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Athlete list gets bigger and better

Top names in Whistler for Gravity Festival freeride events The list of athletes participating in the Joyride BikerCross, Air Downhill and Slopestyle Expression Session – featured in the Whistler Summer Gravity Festival – is a virtual who

Top names in Whistler for Gravity Festival freeride events

The list of athletes participating in the Joyride BikerCross, Air Downhill and Slopestyle Expression Session – featured in the Whistler Summer Gravity Festival – is a virtual who’s who of pro mountain bikers.

The list includes World Cup racers, bike video regulars, and the top Whistler locals.

Chris Winter, the media coordinator for the festival and the co-organizer of Joyride said that non-sanctioned events are becoming more and more popular.

"Way, way more prize money and more exposure," said Winter.

The Joyride event has more than $7,375 in prize money up for grabs, and the Air Downhill as $4,550. The Slopestyle Expression Session, which is invite only, has a purse of $3,075 to give away.

In addition, all of the top video production companies will be in Whistler to capture the event, as well the full assortment of mountain bike media from around the world.

Unsanctioned events are also more flexible.

"Non-sanctioned events are able to evolve with the times, stay fresh, have fun and complement what the spectators are into and what the technology can handle," Winter said.

As a local rider, Winter also likes the fact that locals will get a chance to compete against the top riders in the world.

The list of star athletes in the Joyride Bikercross includes:

Steve Peat of Great Britain is currently ranked third in the world in downhill and 15 th in the Four-Cross (4X), and can ride just about anything.

Cedric Gracia of France is ranked number one in downhill, number two in 4-Cross, and is the reigning world champion in both disciplines.

Shaums March hails from the U.S., lives in Squamish, and is one of the top freeriders in the corridor. He’s big, fast, and aggressive.

Kirt Voreis is one of the top American riders in both downhill and 4X disciplines, and does pretty well at freeride events.

Andrew Shandro is a former Canadian downhill champion and a North Shore rider. He gave up World Cup to spend more time with his family, but at the same time has cranked things up a notch, appearing in several freeride movies.

Greg Minnaar of Russia is the 2001 world downhill champion, and is currently ranked 11 th in both downhill and 4X on the World Cup circuit.

Vancouver’s Darren Berrecloth is pro freerider with a strong BMX background. He routinely cleans up in dirt jump events and was third in the Red Bull Rampage.

Wade Simmons of North Vancouver needs no introduction, as one of the most influential – and insane – freeriders in the world. He will jump or drop just about anything, has lots of style, and is a strong rider when he branches out into downhill and bikercross events. He is just coming off a serious leg injury that left him with some nerve damage in his shin.

Richie Schley of Whistler is one of the father’s of freeriding, combining big mountain freeriding and BMX skills long before the mountain bike world caught on.

Thomas Vanderham of North Vancouver is just 19 years old, and has been hailed as the next big freeride and downhill star.

California’s Kyle Strait is 16 years old and is well known for his dirt jumping abilities. He also likes to compete in downhill and 4X events, and could dominate in his age category if he didn’t prefer to race the big guys.

Gareth Dyer is one of Whistler’s top freeriders with a special affinity for the dirt jumps. He is one of the top names in mountain biking, turning up at events around North America where he impresses judges and crowds with his guts and style.

Cory Derpak grew up in Whistler, and although he is only 18 he has already appeared in some of the top mountain bike videos. Nothing seems to intimidate Derpak, who is famous for building backyard bike stunts that put the North Shore to shame. Last year he won the junior Joyride against a strong field.

Brian Lopes, last year’s champion and one of the top World Cup riders, won’t be competing this year due to an injury, but has decided to come to Whistler anyway to catch the action.

The Slopestyle Expression Session list includes Simmons, Vanderham, Schley, Dyer, Derpak, Strait, March, Berrecloth, as well as:

John Cowan specializes in dirt jumps, where he is the undisputed champion, but isn’t afraid to branch out and try things, like the first loop on a mountain bike filmed in Squamish last year. He rides a hard tail.

Timo Pritzel of Germany is a European BMX freestyle champion and wowed crowds in Whistler last year with a pair of backflips off the gap jumps.

Vancouver’s Ian Moult has been a mountain bike star since he was 11, riding the most challenging routes on the North Shore. He’s now 16, a regular in Whistler, and is better than ever.

From Kamloops, 20-year-old Matt Hunter won this year’s Ultimate Freeride Challenge, which is a prize given to the rider with the best one minute mountain bike video. He is young, smooth, and aggressive.

Aaron Kempf and Kyle Scully are up and coming freeriders and downhillers from B.C. who would like nothing more than to show up the pros. Kempf, who hails from Squamish, recently finished first in the Red Bull Freezride, which is basically a slopestyle event with mountain bikes on snow.

Aaron Chase of the U.S. is steadily piling up medals in downhill events, and could make the leap to World Cup. He also performs in bike stunt shows, and can pull off some amazing tricks.

Chris Duncan of Florida was second in the same Red Bull contest, and is one of the top BMX riders in the U.S.

Andrew Cho is a North Shore and Whistler rider who goes hard on downhills and dirt jumps.

Eric Porter has gone a step farther than other BMX riders in the world of mountain biking, adding moves like rail slides into the mix.

Cameron McCaul of California is a prodigy of freeriding, pulling backflips over the gap jumps, and he was a finalist in the Ultimate Freeride Challenge.

JS Therrien of Whistler is as good as they get in these parts and that’s saying a lot.

Jay Krantz is one of the most colourful riders on the North Shore, and that’s also saying a lot. He’s pretty skilled, and shares his knowledge with mountain bikers at

Joyride takes place on Monday, July 14, with registration and training from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by the qualification rounds until 5 p.m. The contest starts at 6 p.m.

The Air Downhill is on Tuesday, July 15, with training runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and a seeding race until noon. The competition gets underway at 1 p.m.

The Slopestyle Expression Session is on Saturday, July 19, starting at 6 p.m.

For more information on the Whistler Summer Gravity Festival, including registration for events, visit