By Andrew Mitchell
If nothing else, the Crankworx freeride mountain bike festival has proved that there’s an enthusiastic audience for gravity-fueled sports. A recent study estimated that Crankworx attracted in the neighbourhood of 55,000 unique visitors to Whistler with an economic impact of $11.5 million.
Given the popularity of the festival with riders, the industry, and fans, it only made sense to export the model to other resorts.
This week Whistler-Blackcomb and its partners at Events Whistler announced plans to franchise the Crankworx festival, with a three-day festival in the Intrawest-operated resort of Winter Park, Colorado from July 5-7.
“Kokanee Crankworx in Whistler… has established itself as the most exciting freeride mountain bike event in the world,” said Bob Holme, Winter Park’s bike park and youth marketing manager. “Crankworx Colorado is going to produce mind-blowing feats of athleticism and an unbelievable spectacle for spectators, whether young, young at heart, hardcore enthusiast or checking out the freeride mountain bike scene for the first time.”
The festival will run over the Independence Day long weekend and include a cross-country race, a downhill race modeled after the Air Downhill, a super D (uphill-downhill race), a big air competition, and a slopestyle on a course designed by John Cowan.
Cowan helped to organize a pair of jump jam contests at Crankworx in recent years, and is credited for developing Hell Track I in California and Hell Track II in Kamloops.
“We’ll definitely be helping with some marketing, and figuring out what kinds of events they want to run, as well as with some connections in the media, to athletes, and that kind of stuff,” said Rob McSkimming, who oversees the Whistler Mountain Bike Park for Whistler-Blackcomb in the summer months, and sits on Events Whistler.
“We’re hoping that the top riders, especially in slopestyle and the gravity racers will attend both events, we definitely scheduled it with that thought in mind,” he added. “It actually sets up pretty well, given the international schedule, and the early indications from some teams we’ve talked to are good. It should be good for the athletes, and good for the sport as well.”
In Whistler, Crankworx is produced by Whistler-Blackcomb with Events Whistler partners at Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. In Colorado, the events will be produced by the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Forest Service.
While Winter Park will be producing its own event, Whistler will help out with advice, contacts, and its relationship with the industry.
A website for the event will be posted April 15, at www.crankworxcolorado.com . Whistler’s event, which runs from July 21 to 29 is www.crankworx.com.