In 2004, newcomer Paul “Bas” Basagoitia borrowed a friend’s bike to compete in Crankworx’s inaugural Slopestyle event. Coming from a freestyle BMX background, Basagoitia had no real experience in the Slopestyle discipline. Admittedly, the scale of Crankworx surprised him but despite his inexperience, Basagoitia blew the doors off the course and won the event; a moment that would forever change his life. “After I won, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing,” said Basagoitia, recalling the sponsorship opportunities and event invitations that flooded in for weeks after.
Also in 2004, Timo Pritzel jumped over the entire final feature of the Slopestyle course, a 40 foot scaffold jump at the bottom of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Although Pritzel achieved some of the biggest air Crankworx crowds had seen ever, he did not stick the landing and ended up shattering his right leg. Skip Taylor, Executive Producer of Crankworx, recalls, “It remains one of the craziest hucks we have seen to date.”
During the Slopestyle event in 2005, Darren “Bearclaw” Berrecloth wowed the crowds when he hurled himself off the course’s ladder bridge then spun 360 over a massive 60-foot road gap and stomped the landing. It was “the 360 heard ‘round the world” and the trick set the slopestyle bar higher than ever before. To this day, fellow Crankworx competitor and four-time UCI 4X World Champion, Brian Lopes still calls it “the sickest thing I’ve ever seen.”
In 2009, The Deep Summer Photo Challenge was added to the Crankworx schedule of events. Crankworx was virtually devoid of arts and culture events at the time and fans instantly embraced the event resulting in a sold out show in the first year. Finally mountain bike photographers had a presence in a festival that had previously been heavily focused on the athletes and sport. The Deep Summer Photo Challenge continues to be a Crankworx highlight. This year the Deep Summer Photo Challenge will take place on Wednesday, August 14 with professional photographers including Scott Markewitz, Harookz, Garrett Grove, Nicolas Teichrob and Bruno Long as well as one additional Pinkbike Wildcard photographer.
Heckler’s Rock, now a cultural fixture of the Canadian Open DH event, first appeared on the Crankworx scene in 2009 when Whistler residents Kenny Smith and Tyler Morland designed the Canadian Open DH track to run down the lift line of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Regarded as the gnarliest Canadian Open DH track in Crankworx Whistler’s history, riders had to battle wet, steep rock and root sections and get past a technical rock roll feature lined with unruly fans. Packed with heckling fans, Heckler’s Rock became the unsanctioned haven for mountain bike aficionados ready to scream, yell and blow horns in the faces of riders charging past. Heckler’s Rock has become one of the premiere viewing spots for race spectators ever since, where the energy is wild and the widespread motto is “shirts off on the rock.” Sam Hill dominated the Canadian Open DH in its first year on the course and blew minds with his incredible bike handling skills in menacing conditions.
After winning a historic gold medal in the first ever BMX event to be held at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Anne-Caroline Chausson took nearly a year off of competing on her bike. She returned initially to racing at a Mega-Avalanche event in 2009, but captured the mountain bike world’s attention again when she came to Crankworx in 2009 to win the Garbanzo DH by a crushing 18 seconds. Chausson also went on to place first in the Air DH and Enduro DH events that same year, and left a lasting impression as the most consistently dominant cross-disciplined athlete at Crankworx. Anne-Caro remains the most decorated athlete in the history of downhill mountain biking, male or female, to date.
After winning the Crankworx Slopestyle event in 2006, Cam Zink struggled with season-altering injuries including multiple knee injuries that required surgery, a broken tibia, and a dislocated wrist, which also required surgery. In 2010 Zink was finally able to come to Crankworx without having had some kind of surgery the off-season prior. He reclaimed the first place podium in the Slopestyle, making his win one of the greatest comeback stories in freeride mountain bike history. Zink won with a near perfect run that earned him a score of 95.
In 2010, Brian Lopes won the Crankworx Air DH event for the fifth year in a row. Lopes is one of the most recognized names in mountain biking, known for his skills in downhill, enduro racing and most notably in the dual and 4X race formats. Lopes’ Air DH winning streak was finally put to an end in 2011 by Andrew Neethling of South Africa who scored the fastest time of the day at 4:13.34.
At Crankworx Whistler 2011, Brandon Semenuk won the Red Bull Joyride Slopestyle event in front of his home crowd. Only 20 years-old at the time, Semenuk went on to win the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour that same year. Semenuk is a born and raised Whistler local and remains the crowd favourite at the Slopestyle event year after year. Semenuk did not podium at the 2012 event but will return in 2013 and attempt to reclaim his title.
Stevie Smith took home a hat-trick of Crankworx glory in 2012 after he finished first in the Garbanzo DH, the Air DH and the Canadian Open DH events. Smith is the only athlete at Crankworx to have ever achieved this feat and is the most decorated Canadian downhill mountain bike athlete ever.