With plenty of overlap between Crankworx and the Freeride Mountain Bike Association's (FMBA) top level already, combining the two just made sense, according to Crankworx Events Inc. general manager Darren Kinnaird.
The two organizations announced on Feb. 8 that they are teaming up heading into the 2018 season to create the Slopestyle World Championship.
The change will mainly be felt in Germany, which hosted the only FMBA diamond-level slopestyle event outside of the Crankworx purview in each of the past three seasons.
Kinnaird said the two groups have worked in the change since October and said some athletes have pushed for the change as well.
"It made sense to have one combined story, one combined series. It's easier for fans, easier for athletes," he said. "The Crankworx events were becoming the pinnacle of the sport.
"We've come up with a new name, a new direction and a new target goal for the athletes."
"Crankworx Whistler was one of the main reasons we created the FMB World Tour back in the day and we've been partners for a long time now. We recognized though that having two separate series rankings complicated things on multiple levels. It felt natural to sit down together and work in unity from now on," FMBA president Tarek Rasouli said in a release.
For the 2018 season, Kinnaird said the four slopestyle events will all be affiliated with the Crankworx festivals in Rotorua, New Zealand in March, Les Gets, France and Innsbruck, Austria in June, and here in Whistler in August. He added the Whistler event, the Red Bull Joyride, will have special status as the tour final each year.
There won't be major changes to how the competitions themselves are run, but scoring for the overall title will shift from the combined top score at each event to a point system based on a rider's placement at those events.
Each event will feature 14 riders, with six of them — Emil Johansson of Sweden, Nicholi Rogatkin of the U.S., Szymon Godziek of Poland, Ryan Nyquist of the U.S., Brett Rheeder of Canada and Diego Caverzasi of Italy — pre-qualifying by virtue of being the top six riders on the FMBA's diamond circuit in 2017. The next six riders will be determined by the tour's standings six weeks before an event, while the final two spots will be wildcards who can win a spot at an FMBA gold-level event leading into the Slopestyle World Championship competition. Any Red Bull Joyride champion automatically earns lifetime entry, as well.
In other Crankworx news, the Enduro World Series got a jump on releasing its 2019 schedule with a slow rollout that culminated on Feb. 12.
Whistler was confirmed as the host of the sixth of eight races, but four brand-new venues will highlight the schedule, including: Canazei, Italy; Les Orres, France; Northstar, Calif; and Zermatt, Switzerland. Returning venues apart from Whistler are: Rotorua, New Zealand; Derby, Australia and Madeira, Spain.
As for the 2018 schedule, the CamelBak Canadian Open Enduro is slated for Aug. 12 here in Whistler as part of Crankworx. The seven other races are: Lo Barnechea, Chile on March 24 and 25; Manizales, Colombia on March 31 and April 1; Olargues and Montagnes du Caroux, France on May 12 and 13; Petzen, Austria and Jamnica, Slovenia on June 30 and July 1; La Thuile, Italy on July 21 and 22; Ainsa and Sorbrare, Spain on Sept. 22 and 23 and Finale Ligure, Italy on Sept. 29 and 30.