Home field advantage definitely helped local riders, but in the end the top pros in the world showed exactly why they’re the top pros.
The second annual Crankworx mountain bike festival wrapped up on Sunday after five hot, dusty days of competitions. Over $20,000 in cash was awarded, as well as thousands of dollars worth of prizes, with huge crowds coming out to watch the more spectator-friendly events at the base of Whistler Mountain.
So far the feedback from the riders, spectators and Whistler Village businesses has been positive, according to John Rae of the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Whistler Events Bureau.
"We are still collecting feedback, but so far the top line is very positive," he said. "There will be lessons learned, but we have every intention of coming back next year. We’ll be looking at ways to strengthen events, but as far as we’re concerned it’s a really good event and a really good format to follow next year."
All of the events, with the exception of the Bikercross, sold out this year, with a record number of juniors and amateur riders. Women’s categories also grew compared to past years.
Jim Beam Air Downhill
Organizers knew it would sell out, but even they were surprised by the last minute demand for spots in the fifth annual Air Downhill. More than 200 riders took part, racing down Whistler’s famed A-Line run.
With bigger jumps and more obstacles to negotiate, the times were slightly slower than previous years, and some riders collapsed at the finish after pedaling the whole way down.
In the Pro Men’s category, Whistler’s Jeff Beatty stunned the crowd when he took the hot seat at the bottom of the course as the 12 th rider on the course, and held onto it for almost 30 riders. California’s Brian Lopes finally bumped Beatty out of the hot seat with fewer than 10 riders left to race, but Beatty held onto fifth overall as the top Canadian rider behind four of the top racers on the World Cup circuit.
First place went to Cedric Gracia of France, who lives part-time in Whistler and knows A-Line well.
"This is my race," he joked. "They should take the ‘A’ out of A-Line and put in a CG."
Gracia had to force himself to settle down after he completely cleared the transition over the first table and nearly lost control. After going through a few corners he started to speed up again, and nearly lost control again when he came in to the GLC drop too quickly and landed to the side in the grass.