The world's best freeride mountain bikers make their annual pilgrimage this week to Vancouver Island's Mount Washington Alpine Resort, home of the Bearclaw Invitational Slopestyle. This is the third edition of the Bearclaw event and Darren Berrecloth has cooked up some special treats in year three.What kind of treats does Bearclaw have in store? Not including the salmon feast he cooks for riders on Saturday night, Berrecloth introduces a new Free Slalom event that kicks off the two-days of competitions on Friday night. The design of the Free Slalom is simple; it’s a slalom course with three dirt jumps. Racers are not only timed, but they're also being judged on their airs -in a similar format to mogul skiing. This is the first competition of its type in mountain biking so be sure to check it out.
With an $18,000 prize purse, the Bearclaw Invitational Slopestyle is the main event of the weekend. Cam McCaul owns this event. The American freeride superstar is a crowd favorite and he's taken home the winner's cheque two years in a row. Will Cam make it a three-peat? Place your bets now. The action starts at noon on Saturday.
Berrecloth has given his slopestyle course a complete makeover and we're pretty sure it wasn't all done to throw McCaul off his game. “I changed the whole design from the year before, trying to incorporate all the key elements in which a slopestyle course should have and incorporating some of my own ideas as well,” Berrecloth explains. “I made the course small, tight, and technical at the top, and progressively stepped up the gnar factor as the course winds down the slope.”
The new course features berms, a wall ride to sub-rail, and a 15 foot bonar log through the first 75 meters. This is followed immediately by a quarter hip to dirt hip, then a 40 foot bonar log with a crazy 30 foot gap. The end of the course features a classic super-sized dirt jump accompanied with a gigantic step-up and showcase final drop right in front of the beer garden. The action should be mind-blowing to say the least.
Shortly after the Slopestyle, Berrecloth will try to repeat as High Air champion. Last year, he topped the bar at over 16 feet and the crowd went nuts. Will Berrecloth hold on to the title or will he be dethroned in 2008? There's good incentive to air the highest, the winner takes home a sick Oakley Crankcase for their efforts.
With all the action going on, what's the best part about the Bearclaw Invitational? One word, free! That's right, it's free for all spectators. Not only do you get to check out the best riders from all over the world, but Berrecloth will be busy tossing his sponsor's shwag out to the crowd in-between sessions on course.
To top off the high-energy atmosphere, Red Bull is bringing some DJ's to keep the crowds moving all day Saturday. Kokanee will also lend a hand, along with the Glacier Girls at the Kokanee Bar and Grill, for some beer garden motivational speaking and crowd appreciation.
To see the complete rider list and schedule for the Bearclaw Invitational, check out bearclawinvitational.com
The Bearclaw Invitational Slopestyle is sponsored by: Adidas Eyewear, Red Bull, Specialized Bikes, Fox Racing Shox, Dakine, Race Face, Hayes Disc Brakes, Mavic, Kokanee, the Head First Army, Toyota, and Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is host site for the Bearclaw Invitational. The bike park is open daily until September 21, 2008. For accommodation and package information, call Mount Washington Alpine Resort at 1-888-231-1499 toll free or locally at 250-338-1386. Surf to mountwashington.ca
for additional information including the live mountain cam.