This is the first year for the CrankWorx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival, but in many ways its just the next incarnation of a string of Whistler summer mountain bike festivals that have helped to push the sport to a whole new level.
Some of cornerstone events, like the Air Downhill down A-Line, are already in their third year. Events like the Provincial Downhill Mountain Bike Championships and the Garbanzo Downhill are new, but only because this is the first year that B.C. Cycling has sanctioned provincial championships and the first year of the Garbanzo expansion to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
The CrankWorx weekend gets underway on Thursday, July 22 and runs until Sunday with five major events, trials and freeride mountain bike demos in the village, concerts and movie showings in the evenings, and a huge expo at the base of the mountain.
All of the events and demos are designed to be as spectator-friendly as possible, and visitors to the resort will know from the moment they arrive that theyve landed in the middle of a massive mountain bike festival and that you dont have to ride yourself to appreciate it. More than 5,000 fans are expected to turn out for the slopestyle event, which Whistler was the first to host last year.
For mountain bike fans, the events will highlight the progression in the sport and the fact that riders are going faster, hucking bigger, tackling harder obstacles and learning new tricks every year. Some of the biggest names in freeride mountain biking many of whom now choose to live in Whistler will be the ones pushing the progression as they compete for $30,000 in cash and prizes over the five events.
Its an exciting time for the sport, and CrankWorx and the festivals that came before it is one of the reasons why.
Of the five freeride and downhill competitions held during CrankWorx, four are open to the public and in some cases there are a variety of different competitive categories to choose from.
The first event of the weekend is the third annual Air Downhill, a race down Whistlers renowned A-Line trail which features more than 60 tabletop jumps, step-ups, berms, drops and other obstacles.
The Nissan Boneyard Biker-X takes place on Friday, with heats of four riders taking on the biker-cross course at the base of Whistler Mountain. The course itself will be a little more difficult as work crews add new features.
The day starts with a timed qualifier, to establish seeding. In the evening the competitions will begin with the top two riders in each bracket moving on to the next round.