If back-to-back World Cup Downhill racing wasn’t enough for you, then you’re in luck. This weekend sees the majority of the World Cup teams guzzle up some travel miles as they head to Innsbruck in Austria to join their fellow MTB tribesmen for the second installment of the 2018 Crankworx World Series.
Innsbruck is the newest of the Crankworx stops, with the city itself trying to diversify its outdoor activities from being just a purely snow-sports location. The trail network is still developing but with the world’s best mountain bike riders heading into town there’s a bit of pressure on to learn from the first year and make it even better for the second.
From Wednesday, there’s a packed agenda for those vying for good results (and associated prize money - for which in Crankworx, there’s a lot), and there’s plenty to do if you’re not competing too. There’s lots of activities on offer around the five-day event, including Kidsworx races, women’s-only rides, bunny-hop and manual competitions, and lots of post-event concerts and afterparties.
So sit back (with a cold glass of Austrian beer optional - my personal favourite is Stiegl Grapefruit Radler) and get up to speed on all you need to know about Crankworx Innsbruck.
The LocationInnsbruck mountain biking trails
Bikepark Innsbruck plays host to Crankworx Innsbruck, with the events being spread across two sites; the village of Mutters and the village of Götzens, around 8km west of the city of Innsbruck itself. Mutters is the main site which hosts every racing event, including the expo area, bar the Downhill which is hosted in Götzens. As well as public transport being available, free Crankworx shuttle buses are available to and from the sites. Alternatively you can ride to the venues.
There are five key events being held over the five event days for Crankworx Innsbruck. As per last year, a lake above city will host the inaugural event; the Whip-Off Championships. There are a few wildcard entries available on the day, so check with organisers if you want to put your hat in the ring, otherwise unless you’ve been invited, you’d have had to have qualified through either the Dirt Masters’ Warsteiner Whip Offs, the Austrian Whip Offs, or via the Crankworx Wildcard video contest to take part. Points are based on judges’ opinion of riders’ style, degree of whip, amplitude, and how the bike is landed.
While the sun sets on the second day, we’ll see riders compete in the Pump Track Challenge. The event is by invite only. Chains and anything but a 26”er are not allowed. There are a few local wildcard entries based on the results of the Pump the Town Innsbruck qualifier event held last month.
Friday will see the Dual Speed & Style finals get underway, giving us a taste of the mid-air ballet capabilities of some of the Slopestyle riders that we’ll see on Saturday in the Slopestyle finals. Those invited are a combination of those who wish to attend out of the top six riders from last year’s FMB Diamond Series standings, the next top six riders in the current FMB World Tour rankings, plus two wildcard spots for the top finishers at April’s Swatch Rocket Air event. Those slated to compete in the finals for Slopestyle are:
• Alex ALANKO // SWE // Wildcard
• Anthony MESSERE // CAN
• Brett RHEEDER // CAN
• Diego CAVERZASI // ITA
• Erik FEDKO // GER
• Jakub VENCI // CZE
• Lukas KNOPF // GER
• Matt JONES // GBR // Wildcard
• Nicholi ROGATKIN // USA
• Ryan NYQUIST // USA
• Simon PAGES // FRA
• Szymon GODZIEK // POL
• Thomas GENON // BEL
• Tomas LEMOINE // FRA
• Torquato TESTA // ITA // Alt 1
• Reed BOGGS // USA // Alt 2
Sunday is Downhill Day, where riders will be racing the ‘Rough One’ track in Götzens, and looking at the forecast the downhillers and their lucky spectators are going to be blessed with the best weather for the event.
The Downhill Track
The track is aptly named ‘The Rough One’ and although marked as a blue on Trailfork, new additions just for this weekend will no doubt add a little extra spice. The track is full of root-infested switchbacks which keep things nice and technical, plus there are a few rock and man-made features to give riders some airtime, whether they want it or not.
What Happened At The Last Round
The season kicked off in Rotorua, New Zealand and the local and Australian contingent of riders shone right through. Check out the below for a blow-by-blow account of how all the events unfurled.
