Crankworx Rotorua Slopesyle Course: Reshaped for more Air & Bigger Tricks!

Mar 20, 2018
by Official Crankworx  

Credit Fraser Britton Crankworx 2018
Chasing the Championship
New features await riders for this Saturday's Slopestyle, but certain elements, like McGazza's start drop, remain intact. Photo: Fraser Britton


New champions have stepped up, campaigns for the King and Queen of Crankworx crowns have kicked off and the stoke levels have begun climbing to a fever pitch. In summary: it’s on. But things are about to get next-level at Crankworx Rotorua. Four live webcast events are on the schedule. starting tomorrow, including one of the most hotly anticipated events of the season: The launch of the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship live on Red Bull TV and (Saturday March 24th @ 3:30 pm NZDT, Friday March 23rd @ 7:30 pm PDT, Saturday March 24th @ 3:30 am CET).

Leading up to the big day, the team from Elevate Trail Building, including Tom Hey, Emmerson Wilken and Scott Bedford, have been hard at work re-visioning and re-shaping the dirt that will set the stage.

Credit Fraser Britton Crankworx 2018
Credit Fraser Britton Crankworx 2018
Tom Hey and Emmerson Wilken work in tandem to put the final pieces of the Slopestyle puzzle into place. Photos: Fraser Britton

Tom Hey says it’s no easy feat given the hands of a legend helped lay the original foundation, and for the past three years, the world’s best have sung its praises while launching off it to previously unimaginable heights. He says the re-worked course pays homage to its roots, while providing some fresh challenges.

bigquotesThe start drops the’s McGazza’s so we wouldn’t want to change that. The second feature is now a dirt-to-dirt shark fin which is a little more technical to trick. It’ll be a bit better for the guys that’ve got good flow, rather than just the huckers. The third feature, everyone loves that step-up so it’s going to stay the same. After that, it used to be the boner log, but now it’s a big dirt-to-dirt hip, replacing the second jump. Hopefully that’ll make it flow through there better. We’ve put the boner back in after that, so after the dirt-to-dirt right it’s a left boner. And then the rest of the course is the same as it was.Tom Hey

Past winners of the event include Brett Rheeder (CAN) in 2015, Brandon Semenuk (CAN) in 2016 and Nicholi Rogatkin (USA), who successfully landed his signature Twister for the first time in Crankworx competition in front of the Kiwi crowd in 2017.

Action from the slopestyle event at Crankworx. Credit Fraser Britton Crankworx
Nicholi Rogatkin pays tribute to McGazza, sending it over the final jump in 2017. Photo: Fraser Britton

Hey says the changes will keep things super trickable, but will mix it up a bit, requiring more technicality than the previous iteration of the course.

Crankworx Rotorua Event Director Ariki Tibble says, it was time. “It’s not that we’re trying to improve things, it’s that we’re trying to move forward and it seemed like it was the right time. After three years...let’s turn a little bit of new dirt and start a new chapter, while keeping Kelly’s fingerprints on the overall course.”

Slope riders watching the event
Kelly McGarry
McGazzaForever - hanging on deck with the boys in 2015, and showing them how it's done on the course that's become a part of his legacy. Photos: Clint Trahan

The course will be ready to roll today, with the first practice session kicking off late this morning.

The rider roster for Saturday’s event has been locked into place. The final pair to launch from the start drop will be two riders who were engaged in some of most epic battles in Slopestyle history last season. Rogatkin, who topped both the Rotorua and Innsbruck podiums last year will drop in last, preceded by Rheeder, who missed Rotorua in 2017 due to injury but stormed the Slopestyle scene when he returned to competition in Europe, winning in Les Gets.

“The McGazza Slopestyle course in Rotorua is literally one of best courses of the year,” says Rheeder. “After seeing the changes in person I'm stoked on what the boys have done. I'm fired up to be back and see what I can do on this course.”

Brett Rheeder, sending it for the win at the inaugural event in 2015. Photo: Clint Trahan

Full rider list:
PEAT Logan (CAN)
TESTA Torquato (ITA)
GENON Thomas (BEL)

Noticeably absent from the start gate in Rotorua will be Emil Johansson, 2017’s Crankworx Slopestyle World Champion, currently sidelined with a back injury.

In addition to taking on a new course, riders are chasing a new title. Earlier this year Crankworx and the Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) joined forces to create a singular elite-level series of Slopestyle mountain biking events. The Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship (SWC) now represents the pinnacle of the discipline of Slopestyle. Riders in Rotorua will be vying for points in the battle to be named the Slopestyle World Champion.

Hopes, dreams, bikes, and the heroes behind them - they’ve all touched down in New Zealand as the best mountain bikers on the planet begin their season-long pilgrimage for glory and good times on the Crankworx World Tour. It’s all about to go down, live from Rotorua to the world.


  • + 21
 matt jones? semenuk?
  • + 33
 I don't think Matt has the points :S Damn shame because he would have slayed this course. Semenuk is probably busy filming for Revel Co, he has nothing to prove at events like this anymore.
  • + 4
 @swindelhurst: I would still like to see him fighting for the world championship title.
  • + 6
 I actually agree with swindelhurst, Semenuk has nothing to prove, and he probably enjoys spending time with friends and/or family filming and just doing w/e he wants without the pressure of big comps, long flights, airport delays, yet lags.. u name it..
Good for him, more vids for us.
  • + 1
 Semenuk has stated that the only competition he will enter from now on is Red Bull Joyride in Whistler
  • + 1
 @NBijelic: scrubbing booberms too.
  • + 10
 What ever happened to Mehdi Gani? Also Thomas Zedja?
  • + 5
 Erik Fedko ftw. Keep your eyes open world, you won't regret it Wink
  • + 4
 Nicholi landed the Twister for the first time in competition at Rotorua 2016... then again 2017.
  • + 2
 What’s up with Emil Johansson’s back?
  • + 2
 He injured it a while back and has been in and out with a bunch of different doctors. He's posted a bit about it on Instagram but details are scarce. It sounds like he's well on the way to recovery but is playing it safe, giving himself more time to heal - because he kept trying to get back on his bike and finding that it was still hurting.
  • + 1
 where is Brandon Semenuk !?
  • + 1
 Kelly is missing here...
  • - 1
 Without semenuk and reedher makes it a bit less interesting though
  • + 2
 Almost makes it more interesting for me. Everyone knows if Semenuk makes it down with no crashes he will win and generally same goes for Reehder. Without them, it makes for a more interesting event
  • + 8
 Btret reedher for slopestyle world champ
  • + 7
 @johnl2: not so sure much new talent...although - Semenuk is such a wizard I think he is waiting to unleash something new on the world. I love new talent and progression...but the old dogs (not so old) are brewin something up I think.
  • + 2
 @michellachatenoir: now it’s Rheeder vs. Rogatkin Which has turned out to be interesting at times!!!!!
  • + 1
 I think everyone's afraid of Semenuk and Rheeder just try to copie him style
  • + 1
 @YakuT: I know, right? It's kind of humorous when people even compare the two. Rheeder won Joyride once, He's never won Rampage, and think he's got like one FMB overall. Now people should look at Semenuk's track record. 5 time Joyride champ, 3 FMB overalls, 2 Rampage wins. Dude shows up to any contest and the riders know he's a serious threat to their success at wining.
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