Overall titles on the line heading in to Crankworx Rotorua
It’s been a(nother) year of ups and downs, detours and pivots, big uncertainties and bigger hopes. Going all in, with no guarantees. Through it all, the world’s top mountain bikers pushed forward, went the extra mile, and made it work. And they crushed it in the process, breaking records and making history. As they do.
As we near the last stretch of competition at Crankworx Rotorua, we’re preparing the final giant cheques, pieces of hardware, and some extra special trophies and regalia. It’s time to take celebration and recognition of these athletes to the next level after a big ol’ year.
November 1-7, Crankworx Rotorua 2021 will not only play host to some of the world’s best, bringing the Crankworx Family together one last time, it will celebrate the best of the best. As the last stop of the 2021 World Tour, it will see the King and Queen of Crankworx crowned, the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship awarded and, if the stars align, history’s second Triple Crown of Slopestyle trophy handed out.
Here’s what’s coming:
King and Queen of Crankworx
For Bas van Steenbergen, Crankworx Rotorua will provide a chance for redemption. Coming out of Crankworx Rotorua 2020, he was on a tear and in the lead for the overall title. But with competition season derailed, the lead was lost.
As the current points leader following Crankworx Innsbruck and B.C., Rotorua is his chance to pick up where he left off and bring together all he’s been working for.
|I’ve raced Crankworx for many years now but I’m yet to find the success in racing I’ve been looking for. After 2019, I was actually looking to stop racing Crankworx and do something else, because I felt like I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be, but I decided to keep at it which ended up being a great decision! Walking away leading the King of Crankworx event after Rotorua in 2020 got me really fired up and made me realize the changes I’d made in my training were working. Fast forward to this year, I kept training that way and it has led me here, so that’s pretty awesome! I love traveling to NZ every year and even though it’s a crazy time, I feel super privileged to be here and able to compete in this beautiful country!—Bas van Steenbergen|
Van Steenbergen’s points lead is substantial. It would take a strong push from Tuhoto Ariki-Pene, George Brannigan or Tomas Lemoine (the three riders closest to the top who will be competing in Rotorua) to catch him.
For his partner Vaea Verbeeck, her lead going into Rotorua is also commanding. But the Crankworx World Tour in 2021 has featured one of the strongest field of women competitors in its history, with Kialani Hines, Casey Brown and Harriet Burbidge-Smith sitting on solid points totals.
|Each year on the Crankworx World Tour is a different challenge. I do feel like you need the stars to align and be ready for the opportunities to present themselves. So I prepare myself, and thankfully I enjoy riding all sorts of bikes which makes the road to success an enjoyable one. I like to hold on to the basics that the best person should win. So I’m happy if I did the best I could (which is hard to achieve in itself) and if a fellow racer wins over me, I am truly happy for them. They deserved it! My goal is simply to be the happiest I can be and to share those moments with friends, whether we’re celebrating my achievements or theirs. I think this mentality takes the pressure off and works best for me. I ride my best when I’m having fun.—Vaea Verbeeck|
Here’s what’s on the line:
• King and Queen: $20,000 CAD each
• 2nd place overall riders (male and female): $10,000 CAD each
• 3rd place overall riders (male and female): $5,000 CAD each
Full points breakdown, King and Queen of Crankworx: crankworx.com/results/series/2021-king-queen/
Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship
Since the SWC overall title launched in 2018 (prior to that year it was called the FMB Diamond Series), it has only had one owner: Brett Rheeder.
This year, a new World Champion is set to claim the coveted title, and the bonus $15,000 CAD pay cheque that comes along with it.
On a five-win streak, Emil Johansson’s lead is commanding, but not untouchable.
Next in line, and coming off, in his own words, the best run of his life at Crankworx B.C., Erik Fedko is fired up and ready to send it.
|That was definitely by best ever Slopestyle run. I was super stoked. I worked hard on practice at home. I was stoked to lay down that run, with a new trick in it, which I landed the day before finals in practice, so I was stoked about landing it in finals. It makes me feel even more stoked to go into Rotorua and throw down with all the boys and session and ride the contest and hopefully do good again. Looking forward to it.—Erik Fedko|
On top of the champion, the next five in the SWC rankings will be considered winners in their own right. The top six finishers of the season receive automatic entry into 2022’s roster of Crankworx Slopestyle contests.
Currently in the top six spots:
1. Emil Johansson – 2000 points (1st in Innsbruck, 1st in B.C.)
2. Erik Fedko – 1620 points (4nd in Innsbruck, 4th in B.C.)
3. Nicholi Rogatkin – 1556 points (2nd in Innsbruck, fifth in B.C.)
4. Tim Bringer – 1168 points (5th in Innsbruck, 8th in B.C.)
5. Torquato Testa – 1168 points (3rd in Innsbruck, 14th in B.C.)
6. Paul Couderc – 1076 points (6th in Innbsbruck, 9th in B.C.)
Full Crankworx FMB Slopestyle World Championship standings: fmbworldtour.com/en/Rankings/77/Crankworx-FMBA-SWC-Standings.html
Triple Crown of Slopestyle
This one is all Emil, or nothing.
The mystique of the Triple Crown lies in the allure of the near-impossible. A rider must win three Crankworx Slopestyle events in a single year. Created in 2015, the Triple Crown is intended to sit just beyond the grasp of most riders. The achievement is worth $25,000 CAD.
Since it was introduced, it’s been tinged with respect, awe and…anxiety. Brett Rheeder said the following in a 2018 interview, recounting his 2016 season when he won the season’s first two contests, putting him in contention for the Triple Crown ahead of Crankworx Whistler.
|I’ve never been so stressed in my life. On contest day of Red Bull Joyride, I was so stressed that I was ill. I was sick…I did two runs, and I crashed on both of my runs. And I had never done that before. The Triple Crown…destroyed me that year.—Brett Rheeder|
Two years later, Nicholi Rogatkin stomped his way into the history books, becoming the first rider to complete the feat. He remains it’s only winner.
Perhaps mindful of the pressure that can come with the prize, Johansson has kept quiet about the possibility.
In the finish corral after his win at Crankworx B.C., when the subject of the Triple Crown was broached, he would say only:
|I’m just going to try my best, as always, and see where it takes me. You can’t really do anything else.—Emil Johansson|
The stage is set. Stay tuned for details on the players, set to be released next week.
Global live coverage of Crankworx Rotorua 2021 on Red Bull TV and Pinkbike will include:
• Specialized Dual Slalom Rotorua
• Rockshox Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by Torpedo7
• CLIF Speed & Style Rotorua presented by Mons Royale
• Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza
• Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by Gull
Get all the details of the 2021 Crankworx World Tour: crankworx.com