For years, Whistler has been at the forefront of mountain biking.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park invented a whole new kind of riding that has gone global, influencing bike designs and riding styles. And while North Shore trailbuilders can take the credit for building imaginative wooden stunts in the forest (although A River Runs Through It is also influential), it was Whistler that merged North Shore-style riding with big mountain riding and BMX to create the sport of mountain bike slopestyle, the most exciting event going these days.
Brandon Semenuk, the most progressive rider in the sport with wins at every major slopestyle event in the world, is also a Whistler product.
Crankworx Whistler innovations over the years also include one of the longest downhill competitions in the world (Garbanzo DH), the first big money Pump Track competition and one of the first new era dual slalom competitions. Last year's inaugural tailwhip competition was also huge, drawing a huge crowd of mountain bike fans.
And while innovation is part of the festival, Crankworx Whistler also pays homage to some of the more niche elements of the sport, providing a venue for the Trialsworx trials competition and bringing back the Fat Tire Criterium.
This year there's plenty of new things taking place that will generate even more excitement, including a sold-out Enduro World Series event and the Canada Cup finals for cross-country and downhill (with the downhill finals doubling as the Canadian Open DH).
All told, there are 14 events on the schedule this year, if you include the annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Championships. Most of the events are open to the general public, although there are a few invite-only competitions on the list.
Friday, Aug. 9
Fat Tire Crit — Whistler Olympic Plaza gets converted into a racecourse, with cyclists powering through laps of an 800-metre course. The men race for 20 minutes plus five laps and the women 15-plus-three, with riders getting pulled off course every few laps until only a few remain to challenge in the final sprint. There are also primes available at different times, creating a race-within-a-race.
The women's race gets underway at 6:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7 p.m., with $4,500 in prize money available.
Saturday, Aug. 10
Dual Speed and Style — A few years ago saw the return of the dual slalom discipline to mountain biking with courses that included jumps and berms as well as gated slalom sections.
As always, Crankworx organizers took things a bit further and built courses that are bigger and burlier than anything else out there, and then last year organizers decided to add another twist to the event by adding a few bigger jumps and giving riders scores for adding tricks to their runs. It's a unique format that's been replicated a few times since, where being the fastest doesn't necessarily mean winning.
The event is invite only with 32 riders in the qualifier and the top eight advancing to the finals.
This year's event will have four features and one point will be available for each feature that will be worth a pre-determined amount of time. Athletes will still be competing for the fastest trip down the course, but judges will award points — and time deductions — to the athlete they thought handled each particular feature the best.
The qualifiers run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, with the finals running 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Prize money is $7,500.