Pinkbike Award Winner: Game-Changer of the Year

Jan 7, 2015 at 2:01
by Pinkbike Staff  

Sorting out the winning game-changer came down to determining the defining moment when an event, a decision, or an action took place that turned a page and launched us into a new chapter, yet to be played out in the history of mountain biking. The sport of enduro came into sharp focus after the Enduro World Series' second successful season captured the imaginations of both rank-and-file riders and the media. Enduro was no longer an enigmatic concept being carelessly lobbed about by marketing departments and media hacks. The EWS gave the sport of enduro shape and substance and put it in front of a truly global audience. The EWS had all of the basic ingredients in place: a groundswell of popularity, pro teams in attendance, key media coverage, and venues on three continents. Mid-way through the 2014 EWS season, almost everyone could tell you that that enduro was here to stay, but nobody, even the EWS, knew for certain what the series was going to evolve into in the foreseeable future. That defining moment was provided by the people who put together the EWS stop at Whistler's Crankworx festival.

Pinkbike MTB Awards

Game-Changer of the Year

Enduro World Series at Whistler, BC

The Enduro World Series at Whistler, BC, handily won our Game-Changer of the Year award for setting a high bar for future enduro venues - for its diversity of terrain and trails, for the intensity of its sometimes monstrously technical descents, and for pushing the top EWS athletes up to and sometimes beyond their athletic and bike-handling skillsets. Red Bull Specialized racer Curtis Keene remarked at the finish of the five-stage, single-day event, that it was the hardest enduro he had experienced, and then tipped his hat to the working-class competitors who managed to finish a race that put the hurt to the pros.

Nico Lau is visibly excited by this race he loves the technical stages and long days on the bike. These are arguably the most technical stages of the season and we reckon he s going to be in his element this weekend.
  Nico Lau

For Whistler, the 2014 EWS brought recognition to the ski-mountain and its nearby slopes for its stellar singletrack network rather than revisit its now-stereotypical flow and DH trails. For the EWS, Whistler demonstrated to the series organizers as well as to competitors, that professional enduro racers can handle a lot more fire than any of us believed they could. Admittedly, the small group of men who laid out the course and who put in massive amounts of shovel time to prepare it for competition did so because they wanted to showcase Whistler's lesser known gems. But, the outcome of their efforts exceeded all ambitions. Before the last competitor crossed the line - almost nine hours after the early morning start - the writing was on the wall for the EWS.

One to watch this weekend is local rider Jesse Melamed. While he admits that he doesn t know many of the trails they are using for this race he knows the terrain here better than almost anyone so expect him to be flying tomorrow.
  Jesse Melamed

If the Enduro World Series wants to maintain its leadership position as the international series for enduro competition, then its venues must be upgraded to challenge the pros and to progress their skills. To make that happen, however, promoters must be willing to accept that many amateur racers will not be able to make the transfers - or in some cases, even ride down the courses. Enduro will always have venues for rank-and-file racers, but not the EWS. All signs point to a day when we will realize that the 2014 EWS at Whistler marked the decision point where the EWS was set on course to become a professional-only competition venue and eventually achieve status similar to that of the World Cups.

Jared needed a moment or two to compose himself before he could talk about the day s exexrtions.
  Jared Graves

See the complete 2014 EWS


  • 209 12
 Dear Pinkbike:

Definition of GAME CHANGER

: a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.

You have used "game changer" incorrectly. please replace with:


Full Definition of ADVERTISING

: the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements
: advertisements the magazine contains much advertising>
: the business of preparing advertisements for publication or broadcast

Thank you,


Pinkbike Users
  • 15 2

1. To share an opinion or feeling; be in accord: " I agree with you on that."
  • 15 30
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 7, 2015 at 7:04) (Below Threshold)
 Not sure what you mean - that Pinkbike choses winners of their Awards to favor certain businesses? Was Pinkbike Game Changer MTB Award on an auction on ebay?
  • 8 5
 Good to see a smart post like yours, makripper. Unfortunately Pinkbike has turned into a travesty of itself. It looks more and more like one of those successful and stupid TV shows.
  • 9 1
 respectfully, i do truly believe those Fest boys were pushing it. i think the rider creates the need and is the change BUT i do have much thnx to PB staff for keeping this rowdy herd informed, inspired and entertained. lookin forward to game changin again in '15. carry on
  • 5 1
 Are you kidding me pinkbike... How can this "award" not go to The Fest series boys?
  • 15 12
 @makripper: It's fine if you don't agree with this choice as being a game changer, and there was certainly plenty of internal debate while we weighed the options, but if you read what the articles says, the Whistler event does fit your own definition of a game changer. The event's difficulty ("newly introduced element or factor") has the potential to "change an existing situation or activity in a significant way." Thus, it qualifies as a game changer.

