The 2nd Annual Crafts and Cranks event took place at Big Bear Mountain Resort's Snow Summit Saturday with big named riders coming from all over the U.S. to earn a part of the $30,000 cash purse. The Money, put up by Snow Summit, would break out evenly among the Pro Men and Women riders in the Downhill and Enduro events. Competition was stiff with some of the bigger names in the U.S. and Canada, including Jill Kitner, Kathy Pruitt, Logan Binggeli and Bryn Atkinson, but would they have what it took to triumph over the local riders that know Snow Summit like the back of their hand. Let's look at the way the event laid out.
Jill Kitner and Kathy Pruitt hanging out in line for practice on Friday. Both ladies made a pretty substantial drive down to the loose conditions of Snow Summit. Jill Pointed out, she hadn't been at Summit for an event since the NORBA 4X races back in the day.
Kevin Aiello returned to the race scene for the first time in a while, following a gnarly accident at the Fontana Winter Series. It was great to see him during practice Friday. His teammate Logan Binggeli was also in town from Utah to work toward a victory.
We were able to do a couple of full runs of the course on Friday for "scouting" purposes and found the course had been changed a bit since last year's event. Some of the awkward uphills and loose "s turns" had been removed or rerouted making the flow of the course much more conducive to speed and true DH Racing. Additional technical sections were also added and some wood features that added to the fun of the trail kept this writer on his toes.
After a long day of practice Friday, dinner at the best Italian place in town, Maggio's was a must! We spotted several industry reps and racers, including Roger from Kenda and the guys from KMC chains there. Good food and good people are plentiful in Big Bear.
Saturday we woke up to the hustle and bustle of the vendors getting their booths in tip top shape for Crafts and Cranks.
The Vendor Village Scene from the deck. Over 30 industry companies came out to have prize giveaways and talk product with the hundreds of people in attendance.
Some of those companies included Oakley eyewear, who brought some nice glasses for attendees to demo.
Fox was another company on hand for the event. They were doing a helmet giveaway, for any helmet of your choice in their line up.
Newcomer Revolution Suspension Grips debut their product at Crafts and Cranks. They are a Made In America lock on grip with a unique cushioning design.
Crafts and Cranks, provided plenty of Crafts to drink, with over a dozen different breweries on hand to sample from.
If you're not into beer, then there's that moment when your bumble bee wings aren't enough, so you grab a Red Bull!
Speaking of Bulls, Tyler from Hermosa Beach CA loves the beer and the activities Crafts and Cranks provides. Here he gets bucked off the mechanical bull, with his friends watching in the background.
Additionally, several bands provided music throughout the day, including rock, hip hop and reggae. Needless to say the environment from a spectators perspective is pretty ideal. Beer, bull riding, vendors and live bands, all while being able to watch some of the best pro racers in the world. What more could you ask for?
We jumped in line to head up to watch Saturday Morning's practice session, where we spotted a few of the riders.
Bruce Klein (left) and Jarod Hanson (right) from the DVO Incycle Intense team pose while in line for their practice runs, Saturday. Bruce would finish in 4th place in the Pro Men category, while Hanson would finish 10th in a stacked field of 19 total.
Some of the others in the Men's pro field included Bryn Atkinson (front left) and Austin "Bubba" Warren front right. Atkinson would crash in a loose corner just a few hundred yards from the finish. Warren, finished 5th.
Kenda were the title sponsor for DH, Enduro and XC.
Logan Binggeli, pinned in the shadows during practice. Unfortunately he would have a flat in the first rock garden during his race run, taking him out of the chase for first place.
Sarah Viggers rode with a vengeance on Saturday to take the win in the Pro Women's Category. I asked Sarah prior to the race how she felt matching up against some of the biggest names in the industry. She replied "No Pressure" adding "The focus will be on them to do well not me." Viggers said after the race that idea really "put things into perspective" allowing her to have fun.
Throop Congratulates Viggers on her win. Viggers would finish nearly two seconds faster than second place, all while "having fun".
Cody Johnson, 24 from San Diego California took the win in the Pro Men DH category. Like Viggers, Cody has a list of sponsors but he's not a factory supported pro. He has raced pro since the age of 17 and has had podium finishes. Regarding his strategy he said, "I practiced in sections. You can't do too many full pulls in a course that is pedally... my first top to bottom effort was my race run". That strategy paid off, in the form of a $4,000 check. Congrats Cody!
Pro Women's DH Podium - 1st Place: Sarah Viggers 5:06.215, 2nd Place: Samantha Kingshill 5:08.454, 3rd Place: Kathy Pruitt 5:11.299, 4th Place: Amanda Batty 5:15.754, 5th Place: Rachel Throop 5:20.055
Pro Men's DH Podium - 1st Place: Cody Johnson 4:34.906, 2nd Place: Mike Day 4:34.956, 3rd Place: Tim Langdon 4:35.507, 4th Place: Bruce Klein 4:36.837, 5th Place: Austin Warren 4:39.182SUNDAY'S ENDURO
After Saturday's Main Event, it was difficult to match the intensity of the crowds, vendors and fanfare, but what was matched was the pro purses. Sunday's Pro Enduro offered up another $15k in cash purse prizes.
A few of the riders from the Chainline team at the top getting ready for the enduro with Mt. San Gorgonio in the background.
Barry Nobles, Fly Racing / Airborne rider, on the lift heading up for his stage 1 Enduro race. The views of Big Bear Lake are pretty from just about anywhere on the courses of Snow Summit.
Sunday, the Enduro racers had their work cut out for them on Stage 3, the same trail the DH race was ran on the previous day. Certainly much more challenging on a trail bike vs the full DH rigs used on Saturday.
Kathy Pruitt in the first paver berm on Miracle Mile. She was looking to better her performance in her Enduro stages vs her previous DH result the day prior.
Tim Langdon on his way to first place in the Pro Men's Enduro Category. He used a very unique set up on his Santa Cruz Hightower 29er for both the Enduro and DH events. Tim took 3rd place in the DH event aboard the same bike. His background is in Moto where he raced for the Kawasaki team before injuries pushed him out of the sport.
Men's Pro Enduro Podium - 1st Place: Tim Langdon 17:03, 2nd Place: Ryan Geiger 17:06, 3rd Place: Mike Day 17:15
Women's Pro Enduro Podium - 1st Place: Kathy Pruitt 18:19, 2nd Place: Jill Kintner 18:32, 3rd Place: Joanna Petterson 19:10
The Event was a huge success in the mind of this writer. Before we run, how about a look at Tim Langdon's custom Santa Cruz Hightower!
Langdon's Santa Cruz Hightower included a Pike 160 and a Fox Float X2 2.25.
The bike also had prototype Profile boost hubs front and rear with laced to Derby 40mm carbon hoops, which gave the 2.3 tires a great tread contact patch.
Our departing photo - This is what focus looks like. Sarah Viggers Pro Women's DH Winner!