In what now seems like a blur of hot sun, dusty tracks, blazing speed and big air, Crankworx Whistler officially came to an end on Sunday, Aug. 14 with the conclusion of the Canadian Open Downhill race.
The 10-day event finally returned to Whistler three years since it was last here in 2019, and based on the electricity and excitement in the air right from start to finish, it’s clear the whole town was going through a bit of mountain bike withdrawal.
“Early on in the week, it felt like we were hosting the world’s largest mountain biking family reunion, as people haven’t gotten together in years like this. People were really looking forward to it and I think that was the part of the drive that kept us going, was just how excited the community was for the return of Crankworx and we just want wanted to deliver for that,” said Crankworx managing director Darren Kinnaird.
“That feeling just sort of built throughout the whole week, and it kind of blew my expectations. Just to see the number of people that came out [for Red Bull Joyride on Aug. 13] was mind-blowing.”
Looking back on the week, Kinnaird pointed to Tomas Lemoine gapping the entire last feature in Saturday, Aug. 13’s Red Bull Joyride in front of nearly 30,000 fans as not only the highlight of the week, but one of the moments that will live on in Crankworx history for years to come.
“I mean that move, that could be talked about for the next 50 years in mountain biking. The last time there was a moment like that might have been when Darren Berrecloth 360’d the road gap in like 2005,” he said. “It was just one of these quintessential, defining moments of Crankworx. You don’t get those every year.”
But outside of that moment, there were so many more throughout the week, and almost too much going on each day to stay on top of, but at the same time, so many great storylines that are worth a spotlight.
THE FRENCH ARE COMING
But perhaps the best storyline coming out of Crankworx was the start of the French invasion seen towards the end of the festival, as Adrien Loron took the top spot in the Ultimate Pumptrack Challenge on Aug. 10 followed by Tomas Lemoine earning first in Speed and Style on Aug. 11.
Adding to the country’s success, Timothé Bringer and Lemoine both landed on the Red Bull Joyride podium on Aug. 13. That podium finish also moved Lemoine into the top spot in the King of Crankworx rankings. Maybe Lemoine was right when he said, “France [was] ready for it.”
On the other side of the coin was the Official Whip-Off World Championships on Aug. 12.
A perennial fan-favourite event, its popularity was readily apparent as a few thousand people made the trek up—or down if they were on their bikes—to Crabapple Hits to watch all the biggest names in the sport absolutely sending it for a couple hours.
On the men’s side, Squamish downhill phenom Jackson Goldstone took the win, proving he’s no one trick pony in the mountain biking world. American Allan Cooke took second prize, with yet another Frenchman, Edgar Briole, taking third.
On the women’s side it was New Zealand’s Vinny Armstrong taking the gold, followed by American rider Brooke Anderson and Sechelt’s Gracey Hemstreet following up in second and third, respectively.
However, the coolest moment of the day didn’t involve any jumps at all. Before the Whip-Off got underway, Slopestyle legend Brandon Semenuk was on hand to present Hemstreet with her very own Red Bull helmet, a well-earned achievement for the rider who has dominated the Junior World Cup circuit to the tune of four gold, one silver and two bronze medals in 2022.
FROM AMATEUR TO ELITE
Wrapping up the exciting week of non-stop action was the Canadian Open Downhill race on Sunday, Aug. 14. Despite being the Canadian Open, it turned out to be the Aussie show, with Australian riders taking the top two spots in Elite Women’s and the top three spots in Elite Men’s.
Unsurprisingly, the top spot in the Elite categories went to Tracey Hannah and Troy Brosnan, who have won the last five- and six-straight Canadian opens, respectively. Following them up were Peter Knott and Kye A’Hern in Men’s and Sian A’Hern and Great Britain’s Louise Ferguson in the Women’s.
Pemberton’s Lucas Cruz and Vernon’s Vaea Verbeeck both landed just off the podium in fourth place, while Hemstreet—competing in the Elite category instead of the U19—took fifth.
Just as the top results in the Elite categories were unsurprising, so was the U19 Men’s category, which saw Jackson Goldstone continue his domination of the sport, taking first place, followed by Lucas’ younger brother Tegan Cruz in second and Whistler’s Marcus Goguen in third. On the Women’s side it was a race of just two, with Canadian Eva Leikermoser getting the edge on Australia’s Connor Mielke.
But as much fun as it is watching the best riders in the world do their thing, Crankworx is about more than just a best-on-best competition. It’s a chance for amateur riders to get up close and personal with the pros; to celebrate the sport right down the ranks to the next generation of riders.
“Crankworx is the ultimate combination of the mountain biking community, and having locals and amateurs, and kids even, getting to be a part of that is pretty special,” said Kinnaird. “And I think that’s part of the magic of Crankworx, is that you get Cinderella stories, you get to be in the race with your heroes. And that is such an important, essential part of Crankworx.”
One of those Cinderella stories came in the Senior Women’s category of the Air DH on Aug. 8, where local rider Paris Boucher not only won the event, but actually put up a time that would have slotted her into fifth in the Pro Women’s category right ahead of big names like Hemstreet and Australia’s Harriet Burbidge-Smith.
Similarly, at just 13 years old, Whistler’s own Cameron Bragg took the win in the U15 Women’s category of AirDH with a time that would have slotted her within the top-10 of the pro category.
Last but not least, Whistler also saw incredible racing from local groms in the Kidsworx events. Among some of the top riders throughout the week were the Harrisson brothers, Sebastien and Xavier, who took first and third in B-Line DH, second and third in EWS, fifth and third in XC, and first and fourth in the Air DH Invitational on A-Line, respectively.
Similarly, on the girls side of things, Canadian riders Ruby Wells and Skye Sherman took second and third in B-Line and fourth and second in EWS, respectively, with Wells adding another first-place finish at the Air DH Invitational.
Find full results at crankworx.com.