By Andrew Mitchell
This Canada Day weekend Whistler will play host to the top 35 BMX dirt jumpers from around the world at the third annual Red Bull Elevation.
Following a format conceived by Canadian BMX legend Jay Miron the Red Bull uses the slope to reduce pedaling and give riders a chance to hit more jumps in every set, get more air, and attempt bigger tricks and combinations than ever before.
This year the course was built with extra berms up top to help riders control their speed more easily, a new hip jump at the corner, and a longer gap at the bottom. There are also three different line choices up top, and the jumps are being arranged to let riders transition from one line to another to make that perfect run — and judging from past years it will take a perfect run to win the top prize of $10,000. There is also a $5,000 award for the best trick, to be decided after a jam session after the main contest wraps up.
Eight countries will be represented this year, with two Canadians in the running — Parksville’s Darren Berrecloth and Sydney’s Matt Beyers.
The whole show is spectator friendly, and visible from anywhere in Mountain Square at the base of Whistler Mountain. Friday, June 29 is practice day, the qualifiers take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the finals run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, followed by the Hard Trick Contest. The awards will take place just after 6 p.m., followed by a free concert by Metric.
Pique Newsmagazine caught up with Darren Berrecloth, just back from Europe, to talk about the evolution of mountain biking and BMX. Berrecloth, also known as Bearclaw, is something of a rarity in the dirt jumping world in that he has made the cross-over into freeride mountain biking. In 2003 he won the inaugural Slopestyle Expression Session held in Whistler, a unique showcase of bike park skills that has since spawned dozens of other pro events around the world.
Berrecloth has remained at the forefront of slopestyle through its growth, which is no small feat considering the number of talented riders getting into the sport. He spent the past two months in Europe going from contest to contest with his mountain bike, and rode away with the overall Qashqai Challenge against the top names in the sport. Now he’s back in Canada for Red Bull Elevation, the Kokanee Crankworx Slopestyle, and his own event at Mt. Washington, the Bearclaw Invitational.