As Whistler Blackcomb (WB) vice-president of development, Rob McSkimming had a major hand in helping to create Crankworx for its first year in 2004.
As the festival rolls into its 15th year, it will hold the first Crankworx World Tour Awards and After-Party at the Whistler Conference Centre on Saturday, Aug. 18. At the ceremony, McSkimming will receive a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the bike industry.
While he's taken aback by the honour, McSkimming plans to use his platform to give credit to numerous others who worked alongside him to build some special keystone projects.
"I'm flabbergasted," McSkimming said. "It is quite the honour, and hopefully it's an opportunity to set the record straight so that everybody knows that things that happened here, whether it's Crankworx or the bike park, it's not something any one person can really be recognized for or take credit for."
Some of those McSkimming recognizes as giants include Joyride founders Paddy Kaye and Chris Winter, as well as producer Kristen Robinson, late shredder Richard Juryn, original general manager Jeremy Roche, and current general manager Darren Kinnaird. He also thanked builders and advisors Tom Prochazka, Richard Schley, John Cowan and fellow organizers Derek Westerlund and Mark "Skip" Taylor, as well as John Rae and Bob Andrea from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, which was a partner alongside Tourism Whistler and WB at the outset.
McSkimming, who also oversaw the creation of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, said it was key for Whistler to seize the opportunity it had to create a mountain biking mecca—complete with a host celebration—as the sport was beginning to emerge.
"We were so lucky to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "I had no idea when we started this thing 15, 16 years ago that we'd be doing it for 11 days. Now, we probably have 40 different events we're doing this week. And to have three other events around the globe, that's not something I saw clearly a long time ago."
As Crankworx has grown, expanding to France, Austria and New Zealand, McSkimming is honoured the headquarters remains nestled in the Sea to Sky.
"One thing I'm really proud of is we created this festival concept here and that has really resonated in the world of mountain biking," he said.
In addition to having a front-row seat for jaw-dropping slopestyle moments, McSkimming has been proud of how the festival provided a stage for Whistler athletes, such as slopestyle star Brandon Semenuk winning Red Bull Joyride five times and Jesse Melamed capturing the Canadian Open Enduro last year. But it starts younger, as he's thrilled to offer Kidsworx events for the next generation.
McSkimming is set to retire this October and is looking forward to the chance to kick back with his family.
"I couldn't have had a better job working with better people, so I'll be a little sad to wind that up, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter at the same time," he said. "I'm going to join the retirement club and see if I can join (former WB COO) Dave Brownlie and get 100 ski days in next year."
Joyride set for Saturday
Before McSkimming and a plethora of talented riders are honoured, it's worth checking out Red Bull Joyride, the slopestyle event that headlines Crankworx every year.
Local legend Brandon Semenuk, who won his fifth title last year, will not be competing this year.
Instead, the roster includes: Italy's Diego Caverzasi and Torquato Testa; Germany's Erik Fedko; Sweden's Max Fredriksson and Emil Johansson; Belgium's Tomas Genon; Poland's Szymon Godziek; Great Britain's Matt Jones; France's Tomas Lemoine; U.S.A.'s Ryan Nyquist and Nicholi Rogatkin; Austria's Bernd Winkler; and Canada's Anthony Messere and Brett Rheeder. Rogatkin is entering looking for the Triple Crown of Slopestyle and its $25,000 bonus after winning the Les Gets and Innsbruck events.
Action gets underway at 4:30 p.m.