Crankworx: Taking the world by storm 

Gathering steam across the globe before coming home to Whistler

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - A GROWING FESTIVAL Jesse Melamed (right) had plenty of crowd support when he won the Canadian Open Enduro on Aug. 13.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • A GROWING FESTIVAL Jesse Melamed (right) had plenty of crowd support when he won the Canadian Open Enduro on Aug. 13.

It only takes one taste of Crankworx — the laidback style, the industry clout, the economic boon, not to mention the feats on two wheels — to keep people wanting more.

Take it from Innsbruck, Austria, which held its first Crankworx festival this year, adding one more stop to the global mountain-biking competition known as the Crankworx World Tour. By all accounts, Innsbruck was a success and an exciting addition to the tour.

"We believe that it is important to keep up that momentum," said Karin Seiler Lall, CEO of Innsbruck Tourismus, in an email. "The event is continuously growing and we aim at a long-term partnership with Crankworx."

European organizers were hoping to get between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators in Innsbruck this year; they were hoping to see some positive economic impact on the region; they were hoping to put Innsbruck on the map as a "Bike City." Crankworx, in just one year, delivered all that... and more.

"...We can definitely say that the premiere of Crankworx Innsbruck at the Bikepark Innsbruck could barely have been more spectacular," said Seiler Lall. "Crankworx is the biggest and best mountain bike series on the planet. However, until a few months ago, the Crankworx World (Tour) was relatively unknown in Tyrol outside the mountain bike community. This has changed after a hugely successful first edition of Cran

kworx Innsbruck."

The numbers speak for themselves: 18,500 spectators, 7.7 million views online and on social media channels, a 10-per-cent lift in bookings for the Crankworx weekend. And that's Year 1 — and that's just Innsbruck.

It's the same story that follows Crankworx wherever it goes: Rotorua, New Zealand, Les Gets, France, and back home in Whistler, B.C.

The future is brighter and brighter for this homegrown mountain bike festival as it takes the world by storm, delivering a little piece of Whistler everywhere it goes.

Crankworx general manager Darren Kinnaird explained that as Crankworx continues to grow into a massive worldwide brand, its name synonymous with Whistler, everything points back home to where it all began 14 years ago — a chance to continually tell Whistler's story and drive business back to the mecca of mountain biking.

"The impact and the importance of Crankworx Whistler just becomes more and more every year," said Kinnaird.

According to a recent study, mountain biking supports more than $75 million in economic activity in B.C., with $58.6 million of that in Whistler. The impact of Crankworx is another $20.2 million in economic activity, with guests spending 5.3 nights on average and spending more than $500 per night in the resort.

With numbers like that, the world is taking note; more places want a piece of the action.

Les Gets

With two years under its belt, the Crankworx numbers in Les Gets, France are nothing to scoff at. According to Benjamin Mugnier, general manager of Crankworx Les Gets, bike-park numbers in Les Gets were up almost 300 per cent during the Crankworx week this year versus a regular week at the park.

There was a 150-per-cent increase in hotel bookings and more than 50,000 people attended throughout the five-day festival, held June 14 to 18.

"Les Gets is a pioneering destination for lift-accessed mountain biking, and we wanted to have an event to showcase even more (of) our bike park," said Mugnier. "The worldwide audience of the festival is key to deliver this message."

Les Gets boasts 95 kilometres of bike trails and has three dedicated lifts; one of the first regions in the world to use lifts to shuttle bikers to the top of the mountain.

"The event with its notoriety will generate long-term impact on our bike-park numbers and thus night visits on the resort overall," added Mugnier. "Our aim is to continue the Crankworx adventure for many years to come."

Rotorua

It started off as a five-day festival three years ago.

Crankworx Rotorua launched in March 2015. Competitions are based out of Skyline Rotorua, home of the Skyline Gravity Bike Park and the Whakarewarewa Forest.

After the second year of the festival, organizers had inked a 10-year contract. It's easy to see why.

The 2016 festival wbrought in 35,000 spectators and 435 pro athletes.

There were eight events.

The festival had an $8-million economic impact on the region.

This year, the festival was bigger and better, spanning nine days.

After three years, Rotorua is set up to play an important role in the grand scheme of Crankworx.

It is the first tour stop, so Rotorua sets the stage for what is to come in the Crankworx World Tour. And it brings a Kiwi flare to the event.

Innsbruck

Organizers in Innsbruck are primed for the future after the first year hosting Crankworx.

They see Crankworx as a way of turning this winter destination — Innsbruck was host to the Winter Olympics in 1976 — into a summer destination.

"Events like this one heavily contribute to strengthen Innsbruck's position as a sports mecca," said Seiler Lall. "We know that many people link Innsbruck to winter and winter sports, however, there is a huge potential for summer — to put it simply: What Air + Style means to Innsbruck in winter, Crankworx is supposed to become for summer."

Innsbruck has secured an extension to the Crankworx contract for 2018.

Bringing it back to Whistler

In a resort renowned for putting on world-class events, from the World Ski and Snowboard Festival to the Whistler Film Festival to the Whistler Village Beer Festival to hosting Ironman and Tough Mudder and Wanderlust, Crankworx now stands alone for its sheer size and impact.

It is the biggest of all of Whistler's events.

The Crankworx World Tour will ensure the event gathers steam over the course of the year with "all roads leading to Whistler," beginning in the Southern Hemisphere, building in Europe and reaching a crescendo on the West Coast of Canada in August.

Kinnaird said there were 30 million content views online before the Whistler festival. It is, he added, almost impossible to tell the Crankworx story without talking about Whistler.

"As Crankworx has grown through the World Tour, it's just meant the opportunity for us to tell better stories, have more things to talk about, make Crankworx Whistler that much more relevant," said Kinnaird.

"Never in a million years could you possibly pay for the type of coverage that Crankworx is able to generate for Whistler."

As more biking destinations look to Crankworx and its possibilities, the event is poised to take on the world.

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