5 Things We Learned at Crankworx Rotorua 2019

Mar 25, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Ryan Howard towing in Mitch Ropelato on a cruiser.

The first big event of the season has been and gone. Crankworx Rotorua hosted exciting and close competition across all events throughout the week with plenty of surprising and interesting results. Rotorua proved again that it can hold a great event with perfect dusty trails and a great atmosphere. Check out five things we noticed from the sidelines.

1. Mixed wheel size downhill bikes are finally being raced

It seems like we have been hearing about mixed wheel sizes coming to downhill ever since the UCI relaxed its rules and Rotorua would be the first time we would see them used in a race. Specialized brought along two prototype bikes for Loic Bruni and Finn Iles and they looked like they were hauling. Finn Iles came within 0.1 of the win and Loic was putting in some fast splits until a front puncture ended his race.

2. 2019 brings a competitive women's field

Despite three-time Queen of Crankworx winner Jill Kintner not in attendance the Elite women still proved that they can be just as if not more exciting to watch than the men. The highlight of the week has to be the Pumptrack where close racing and a stacked field of some of the best female riders in the world battled it out for the top spot. The rest of the week saw more intense racing across Air DH, Downhill, Dual Slalom and Whip Off. Vaea Verbeeck ended the week as clear leader in the Queen of Crankworx competition, she takes a lead of nearly 80 points into Innsbruck.

Few more pumps to go. Kialani took the advantage later in the lap for a strong win.

3. Billy Meaclem can beat the world's best

Coming into Rotorua as an almost unknown rider, Billy took the competition by surprise when he managed to beat the best in the Dual Speed and Style and take the gold medal. But this was not all, he turned up to the Pumptrack later in the week as the crowd's favourite and and walked away with an impressive bronze medal. Billy spent ten years as a rider on the New Zealand national BMX team and those skills are serving him well as he transfers over into mountain biking. We hope to see this trail builder from Christchurch at both Innsbruck and Whistler to see if he can continue to upset the top men.

What a day of competition it s been for Billy Meaclem out of New Zealand doing it for the home crowd.

4. The new King and Queen scoring system has put slopestyle riders back in contention

Points for the King and Queen of Crankworx crown are no longer awarded for Whip Offs or Enduros, bringing focus more on core Crankworx disciplines. Under the old system, Keegan Wright would be streaks ahead but as it stands Thomas Lemoine will take a slender 6 point lead to Innsbruck having medalled in the slopestyle, won the pumptrack and come fourth in the speed and style. A slopestyle rider has never been crowned as King of Crankworx, could that all change in 2019?

Tomas Lemoine put down a tough to beat first run that had him sitting in second and staying there.

5. The Slopestyle was brutal

As usual, Slopestyle provided a dramatic conclusion to the week's festivities. With plenty of big features, the Rotorua course provided a real challenge for the riders with some of the top guys taking themselves out and not even making it to the final. Matt Jones suffered a horrific crash which saw him sit out the final after casing the flat drop and landing on his head. Diego Caverzasi would also sit the final out after crashing in practice. Tomas Genon took a big spill in the finals stopping him from reaching the top of the leaderboard. The battle for the infamous Triple Crown pushes the riders to their limits and Brett Rheeder would lay down an impressive run that would see him repeat his win from last year.

Frustrations with incomplete runs. That s just the way she goes.

Replay: Dual Slalom - Crankworx Rotorua 2019
Replay: Speed & Style - Crankworx Rotorua 2019
Replay: Downhill - Crankworx Rotorua 2019
Replay: Pump Track - Crankworx Rotorua 2019
Replay: Slopestyle - Crankworx Rotorua 2019

MENTIONS: @officialcrankworx


  • + 66
 The World Cup DH season really should start here followed by an Aussie round a la EWS
  • + 4
 So true
  • + 5
 I agree, just please no more cairns
  • + 1
 Also SHOULD be like Supercross and have 18 rounds one every weekend for 18 weeks?
  • + 2
 @aljoburr: I’m not sure that’s realistic, especially seeing as the UCI and various others say that one of the reasons why there’s not more rounds is because there’s very few people/organisations who actually want/are capable of hosting them. But surely it’s virtually already made for them in NZ during Crankworx and in Australia we already know there’s the appetite and organisations capable of hosting them because of previous rounds there. You’ve also got to consider smaller teams that might not have the budget to attend more rounds.
  • + 5
 @grundletroll: get stuffed Cairns is awesome.
  • + 2
 I would be all over that!!
  • + 1
 @UKiwiRider: Just have too get all world cup riders on board & it could easily happen!
Anyone want to start a petition?
  • + 1
 @oatkinso: Get world cup riders on board, If anyones in touch with world cup rider ask them what they want, I will when I get that chance at Fort William!
  • + 3
 In NZ they can have Crankworx in Rotorua one week and 2 weeks later a UCI round in Queenstown if they really wanted to. I mean it seems a good portion of the northern hemisphere riders are in Qtown it seems at that time of year.
  • + 30
 "2019 brings a competitive women's field " - is that sarcasm?