Giant Toa Enduro presented by CamelBak - At the first event of the Rotorua stop we saw a dominant performance by Casey Brown in the Women’s category, taking all six stage wins (including a crash with Vaea Verbeeck on Stage 6) and securing the overall by two minutes. In the Men’s the Kiwi contingent kept things spicey, with Keegan Wright and Sam Blenkinsop trading stage wins throughout the day. Wright eventually emerged victorious in the overall, with Blenki in second and Matt Walker in third.
Rotorua Downhill - After 24 hours of constant rain, the riders were in for a race on what must have seemed like peanut butter. In the Women’s race, Tahnée Seagrave took her first Crankworx podium despite taking completely different lines on race day thanks to the adverse track conditions. Seagrave was followed by Emilie Siegenthaler in second, and Miranda Miller in third. In the Men’s race, it was the gloveless New Zealander Sam Blenkinsop who took the win after what he claimed was one of his cleanest runs. Joining him on the podium was Mick Hannah in second and in his first international Elite-level race, Finn Iles.
100% Dual Slalom - A crowd of over 1,500 came to watch the rivalry unfold on a new event for Rotorua. In the Women’s race, Jill Kintner took her sixth consecutive win in the discipline at Crankworx despite the fierce competition from Kialani Hines and Tahnée Seagrave. In the Men’s race, Tomas Slavik made it his third win in Crankworx Dual Slalom, beating Kyle Strait in the Big Finals, with Matt Walker and Luca Cometti fighting it out for third and fourth spot.
Redwoods Downhill - Another race and another top performance by Sam Blenkinsop on home turf; the Taniwha Trail in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Finishing up the Men’s race was fellow New Zealander Brook MacDonald, followed by Mick Hannah in third (although you’d think he’d get some extra points for his signature suicide-no-hander just before the finish line. In the women’s race, Vaea Verbeeck put to bed her two crashes in practice, taking the win away from Casey Brown and Jill Kintner in second and third respectively.
Air Downhill - Skyline Rotorua’s Mr. Black track hosted the fast and flowing Air Downhill race, with Jill Kintner securing the top step, denying last year’s winner Vaea Verbeeck a back-to-back victory. Verbeech had to settle for second, with Emilie Siegenthaler taking third. In the Men’s race it was Mick Hannah who took the win, 0.72 seconds ahead of Matt Walker, followed by Tomas Slavik.
Official Oceania Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank - Under a starry sky the big jumps in the bike park played host to an exceptional evening of going sideways. The final honours would go to Ryan Howard and Casey Brown, but many would argue that newcomer Kaos Seagrave (yes, the brother of one of the fastest women in downhill) should have been awarded the top step. Nevertheless, Seagrave beat Tyler McCaul, and in the Women’s final, Brown fended off a growing cohort of stylish women, with Vinny Armstrong taking second and Alexandra Wohlgensinger taking third.
Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - After a three year long drought, Martin Söderström secured the win against Kiwi and not surprisingly the crowd favourite, Joe Simpson. Having made his way through the qualifying stages, Simpson even surprised himself that he got as far as he did, having only just jumped on his bike a week ago and entered. But the fairytale dream wasn’t to be for the New Zealander and he crashed into Söderström mid-air, leaving a gap too great to pull back in the second heat.
RockShox Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by Torpedo7 - Perennial Pump Track champion Jill Kintner once again reigned supreme, fending off challenges from the likes of Caroline Buchanan and Kialani Hines. In the Men’s race, it was Tomas Lemoine who took the top step on what everyone thought was one of the most challenging tracks to date. Lemoine beat Chaney Guennet in a clean sweep of the Big Final.
Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza - With Brandon Semenuk not competing, attention was drawn to the battle between Brett Rheeder and Nicholi Rogatkin. With Rheeder scoring an incredible first run of 94.25, it was Diego Caverzasi who snuck into second place with a 90.5. New versus old school theme saw Thomas Genon turning up the heat, pushing Caverzasi into third place. All eyes were then on Rogatkin who charged through his usual trick-heavy run. It wasn’t to be for Rogatkin however; he crashed on the final jump, gifting the win to Rheeder.
