly higher, and go bigger than what was once thought to be possible, taking on the world and the challenges set before them with seemingly superhuman power and passion. In 2018, Crankworx brings their feats of two-wheeled magic to four stops around the world. Come along for the ride as the Crankworx World Tour travels to Rotorua, New Zealand (March 17-25), Innsbruck, Austria (June 13-17) and Les Gets, France (June 20-24), before bringing it home to Whistler, Canada for the 15th year of Crankworx competition (August 10-19).
Julia Montague | Communications Manager, Crankworx World Tour