In the second year of the Crankworx World Tour, two new contestants are on pace to take the overall King and Queen of Crankworx titles.
After Great Britain's Bernard Kerr and the Netherlands' Anneke Beerten took home the honours — and additional $25,000 — last year, two of 2015's closest challengers have surged into the lead this year.
On the men's side, France's Adrien Loron holds the advantage heading into the season's third and final festival. Loron finished just 10 points back of Kerr last year, but has a slightly healthier bump of 40 points on second-place rider Tomas Slavik and 60 points on New Zealand's Matt Walker at this point.
As for the women, American Jill Kintner has stayed healthy and is ahead rounding the final bend. The Seattle competitor is 315 points up on last year's runner-up, Casey Brown, while Beerten is running a distant third, 555 points off the pace. Last season, Kintner was injured in Rotorua, but had an outstanding festival in Whistler in 2015 to ultimately place third behind Beerten, who ended up 125 points up on Canadian Brown.
With wins counting for 150 points, other podium positions notching 100 and 75 points, respectively, and point rewards in place all the way down to 10th, Kintner should be in fantastic position to hold off Brown, barring injury.
Loron, though, closed the gap on Kerr here in Whistler last year with a victory in the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge. The Briton used a 10th-place finish at the Canadian Open DH — the festival's final event — to break the tie and earn the overall win.
Like last year, Loron, 24, plans to load up his schedule to maximize his opportunities to bank more points, saying the overall title is on his mind.
"Of course. I was pretty close to getting it last year and I needed 10 points," he said. "This year, I'm going to try to get lots of points... I'm going to do my best to win it this year."
Loron, the defending pump track series champion, will look to retain that title as he and countrymen Chaney Guennet and Tomas Lemoine are part of a three-way tie for first with American Barry Nobles just 20 points back. He also holds a slight five-point lead on Slavik and has opened up a 25-point margin on Great Britain's Daryl Brown in the dual speed and style standings. A strong start to the season this spring in Rotorua, New Zealand helped put Loron in great position on all fronts.
"I was pretty happy with the New Zealand results when I got two podiums, in speed and style and pump track," he said. "Taking a victory in speed and style, I really would like to win one speed and style event.
"I would like to get the title again in pump track."
Loron added he enjoys coming to Whistler to wrap up the Crankworx trifecta.
"It's one of my main events of the year," he said. "I trained a lot for it and I came out here to enjoy Whistler and have enough time to train on the terrain."