King and Queen of Crankworx Standings
KING OF CRANKWORX
1st // Sam BLENKINSOP // NZL // 500
2nd // Mick HANNAH // AUS // 325 // -175
3rd // Matt WALKER // NZL // 305 // -195
4th // Tomas SLAVIK // CZE // 280 // -220
5th // Keegan WRIGHT // NZL // 275 // -225
QUEEN OF CRANKWORX
1st // Jill KINTNER // USA // 565
2nd // Casey BROWN // CAN // 425 // -140
3rd // Vaea VERBEECK // CAN // 365 // -200
4th // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR // 225 // -340
5th // Kialani HINES // USA // 200 // -365
Note: Points mean prizes… and a lot of cash. Crankworx Innsbruck is the second stop in the Crankworx World Series, with the final stop being in Whistler, Canada. At the end of the 2018 series, those who’ve accumulated the most points and are crowned 2018 King and Queen will each receive $20,000 (CAD). The second place overall male/female rider will each receive $10,000 (CAD), with the third placed riders receiving $5,000 (CAD) each.
Crankworx Slopestyle Championships Standings
1st // Brett RHEEDER // CAN // 1000
2nd // Thomas GENON // BEL // 900 // -100
3rd // Diego CAVERZASI // ITA // 800 // -200
4th // Tomas LEMOINE // FRA // 720 // -280
5th // Nicholi ROGATKIN // USA // 656 // -344
6th // Simon PAGÈS // FRA // 600 // -400
7th // Anthony MESSERE // CAN // 552 // -448
8th // Ryan NYQUIST // USA // 512 // -488
9th // Torquato TESTA // ITA // 476 // -524
10th // Logan PEAT // CAN // 442 // -558
Riders must win all three of the four Crankworx slopestyle events to be able to be win the one of the ultimate freeride honours; the Crankworx Slopestyle ‘Triple Crown’. No one has managed it since its inception in 2015, which means no one has managed to claim the $25,000 (CAD) in prize money. Will 2018 be the year?
What Happened Here Last Year
Tiroler Tageszeitung Official Alpine Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK - Eight women and a multitude of men took their turns beside the lake overlooking the Innsbruck skyline. Casey Brown entered the comp undefeated, and it stayed that way when she left it. Meanwhile Frenchman Louis Reboul took the win in the Men’s category.
Raiffeisen Club Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox - Red skies played host to one of the closest-fought pump track battles in recent memory. Kintner and Buchanan clashed in the finals for the women, with a perfect tie in the first of the finals, Buchanan edged out to take the win from the American. In the Men’s finals it was Les Gets runner-up Chaney Guennet who finally managed to get his redemption over a lederhosen-clad Mitch Ropelato.
Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - With Jakub Vencl on a flyer with having won two of the Speed & Style comps before coming to Innsbruck, everyone was wondering whether he’d be able to secure a hat trick win. Sadly it wasn’t to be and as the event progressed he got pushed out by the second round. With other surprises popping up, such as Tomas Slavik - who usually fares pretty well in this comp - getting beaten by Austin Warren in the first round, it was down to Tomas Lemoine combining blistering speed with a host of tricks to put down an amazing performance, beating Martin Söderström to take the win.
Slopestyle presented by Kenda - A new location was good enough to jazz things up in the finals where we saw a great battle between Nicholi Rogatkin and Brett Rheeder. Rheeder put down run that gave him a score of 94.33; everyone thought he had secured a route in to the Slopestyle Triple Crown. Rogatkin wanted it more though, and with an aggressive looking, technical run - topped off with a cashroll tail-whip - he secured the win.
Downhill presented by iXS - Off on the other side of the mountain from the Slopestyle course, a fresh track had been cut out for the riders especially for the event. In the women’s field Kintner and Siegenthaler were close but not close enough to Tracey Hannah’s time, leaving the Australian to take the inaugural win. Meanwhile, her brother was doing pretty well in the Men’s race, having been sitting pretty in the hot seat for a good while. With only a few riders to go, an on-form Danny Hart shaved off 0.25 seconds on track, snatching the win and denying the Hannah’s a family podium.
