One of the world’s biggest bike festivals is also one of the busiest, with one or more events taking place every day for the second half of Crankworx. With the world’s best mountain bike riders in the start gate for every event, the races came down to hundredths of a second, while the judged events came down to fractions of points.
Some of the highlights include: Andreu Lacondeguy finally nailing the double backflip at the top of the slopestyle and celebrating all the way to the bottom; Greg Minnaar stopping mid-race in the finals of the Giant Slalom to make sure fellow racer Brian Lopes was okay after a crash; Lopes three-peating in the Air Downhill; Greg Watts’s unbelievable flip-whip in the VW Big Trick contest; the surprising performance of Kelowna’s Casey Groves; Sam Hill blowing the field away in the Canadian Open DH, Rachel Atherton outracing the boys in the first ever Death Ride after the Canadian Open DH, and trials rider John Tester’s nearly perfect lines on a challenging course.
Jim Beam Air Downhill
A-Line is one of the busiest and burliest bike trails in the world with over 200 features — berms, jumps, step-ups and step-downs from top to bottom.
The Air Downhill is also one of the longest running downhill events in Whistler, and this year attracted a field of over 300 riders.
All eyes were on Brian Lopes, one of the world’s top four-cross racers, and the reigning champion of the event for the previous two Crankworx festivals. Lopes did not disappoint, as the last rider down the course on Wednesday.
His time was four minutes, 22.1 seconds, edging out Greg Minnaar of South Africa who was previously in the hot seat with a 4:23.42. Whistler’s Chris Kovarik, who had a solid Crankworx all around, was third in 4:27.60.
“A-Line is a really great trail to ride, but when it comes to racing on it, you need to be on point,” said Lopes. “It’s a technical race and with the levels of riders here, every mistake counts.”
For the pro women, Whistler’s Rebecca McQueen placed first in 4:51.05, followed by Micayla Gatto of West Vancouver in 4:51.82 and Stephanie Nychka of Alberta third in 4:53.59. Showing how much home field advantage played, World Cup stars Fionn Griffiths and Anneke Beerten were fourth and fifth respectively.
Squamish riders Jessica Allouche and Lauren Rosser were first and second in Junior Amateur Women 13 to 18, with Holly Feniak of Sechelt in third.