As far as your claims of the awards being used as advertising, that's completely false. I can assure you that no companies paid for inclusion in the awards, and we, the editors, had complete freedom to nominate whichever products / events / athletes we wanted.

As for the FEST series, those guys rock. There's a reason we published coverage from every single stop on the series - their riding skills are simply on another level. They have a nomination in the Slopestyle / Freeride event of the year, and I'm excited to see what they come up with at next year's events.
  • 11 7
 Fifty minutes ago, when I wrote my comment, makripper had about 150 props.
I've just re-entered and, OH MY GOD, makripper has been massively downvoted (+36 right now). Sorry PB, but I don't believe this amazing miracle, you're like a poor masturbation.
  • 5 0
 I'm really not sure how this event changed anything or will change anything. It will be toned down next year and according to some top EWS racers, there were better races. This race isn't going to change anything short term or long term
  • 2 0
 well, it's changed now, PBers!!! hill and brosnan racing against graves and clementz next month... enduro is not ready for flats!!
  • 6 0
 wasn't the event in Nevados, Chile even more deserving?
  • 1 0
 I dont really have a preference toward FEST but I am surprised this won, booooooring. Does that means Cairns should have been in the mix for having the longest finish sprint ever? To be honest I didnt think any of the nominees were that good, maybe not much actual game changing happened?
  • 195 9
 I'll bet you it's an April Fool's joke and they're going to change it to the FEST guys...oh wait, it's not April? Damn.
  • 35 2
 I thought that event looked cool from the outside. Then I read this, from someone that actually raced it.
  • 11 2
 That Team Robot blog post is a good read. I had heard from some friends that the race was actually fairly terrible, but nobody had put it so eloquently.
  • 39 0
 Let's be honest here... Do the fest guys really need pinkbike's opinion?...
  • 10 0
 Fest series is a game changer. If they had the right venues, the could do multiple rampage style events. (like free skiing) that would be so bad ass!
  • 4 0
 My first thought was Robots would have an issue with this...
  • 3 0
 Yeah, if that is the new game I don't want to play.
  • 6 0
 Screw the Enduro World Series it's all about the Fest serie for the major game changer of 2014,those Fest guys have raised the bar to new heights in every way.
  • 49 5
  • 38 3
 Aaaaand let the shit storm commence.
  • 28 2
 Wow, you guys managed to use two of the most annoying phrases for the same "award". "Enduro" and "Game Changer" both make me wanna barf.
  • 27 2
 Hardline, game changer. Fest, game changer. Enduro, marketing reboot of all-mountain... not a game hanger (except for marketing guy). Maybe this is a marketing award?
  • 24 1
 I was uncertain what to ride in 2015 - Enduro or All Mountain. Now it's all clear. I have to change my game.
  • 9 0
 Indeed. That's why I will change from mx vs. atv reflex to mxgp.
  • 2 6
flag visser62 (Jan 7, 2015 at 6:32) (Below Threshold)
 MXGP is much better than MX vs ATV.
  • 24 6
 How to say it.. The Rise of Amaturo?

One thing is sure, if other venues make stuff even more challenging, then Downhill will have to change to likes of Dan Athertons Hardline, for good and bad. Wait... it's always for good and bad, whatever you do. You want more Ying, you get more Yang baby, one fish does not chase other, it balances it. Preachers, scientists, news anchors, politicians, all sorts of paid smartasses and opinion shaping douches are persistently broadcasting the myth that good will prevail in the end, that we must fight evil, be better human beings and everything will be jolly good - that humanity heads for Ying. Just follow more, do less and buy more, and Ying thy shall recieve. Want MTB to grow? So eat your poop darling, you always were an amateur but now... it's official! The progress not only makes not good enough, your trails are not good enough, the only thing you can have as good enough is your bike... but only until the next big thing arrives.

