Crankworx grows into nine-day festival 

Freeride celebration adds cross-country

The Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival is growing again this year, getting longer and more diverse.

It also promises to attract more riders, with $30,000 in prize money already secured for the main events, and events geared to the cross-country crowd.

"The (Crankworx) events seem to have enough energy behind them that we could get it to a two-weekend, one week format, and there’s enough in the way of new and interesting events to make that work as well," said Rob McSkimming, vice president of business development for Whistler- Blackcomb.

"We thought it would be cool to see if we could put something together to attract the cross-country side of things, which is why we have the Canada Cup event and the Super D to kick things off, and will build up to the gravity stuff as we get later into the week. Hopefully we’ll have something for every age and level of competitive riding."

The list of Crankworx events now includes the Nissan Biker X, the Garbanzo Downhill, the Air Downhill, the Kona Jump Jam, the Pro Invitational Slopestyle, the Canada Cup cross-country races, and the Super D, which is a combination uphill/downhill race taking place in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. There will also be demos, an industry expo, movie premiers, live music and other festival events that appeal to Whistler’s growing mountain bike fan base.

McSkimming says that Crankworx is a draw in the village. Last year the main day lots filled up for the first time in the summer, forcing people to park in the upper lots at Base II. Crankworx has also been the busiest weekend for the bike park for the past two years, and over 5,000 fans come out to watch the slopestyle event at the base of Whistler Mountain.

According to McSkimming, the goal all along has been to increase the prize money available, allowing the festival to continue to draw the biggest names in the sport. Last year the total prize purse was $20,000 over five events, and there will be a minimum of $30,000 for seven events this year.

"Partly (the extra) money reflects the fact that we’ve added some new competitions, but we haven’t totally nailed down what it’s going to be yet," he said. "We’re getting closer to what we’d like to be giving, given what these people are doing, and we’re going to be talking to sponsors over the next few months to see if we can increase our pool."

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park will be featured heavily in Crankworx, and McSkimming says there will be some new work to showcase during the festival.

"We’re going to continue with our Garbanzo expansion. More work needs to be done on Freight Train to finish that off, but there are also plans for other spurs off of Garbanzo and Fitzsimmons (chair) as well, most of which were roughed in last year," said McSkimming. "We’re also going to be looking at some lines more directly under the Garbanzo Chair. One challenge we’ll have for the next two summers is all of that Olympic construction that has to happen for the Olympic runs that we’ll have to stay away from."

Crankworx is presented by Events Whistler, which includes Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

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