We need a transgender category! Stop robbing biological girls of their livelyhood by taking away podiums from them.

I love the idea of transgender people being able to compete - but I also love the idea that women are entitled to a fair and balanced competition.
  • - 17
flag TannerValhouli (Mar 25, 2019 at 6:24) (Below Threshold)
 Dude theres one transgender chick racing against them and getting decent results, I don't think it's a problem until the girls she's racing against are clearly upset. And honestly I don't think it's bad to have someone pushing the level of riding on the female side. And the top girls like tahnee and rachel are still miles ahead of her in speed and skill, so having her to push them harder is going to breed more tahnee and rachel level riders. Just trying to take the positives away from it without hurting anyones feelings.
  • + 38
 @TrannerValhouli: What does anything you wrote, have to do with this discussion?
We have always separated men and women in sports for good reasons.
Those reasons haven't disappeared, just because of what is considered politically correct lately.
  • + 13
 Fair point @TannerValhouli. While I think there is a valid discussion to be had here it's hardly a crisis crippling the women's competition. I'd be interested to hear a womens perspective on this, so far it just seems like the entire conversation has been a bunch of blokes giving their opinion on what best for the girls.
  • + 1
 @tgiblin50: --this guys got a brain in his head. take a bow, dude. not many people can take their ego out of their internet comments and recognize exactly what you just said.
  • + 3
 What are you guys talking about? Looks like I missed something along the way?
  • + 4
 same, who’s transgender?!?
  • + 4
 @theronsta: I don't know.
I went straight to the comments.
  • + 11
 Call me old fashion, but where I’m from, women don’t have penises.
  • + 5
 I'm not sure this is the right platform for this discussion but I do think it is a good one- for those curious: www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12002309 (took 2nd in Women's DH). It is such a difficult issue as I fully support people having the opportunity to live in a way that works for them and promotes the persuit of happiness and alleviation of pain. No one will ever see the world through their eyes or process it with their brains and if it doesn't hurt you (legitimately hurt you and not bruise your delicate hegemonic morals) than why care?- however when it relates to competitive categories in sport it is a tough one because it may hurt others careers and sense of competitiveness. We know that testosterone and other male hormones do lead to enhanced muscle development and other physical advantages- hence why genders tend to be separated at sport and a contributing factor to performance differences. The sad thing is there is no safe option for trans athletes at the moment and even if a trans category was created the low numbers would make it difficult to draw athletes into it or recognize their achievements fairly. It's a complex issue in sport and worth talking about IMO. My hope would be the focus would be on promoting as much overlapping opportunity for competition, respect and reward as possible while being real about the issues. I also would like to hear from the women in that category rather than tell them how to feel (as was stated by @tgiblin50).
  • - 1
 @snl1200: well said. A lot of judgement and very little compassion shown here.
  • - 1
 @snl1200: "why care?" ...I haven't seen it said anywhere yet but I'll say why I argue against it....and it isn't really for the women...I object for a selfish reason. Me, Myself and I do not want to watch Trans compete against females.

"low numbers would make it difficult to draw athletes into it or recognize their achievements fairly" ...how is this ANYONE else's responsibility? If they don't have the numbers to fill a category, they don't have the numbers. Boo freakin hoo. I'm sure they'd get there one day. Look how long it took to get any significant female #'s in sports. Gonna take time...but it isn't an excuse to just add them in against females.

"would like to hear from the women in that category " ....everyone would...but anyone should realize that it'd be career/political suicide to do so.
For the record...I am opposed no matter what the women say. I am not interested in Trans VS Women competition. Maybe I'd also watch a Trans category some day...who knows.
  • + 2
 What about a genetically modified category, where do we draw the line hear?
  • + 2
 @aljoburr: That day will certainly come....cuz ya know, the whole Designer Baby and all. They won't be able to keep that in check forever.
  • + 1
 @loopie: Think of all the training & additives athletes are doing now where do you draw the line
What may not be illegal for competition, but it still has affect other wise they would not take them?
  • + 21
 6. No matter how high my hopes, I do have to change my fantasy team between different events to do well in the contest.
  • + 8
 Yeah. I didn't get that either. I thought it was more like Fantasy King/Queen of Crankwork. Whoops.
  • + 12
 That Rheeder has been training like a mad man to win that triple crown now that Rogatkin has done it.
  • + 8
 I Kate wait for the comments about #2
  • + 1
  • + 1
 The slopestyle link is broke af.
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