First they let him in, then he took the win.
Finn Iles made the most of his special exemption into the Official Whip-Off World Championships at Crankworx Whistler on Thursday, Aug. 12, as the 14-year-old won the event and the $2,000 grand prize.
"I'm unbelievably stoked," said Iles. "I don't even know what to say. It's so awesome."
Iles, who was put into the contest after a social media push to let him compete, beat out defending champion Bernando Cruz for the title. Cruz finished second and Spain's Andreu Lacondeguy finished third. Casey Brown, meanwhile, had the top female whip.
"It's been pretty exciting... when I found out I was in I was so stoked," said Iles, whose whip was also selected as the fan favourite through an online poll hosted by Crankworx. "People were telling me that my whips were good enough to win, so I just tried to throw down as best I could and I ended up winning. I'm super happy."
It was a tremendous Crankworx for the Iles family overall. Jack Iles, 18, swept the three junior downhill races and was runner-up in the Giant Dual Slalom, while younger brother Finn had two DH age-group wins during the festival on top of his Whip-Off Championship.
"We're all pretty excited, especially with the Whip-Off for Finn," Jack said of the vibe at the Iles household. "I had a couple of good races... it's (a) good confidence boost and I'm feeling good on my bike."
Jack returns to World Cup downhill competition this weekend in France.
LOCALS SOLID IN FOX AIR DH
Local riders had strong outings in the Fox Air DH held Aug. 13, including Whistler resident Chris Kovarik, who took runner-up honours in the men's race behind fellow Australian Mick Hannah. Kovarik finished 1.2 seconds behind Hannah on the classic A-Line course, while Britain's Danny Hart rode into third place.
Other local riders notching strong finishes included Kyle Sangers and Zander Geddes, who were sixth and eighth, respectively, while Whistler's Ian Morrison finished one spot out of the top 10.
Jill Kintner took the women's pro title, finishing more than seven seconds ahead of the field. Dutch rider Anneke Beerten and Australia's Tracey Hannah rounded out the podium, while B.C. riders Vaea Verbeeck (fourth), Claire Buchar (fifth), Casey Brown (sixth) Jamie Hill (eighth) and Maria Darquier (ninth) hit the top 10.
COUPLE CLAIMS PUMP TRACK TITLES
Love was in the air at the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox on Aug. 14, with boyfriend-girlfriend duo Barry Nobles and Caroline Buchanan taking the men's and women's titles.
Buchanan knocked off four-time defending champ Kintner in the final, a rematch of the last round in 2013, while Beerten defeated Verbeeck for third.
"To do it the same night as my teammate, Barry Nobles... he's also my boyfriend, so fairy-tale night for both of us," said Buchanan. "We've never been at the top of a podium together."
Nobles beat France's Tomas Lemoine for the men's title, while Crankworx veteran Paul Basagoitia topped Mike Day in the battle for the last podium spot.
"I've been in a few pump track events before and always cheese it come finals," said Nobles. "It was good to finally make the finals and actually take the win."
KINTNER, ROPELATO SLAY SLALOM
Mitch Ropelato added another win to his impressive Crankworx résumé with a victory in the Giant Dual Slalom, while Kintner got back atop the podium when she took the women's title.
Ropelato beat Nobles in the final, finishing a tough march through the bracket that required wins over Hart, Kyle Strait and Connor Fearon. Hart knocked off local boy Geddes in the small final to finish third.
Kintner went head-to-head with Beerten in the women's final and came out on top, while Buchanan bested Alanna Columb for third place.