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.
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.
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.
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?
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.