The 10-day Crankworx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival wrapped up Sunday and by all measures it was a success. For the most part numbers were up for events, and judging by the wide range of hometowns represented the organizers succeeded in making it a North American and global event.
The crowds were also larger with a reported 15,000 spectators turning out for the Kokanee Slopestyle in the Boneyard on Saturday night.
"No where else in the world, or at any other time, is the progression of mountain biking so apparent," said Rob McSkimming, VP of business development for Whistler-Blackcomb.
The third annual Crankworx festival was organized by Events Whistler, which includes Whistler-Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and the RMOW. The addition of headline sponsors like Kokanee also provide national exposure for the event, while enabling organizers to increase the prize money this year by over $10,000.
Lopes, Ashton claim Air DH crowns
Junior category overflows with 114 starters
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s famed A-Line has the distinction of being the most ridden trail anywhere in the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s wide, smooth, and completely covered from top to bottom with over 200 table top jumps, step-ups, step-downs, berms, drops and other features.
Hence the popularity of the annual Jim Beam Air Downhill on Wednesday, July 26, which has sold out for the last three of its five years. The race is also getting more international, attracting some of the top World Cup racers as well as the top national, regional and local riders.
California’s Brian Lopes, who placed second last year, crossed the line in 4:19.05 to take the win. Not far behind was Cedric Gracia of France, who won the event the previous two years and crossed the line in 4:21.43. Australian rider Bryn Atkinson placed third in 4:21.43.
Andrew Mitchell, who won Sunday’s national downhill champion, was fourth in 4:22.05.
Jeff Beatty, the top Whistler rider in the 2005 Air Downhill, missed the event with an injury, but one local rider, Dave West, cracked the top 10, finishing in seventh place.
Other Sea to Sky riders in the top-30 of the field were Adam Billinghurst 19 th , J.S. Therrien 20 th , Craig Yates 23 rd , James Bashford 27 th , Kyle Ritchie 28 th , Kenny Smith 29 th , and Tyler Morland 30 th .
In the women’s pro event, Whistler’s Jen Ashton took first place while edging out some of the top World Cup downhill racers.
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