By Andrew Mitchell
It should be a typical Canada Day weekend in Whistler. Visitors will pack the hotels and patios, locals will line the Village Stroll for the annual Canada Day parade, and the world’s top BMX riders will attempt to one-up one another in the world’s first gravity-assisted dirt jump contest.
Because of the tilted layout and size of the jumps, competitors have made several successful first jump attempts, including the first triple tail whip, and the first no-hander front flip.
The ability to spin, flip, and combine tricks is mandatory for riders to even be asked to this event.
Red Bull has guaranteed the participation of all the top riders in the world with a $10,000 cheque for first place, and a new $5,000 prize purse for “The Big Trick”. That award will be decided after a half-hour jam session following the regular contest, and will be open to all competitors.
“This is the biggest dirt jumping BMX event in the world by a lot,” said Red Bull event director Kenny MacIntyre. “It means a lot to the BMX community, it means a lot to Whistler, and it means a lot to us. It’s the best showcase for the progression of the sport you’ll see anywhere.”
The venue will be located in the same general area as past contests, but with a few changes this year based on rider feedback. The set-up can be seen from the village, with the top half on the Whistler Mountain access road and the lower half on the ski out to Excalibur Gondola.
“We’ve changed the top half of the course significantly, and the bottom section of the course will have a couple of different line choices, and the size of the bottom jump has been changed to make it a little longer and create some new possibilities for the athletes,” said MacIntyre.
“The top half will have a few more switchbacks to slow the riders down a little bit. On a 20-inch bike it’s hard to slow yourself down, so we have the course coming back up the hill twice to give riders more control and do some bigger tricks. Last year they were holding on for dear life.
“This way it’s a little more like traditional BMX, with banks and berms, and at turn two we’ll separate the group into the three different lines to give the riders more options. All the lines are transferable… so riders can mix up the sets any way they choose.”