Previous Winners at Innsbruck
2017 // Louis REBOUL // FRA
2017 // Casey BROWN // CAN
Dual Speed and Style
2017 // Tomas LEMOINE // FRA
2017 // No women’s event
Pump Track Challenge
2017 // Chaney GUINNET // FRA
2017 // Caroline BUCHANAN // AUS
2017 // Nicholi ROGATKIN // USA
2017 // No women’s event
2017 // Danny HART // GBR
2017 // Tracey HANNAH // AUS
The Weather Forecast
Watching It In Person
Crankworx offers a single ticket that gives you access to all five event days, as well as a cable car access to the Whip-Off Championships location by the lake on the day of the event for those who don’t wish to walk up. Tickets cost €20 (adult), €15 (12-17 years), and free for the under 12s. You can buy your tickets in advance here
, or at the venue.
If you just fancy watching the Downhill on Sunday then there’s a specific one-day ticket you can buy for a flat fee of €5. You can pick up this ticket at the venue (it’s not available to buy online). This ticket will also get you access to the various side events (e.g. women’s-specific and Kidworx events).
There are separate tickets for the aftershow parties, but details about those are still to be released, so check with a Crankworx volunteer or at the ticketing office when you’re there.
Must Know, Must See, Must Do
Innsbruck has been inhabited by us humans since the early Stone Age, and ever since then it’s been an important route for trade and armies wanting to travel north and south of the Alps. The Romans established a fort to protect the crossing point over the Inn river. The city’s coat-of-arms bears the bridge, emphasising the importance of the structure that would lead to a great amount of wealth generated in fees for passing over the structure.
Innsbruck became so important and so big, it became the capital of the Tyrol region in the 15th century, and in doing so it became one of the hubs of European politics and culture thanks to Emperor Maximilian I who decided to have a residence here in the latter half of the century. Maximillian’s legacy lives on thanks to the various monuments and bronze statues dedicated to him and the mighty Habsburg empire.
The city nurtured its cultural heritage in the following centuries, including the location of the first ever opera house north of the Alps (built in the 1620s), followed by the establishment of the city’s first university in 1669. Innsbruck largely kept itself to itself up until the 19th century when during the Napoleonic Wars, the Tyrol region was ceded to Bavaria, an ally of France, and despite a locals’ successful revolt, control eventually was returned to Bavaria. In an effort to settle the fractious European landscape post the second and final defeat of Napoleon, the Tyrol was returned to the Austrians in what was known as the Congress of Vienna. Almost a hundred years past in relative peacefulness and autonomy, until in 1938 it fell under Nazi Germany rule in the annexation of Austria known as the ‘Anschluss’. The city experienced heavy bombing in the Second World War, with the bombs from the air finally falling quiet in 1945.
Nowadays the city is bustling with over 120,000 residents, with its population increasing every now and then thanks to the city being host to major sporting events like the Winter Olympics, the European Football Championships, and of course Crankworx. Thanks to its easy-to-access mountains which surrounds the city, the area is filled with a rich history of snowsports which transcends to the summer, making the city notably ‘young’ in its outlook as well as population.
If you have time when you’re out at Crankworx, there’s a lot the city and the surrounding area has to offer. Packed full of historical monuments and buildings you have a good choice, including those incredible bronze statues in the Hofkirche dedicated to Emperor Maximilian I and his Habsburg family, and the Cathedral at Saint Jacob - a Baroque-styled architectural marvel. If one Baroque-styled building wasn’t enough then there’s the Wiltener Basilika and the Stift Wilten to see. Most of these are free to enter. On to more modern things, a visit to the ski jump designed by the late, great Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid is a must. The ‘Bergiselschanze’ is now a landmark for the city, and you can sit and enjoy the view at the cafe at the top of the building.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained if you take a stroll around the city, with lots of buildings and parts of buildings forming historical landmarks, often with a rich story to tell (usually related to the ruling families of Tyrol through the ages. There’s plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from too, and with the city being quite a hub for international visitors you can not just enjoy the local cuisine but also have some more familiar meals to remind you of home.
