Crankworx goes European 

Les 2 alpes to host freeride mountain bike events

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The Crankworx freeride mountain bike festival is going European, with the announcement last week of a new stop in France.

The new event is billed as Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, and it will feature six competitions —a slopestyle, downhill races and two new dual slalom hybrid events.

"Today, we are happy to confirm the worst-kept secret in mountain biking," said Crankworx general manager Darren Kinnaird in a release on March 23. "We have partnered with Ayton Concept to present Crankworx Les 2 Alpes in France. Our teams will work together to plan and execute on the ground, ensuring this freeride mountain bike festival lives up to the Crankworx name."

Crankworx was first held in Whistler in 2004, continuing a tradition of hosting a big, gravity-fed competition in the resort. It was here that the spot of mountain bike slopestyle was invented, combining dirt jumps, stunt riding and big mountain skills into a single contest.

Since that first weekend the festival has grown from three days to 10, and is arguably the biggest festival of its kind in the world with tens of thousands of spectators at the main events and thousands more watching live via a web feed.

Crankworx Colorado followed Crankworx Whistler in 2008 and ran for four years. That event is being replaced with a new Colorado Freeride Festival, taking place at Winter Park and Trestle Mountain Bike Park from July 26 to 29.

The French competition will run from July 9 to 15 and the Whistler event from August 10 to 19.

The event in France was originally supposed to be a standalone event, but that all changed last summer when the organizers attended Crankworx Whistler last summer and saw how it's grown.

"I've been a fan of Crankworx for years and was in Whistler for the first time with my Ayton-Giant-Les 2 Alpes Gravity MTV Team in 2004," said Sebastien Chovet, the global manager for Ayton Concept. "I have been back several times since and each time have been blown away by the location and level of competition. Gilles (Vanheule, director of tourism at Les 2 Alpes) and I loved what we saw and we knew partnering with Crankworx would be a great opportunity for Les 2 Alpes."

The highlight of the festival will be the slopestyle event, which will feature an invite list of 35 riders and a15,000 Euro first prize. The total purse is 42,000 Euro.

The freeride mountain bike season kicks off this weekend with the Vienna Air King competition, a dirt jump competition in the streets of Vienna, Austria.

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