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Whistler's next MTB generation shines

Three riders won gold at Crankworx

Three young Whistler mountain bikers came home with gold from last month's Crankworx Rotorua festival.

First, despite being just 12, Benjamin de Vall won the boys' 13-and-14 Crankworx Rotorua Downhill by 1.25 seconds over his nearest competitor.

"I felt like I was able to nail a lot of my line, but I didn't feel like I was pedalling the hardest I could on some of the flat sections, or maybe going as fast as I could in some sections," he said. "I was just going the speed that was comfortable, and trying not to totally tire myself out.

"I was trying to just to keep it clean."

When trying to suss out the track, de Vall could tell during the track walk that one particular turn was going to get blown out and, sure enough, it was a bit of a nightmare on race day, but he remembered the section and got through it.

"The track itself was good, but as far as the condition that part was in, it was [tough]," he said.

His practice laps were difficult as well, as the shadows made it challenging to hit the right lines until his later tries.

"Practice started really early that morning, so I was a little tired. The sun was just rising at that time, so the first practice laps in the trees, it was so dark. You couldn't see anything," he said. "I couldn't hit my lines until the third or fourth practice lap."

De Vall said he enjoyed seeing Whistler's legendary festival in a new spot, as it was similar while being a new experience. For example, he's not much of an angler here, but with easy access from his family's lodging, he went fishing most mornings.

"There's always the Crankworx vibe, which is super high, but when you go to a new place, there's always a different vibe and you're always doing different things," he said.

Benjamin's younger brother Landon, meanwhile, took first in the Kidsworx DH and third in the Kids Pump Track, both in the 10-and-11 division.

Landon described the track as a fun, pedally course with drier, sandier conditions, and while it was different from what he's used to in Whistler, didn't have problems getting through it.

"They didn't really affect me much," he said.

Both de Valls did some winter riding in Squamish to get prepared for the festival.

Cami Bragg, meanwhile, took home three medals after winning the Air DH invitational under-12 girls' category, while finishing second in the 10-and-11 Crankworx DH and the 10-and-11 Crankworx dual slalom.

In her Air DH win, Bragg was proud of how she kicked off the race, and it set the tone all the way down.

"My start was pretty good," she said. "It was fast.

"I liked the jumps and the berms. It was super fun."

Her father, Kal, noted that she was the first to drop on the day, which was a "daunting" position, though it gave her a clean track and fresh canvas on which to ride.

Bragg said she enjoyed seeing the Crankworx festival in a different locale as well, noting that it made it "more fun." She hopes to return in the future.

"I would definitely do it again."