Further afield, for an incredibly small fee (€2 per adult), you can visit the Alpengarten, or ‘Alpine Garden’, which is features all in one handy place the majority of the diverse plant-life you’ll see out on the mountains. On a theme, you can also visit the Alpenzoo, or (you’ve guessed it) ‘Alpine Zoo’. Free entry with an Innsbruck Card, you can enjoy Europe’s highest located zoo which specialises in alpine animals, including the world’s biggest collection of alpine fish.
The ScheduleWednesday 13 June
• 17:30-19:00 // Oakley Official Alpine Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank - Event has moved to Friday at 14:00 because of bad weatherThursday 14 June
• 10:30-11:30 // RockShox Pump Track Challenge - Qualification
• 12:00-13:00 // RockShox Pump Track Challenge - Finals Round of 32
• 13:00-17:00 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Course Inspection
• 14:00-14:30 // Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - Timed Runs
• 14:30-15:30 // Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - Qualification
• 16:00-18:00 // Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - Finals Round of 32
• 18:00-19:00 // BunnyHop Contest powered by MTBInnsbruck
• 20:00-22:00 // RockShox Pump Track Challenge - Finals *Friday 15 June
• 10:00-13:30 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group A
• 14:00-17:30 // Oakley Official Alpine Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank
• 14:00-15:00 // ManualChallenge powered by MTBInnsbruck
• 14:00-17:00 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group B
• 17:30-19:30 // Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style - Finals *Saturday 16 June
• 08:00-11:00 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group A
• 11:15-14:30 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group B
• 15:30-18:00 // Crankworx Slopestyle presented by Kenda - Finals *Sunday 17 June
• 08:00-09:30 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group B
• 09:30-11:00 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Training Group A
• 11:00-12:00 // Goergl Intense Extended eBike Challenge
• 11:30-15:30 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Finals
• 15:30-17:30 // iXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club - Broadcast Finals *Note: All times are local (CEST) and subject to change by Crankworx. Not all events are listed, e.g. Kidsworx, Slopestyle training (they’re training pretty much all the time throughout the event - because Slopestyle), after parties and concerts, autograph signings, women’s specific events, or other side events. For a full rundown of the schedule, check here [https://www.crankworx.com/innsbruck/schedule/#complete-schedule]. * denotes events that will be broadcast live.
Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics and results from all the main events, including highlight videos brought to you by Brett Tippie and his crew. There’s also going to be your usual dose of live broadcasts from Innsbruck which will be available via Pinkbike, at the following times in these locations-RockShox Pump Track Challenge
• Thursday 14 June // 20:00 // CEST
• Thursday 14 June // 19:00 // BST
• Thursday 14 June // 11:00 // PDT
• Friday 15 June // 04:00 // AEST
• Friday 15 June // 06:00 // NZSTMons Royale Dual Speed & Style
• Friday 15 June // 17:30 // CEST
• Friday 15 June // 16:30 // BST
• Friday 15 June // 08:30 // PDT
• Saturday 16 June // 01:30 // AEST
• Saturday 16 June // 03:30 // NZSTSlopestyle Presented by Kenda
• Saturday 16 June // 15:30 // CEST
• Saturday 16 June // 14:30 // BST
• Saturday 16 June // 06:30 // PDT
• Saturday 16 June // 23:30 // AEST
• Sunday 17 June // 01:30 // NZSTiXS Downhill presented by Raiffeisen Club
• Sunday 17 June // 15:30 // CEST
• Sunday 17 June // 14:30 // BST
• Sunday 17 June // 06:30 // PDT
• Sunday 17 June // 23:30 // AEST
• Monday 18 June // 01:30 // NZSTNote: These times are subject to change. Pinkbike and Crankworx will provide updates to the coverage if they change - remember to keep checking Pinkbike’s homepage to avoid disappointment! You can also check out Crankworx's official press release here for additional information.