Photo Epic: Survival Mode at the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill

Mar 25, 2018
by Cameron Mackenzie  


Race Day. D-Day. The day it all comes to a head, and the day the tides turned on the conditions for riders at the first stop of the 2018 Crankworx World Tour. High up on the hills of Mt. Ngongotaha, riders from all corners of the globe had been lapping out what many labelled 'the best DH course currently in use' for several days. When everyone arrived in Rotorua the talk of the town was how good it was going to be to have a dry Crankworx and how 'all time' the trail conditions were. Who spoke too soon?

Four laps of the track per day, three days of dry conditions, and one evening of heavy rain spelt disaster for the hopes of that ideal race. Pockets of loam and patches of hero dirt soon became healthy splatterings of peanut butter and nearly unrideable patches of black, greasy, polished dirt. After Saturday's cancellation due to the weather front that rolled in playing havoc with the slopestyle, Sunday's schedule had to be swiftly amended. Some may argue it wasn't to the benefit of the pros who had to start practice at 7:30 am in the morning, but when you've got the world tuning in, the live stream can't wait.

For some, that change caught them off guard and for others, it added to the drama of an already stressful early morning start. Jill Kintner was one of those who's morning didn't go as planned. Car trouble with her rental saw Jill and Bryn frantically trying fit her bike, without wheels, into the back of Bryn's Mom's tiny rental car. Not to worry though, they got to practice, but Jill's stress levels would have been through the roof.

With the race becoming all about survival, flat pedals were quickly fitted, the roll-offs rolled out, and a 'just send it' attitude adopted. Not the start to the season that many wanted, but the infamous track delivered exactly what was wanted; tight racing and an ideal early season showdown.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
When the start view looks like this, you know things below are about to get exciting.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Miranda Miller was rocking her newly acquired rainbow stripes on her jersey this week and went about showing people why she's the Champ.

Emilie Seigentiler sending the moss knuckles
Emilie Siegenthaler sending the large Hip Replacement stepdown.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
George Brannigan was attacking sections of the track better than most all weekend but was off the pace during finals. Perhaps a crash, or maybe still struggling to get back up to race speed?

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Vaea Verbeeck was looking pinned in practice and after her success earlier in the week would have been a sure-fire podium placer.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Blenki charging the larches during practice.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Dean Lucas made short work of the larches, no matter what the conditions. That may have been what saw him finish up so well.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Josh Oexnham's weekend was anything but smooth sailing. A snapped set of bars and several crashes later, the U19 NZ pinner put over 10 seconds into 2nd place.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Tahnee opting for the double-double through the moguls, but still managed to come out much faster than the other women.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
David McMillan destroying corners as only he does.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Sick Mik sending the moguls during the last dry practice of the weekend.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Finn Illes on his way to showing the world that he is going to be a threat this year in Elite.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Billy Meaclem made the Hip Replacement feature look small, even styling it up with a signature turn down.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Josh Oxenham sending Fat Man's Root before it became unrideable in the wet.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Casey Brown managed to juggle her hectic schedule this week and find time to line up for the downhill, however, she ended up spending the day in hospital.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Charlie Makea throwing down serious style over the 12m moose knuckle during practice, but today he could only muster up enough for 8th in the always stacked U19 field.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
If you come down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise. That's exactly what riders got. The Larches, proving to be many riders undoing.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Liam Jackson sliding his way through upper grass paddocks.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Ready to do battle.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Kieran Bennett forgot to do his morning stretches so opted for some mid-race run bike yoga.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Bas van Steenbergen lost his chain somewhere mid course but still managed to hold onto a solid run and finished up mid-pack in Elite.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Oo, you want to give me a hug?

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Tahnee came out swinging today in the slop and put over 10 seconds into Miranda Miller.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Miranda Miller with the landing gear deployed, coming in hot for 3rd.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Brook MacDonald opting for the high line in the lower offer chamber. Sadly it was not Brook's day but he still managed to find himself in 5th.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Bubba Warren styling it up for the crowd.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Dean Lucas went deep on today's run, coming across the line with a solid time. But, as the likes of Sam and Mick started to drop, so did his placing. One spot away from the champagne steps today, but expect to see great things from him this season.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Rupert Chapman threw away his run in the final 100 meters of the track today. When the conditions are that though, you cant do much else but ride the bull.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Loic Bruni got wild in the larches during his race run and lost a lot of time. 7th today will be disappointing for him given his track record here, but expect to see him come out swinging in around a months time in Croatia.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Sam Blenkinsop did what we all knew he was capable of. Finally putting together a solid run at an international event.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
The race had polar opposite conditions to what the riders had been practising in all week.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
The first of what I'm sure will be many Elite Podium Champagne showers this year for Finn.
Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Finn looks to have what is needed for this season. Lets what and see how things play out.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Expect to see many of these faces on World Cup podiums this year. Crankworx Rotorua proving to be the perfect pre-season tester once more.

Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Todays Winning Bike
Crankworx Rotorua DH 2018
Sam Blenkinsop and his victory steed.


1st - Sam Blenkinsop 3:13:10
2nd - Mick Hannah +5.14
3rd - Finn Iles +15.86

1st - Tahnée Seagrave 4:18.51
2nd - Emilie Siegenthaler +11.60
3rd - Miranda Miller +32.83


Full Results


Mentions: @cameronmackenzie @officialcrankworx




37 Comments

  • + 55
 Blenki was riding 29" wheels aaaaand running Sram components? With all that stacked against him, how on earth did he win. Probably had no fun doing it either.
  • + 4
 That's it Cam
  • + 20
 Dear Pinkbike, appreciate you pumping out this media so quickly but please give your stuff a read through. The grammar is one thing but the errors of results is annoying. Thanks!
  • - 15
flag Beez177 (Mar 25, 2018 at 8:51) (Below Threshold)
 Dude it's FREE coverage!
  • + 12
 @Beez177: Yeah, you're right there. And the photo coverage is all time these days!
  • + 3
 It came straight out of the free offer chamber!
  • + 8
 You must hate the pinkbike comment section then.
  • + 25
 Shouldn’t you have said “ I appreciate “ .........
  • + 13
 @cameronmackenzie Tahnee put 32 seconds on Miranda's time, way over than 10.
Huge gaps both in men's and women's.
  • + 4
 Exciting, yes, but definitely not "tight racing".
  • + 7
 Bit unfair to suggest Brannigan was "maybe still struggling to get back up to race speed?"

He'd clearly been down and his right sleeve was covered in dirt when he was in the hotseat!
  • + 0
 cam mackenzie doesnt have a clue thats why
  • + 7
 Wheres the womens wining bike and victory shot?
  • + 4
 I cant beleive how much slopestyle riders get paid rheeder won 20k for winning!! Dh winner gets $6300, that what you get paid for placing 3rd in the slopestyle!!
  • + 1
 Yeah the slope guys get paid more, but it's a much more elite field with higher risk. Slope is also more fun to watch, and the money in a sport comes from the spectators.
  • + 3
 2 things: greats to see the pay equality between men and woman, and Blenki finally winning (despite that bike/thing he is riding).
  • + 2
 Did you see how much more the slopestyle riders got paid!! So much more then dh wtf 1st 20k 2nd 10k 3rd 6k
  • + 0
 Saw some different looking Dirty Dan's in the pictures of Sam and Tahnee. Looked like Same had a fully cut Dan on the front even in the dry. Tahnee looked like she had a half cut Dan with only the center knobs cut on the front for her race run. #tirecutter #tiregeek
  • + 5
 Yes Tahnee!
  • + 5
 "That's it Cam"!
  • + 2
 Nice to see who can adapt to the changing course conditions. I love it when a rain storm changes a course and you have to put on the Wetscreams. Great racing once again.
  • + 2
 Sik-Mick being the oldest racer on the podium, the rest of them look like his kids.
  • - 1
 blenki is looking a bit older man, you should look back to the start of his career and youll see
  • - 1
 why the caption about blenki "finally doing what we all knew he's capable of"????? he's been putting up top results in elite for years, ive always been a fan of his no gloves and fluid pedaling in the air style! did you guys forget he's won a world cup race!?! wtf!?! mad respect to blenki, i think this could be his year in the wc and crankworx!!!
  • + 2
 Blenkinsop has a B.B. motor ......... just kidding.
  • + 2
 What happened o Casey?
  • + 10
 She decided the hospital was a drier place to be...
  • + 0
 How come Mr Kerr wasn't attending this year's Crankworx?
  • + 6
 "Thats it Cam" - He was definitely there.
  • + 6
 debt collectors all over the place
  • + 1
 he has a broken foot/ankle. not sure, just know he has a cast on his foot
  • + 1
 He's there but he's injured so he cant compete... He hosted the whip-off
  • + 5
 Still on the run
  • + 0
 and that was schladming '08 im referring to... do your research!
  • + 1
 Welcome to PRO-GNAR!
  • - 1
 Yes Tahnee UK domination !

Also Öhlins DH fork ????
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