Everyone knows what a crazy time Crankworx Whistler can be. The lines are long, the weather is hot, bikes get beat and the events seem to happen non stop. It gets even crazier when you add filming a full riding section with a pro World Cup team in between it all.
I had the pleasure of getting to shoot with the Commencal Riding Addiction Team. I don't often get to shoot with World Cup racers as living in BC we are surrounded by pro level free riders. I was excited to shoot with the team and the opportunity to have it play out in Whistler was the icing on the cake. The team, which consists of Myriam Nicole, Thibaut Ruffin and Gaetan Ruffin, were very accommodating with my shooting schedule despite having several events to practice for and ride in. They were always ready to ride and excited to shoot. Even though there was a bit of a language barrier it didn't slow us down much once on the mountain... I guess filming language is the same internationally; DROPPING, READY, WAIT, were the only three words we really needed to make the section happen.
I always enjoy riding and filming with pro racers because every time I do I have an ah hah moment where I say to myself "so that's how that line is supposed to be ridden". The Riding Addiction Team was no different, shredding lines that most people don't even know are there, sliding around corners, and whipping hard wherever their tires left the ground.
This was also my first opportunity to shoot with a pro level female athlete and it was excellent. Myriam, aka Pompon had no trouble keeping up to the boys and getting to actually see her in race mode during the Garbanzo DH race was amazing! The shot at 1:05 in the video was taken from her race run which will give you a good idea of her ability to charge on a race course. Keep your eye on her, as she seems to be constantly in a podium position and certainly has the potential to be a champion.
Thibaut certainly seems to be the most consistent rider on the team and also did a majority of the organization on this shoot which I greatly appreciated. He is one of the most solid riders I've seen in some time and his style is text book racer. It was nice to have a subject who was willing and able to do the exact same line, the exact same way several times over without fault. It made shooting much easier as one take was all I needed for many shots thanks to his riding ability.
Gaetan is certainly the wild child rider of the group. Like many new school racers he almost appears to enjoy being sideways in the air more than riding a course. He was my go to guy if I needed a whip thrown down or just a little extra style added to a shot to make it work. There were a few cases in which he nearly knocked the camera out of my hands getting his tire so close to the lens that I could feel the wind on my face. In fact at 1:29 in the video you can see an orange pad on one of the trees to the right. Gaetan got so sideways on this jump that he accidentally clipped that tree while fully whipped, but somehow still managed to ride it out. Unfortunately we didn't catch it on camera, but it made one of the scariest noises I have ever heard on the hill.
Together these three make up a remarkable team and were a pleasure to shoot with. They were so committed that we managed to shoot this entire section in just 2 days which never would have happened without their professionalism, dedication, and of course athletic ability.
Want to see more of the Riding Addiction Team and their bikes? Check out the Commencal website.
Big thanks to TNL Photography
for making the trip to Whistler and shooting some of their best work yet.