Sell your GPS tracker, uninstall Strava, there won't be any use of this - buy a fatbike or an useless 120mm trail bike now! All you have left is... riding a bicycle on a trail: For good and bad! Kumbaya my Lord, Kumbayaaaa Big Grin
  • 4 5
 Useless 120mm bike?
  • 19 4
 Hah, I have one. Try to advise someone to buy a 120mm bike instead of 160mm one, on any open forum Wink
  • 7 7
 is it a 26? good luck selling it! no one wants that useless 26inch wheel bike!
  • 2 3
 @WAKIdesigns I just bought a 100mm bike for "freeriding". Do am I the exception ? Big Grin
  • 3 2
 @Voxran, it only depends if you mean "the real freeride". The term is quite regulated, even if not as much as Enduro or Downhill, but only an uninformed noob would treat it too freely. For instance if you ride an XC bike in a bike park you must not say that you are downhilling - you should say instead: I am descending.
  • 2 2
 @WAKIdesigns That's a slopestyle bike for information, and I try jumps like FEST, but I do some less impressive but cool too. SO I think I can say I do some Freeride/Downhill, just with the bike I prefer. Smile
And my message was just for fun Wink
  • 5 1
 ehhh... my comment was very sarcastic and definitely not against you. I know... sarcasm on internet is not a good idea
  • 1 1
 Damn, Waki actually made too much sense in this reply....Mind blown away!!!!
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns Dude, I was trying to be funny too, did we do that wrong, both of us ? Haha
  • 1 1
 my comment was also sarcastic. the internet is dumb
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns @makripper Do you want a beer dudes ?
  • 2 0
 That is not funny!
  • 1 0
 horribly not funny! wahh wahh
  • 13 2
 I fail to see how this will change my daily riding in any way.... at all. Fox Factory buying out Easton/Race Face will actually impact my life somehow. There are plenty of other things outside the nominees that actually impact my daily riding (Fat Bikes and 650b reaching critical mass for example or maybe 1x11 going mainstream)

This was a "game changer" for the professional endruo racer crowd. Despite the best efforts of the bike industry, most average people who ride their bikes couldn't care less about it. You can't even make the case that this race is going to improve bikes for everyone because that's already been happening.
  • 1 0
 HA! I love the "graphs and charts", that was a fun read.
  • 3 0
 "And by "enduro media gods" I pretty much mean Matt Wragg"


they really laid into the course
  • 2 1
 Even Jared Graves said that he didn't understand the applicability of the EWS Whistler to the entire discipline. To be honest, neither did I. It just seemed like a waste of talent and time, but I suppose that the Whistler EWS changed the game in the same way I write -- there's always a line that signifies 'too far'. Whistler EWS seemed like that line. It created a point of reference, a 'too far' boundary for a developing discipline and a lot of the riders. Live and learn, I suppose. Live and learn.
  • 11 1
 It's been a game changer in Ireland. We've never had things called Bike Parks and uplifts because we don't have a ski season and there's been no investment in mountain biking. Previously, if you wanted to race, you had to enter the DH races that were only every once in a while and you had to get in the back of a tractor trailer with your 6 tonne bike and get 3 runs on the 2 minute track over the course of a weekend. Or, you could put on some lycra and get bored on an XC track if you wanted. I'm not knocking these races. I still do DH races. But it wasn't very accessible for the everyday mountain biker who just wanted a bit of fun.

Enduro was the introduction of a race format that allowed everyone to use the bikes they had, the bikes they were casually shredding on every weekend, and race them. It has exponentially increased the excitement in the lives of everyday mountain bikers and encouraged many more everyday mountain bikers to enter races, become better, faster. Everyone I know and everyone I see on the local trails is enjoying mountain biking by a factor of 10 because we have a race that's fun, for everyone and as competitive as you want it to be. It is a race format that has definitely changed the game of mountain biking in Ireland.

It has also brought about the improvement of mountain bikes. In three to four years, 160mm mountain bikes have become brilliant machines that are immensely capable. It now makes sense to invest in a bike that can hit some seriously gnarly trails because you can cycle it back to the top again. With no uplifts, owning a DH bike used to be a bit of a waste of time in Ireland.

I'm sick of seeing the obvious "Enduro" slating comments on here. It's just a race format. And its a great race format that lets you and me race our bikes against our mates.
  • 6 2
 Erm, they're saying the Whistler EWS race was a game changer because it was a challenge for the pros, they then go on to say that they should make the EWS a pro only series. Therefore preventing you or me from entering and rendering the point you make completely irrelevant.
  • 6 0
 Yeah. I agree. I guess I was really just responding to the Enduro-attackers in these comments rather than the article.

Pro-only Enduro in Canada: not a game changer

Enduro for all: totally great!
  • 1 0
 the game changer isnt enduro. the game changer is EWS Whistler. Not the same thing
  • 10 1
 Well, seems like I'm out of the loop. The winning game changer was the only nominee I did not pay any attention to this year.
  • 5 0
 it's against the whole point and spirit for enduro to go to pro only events imo. this maybe was a beast event but the others were great too. perhaps a pro only class could be in order where amatuers have longer transfer times, shorter stages, fewer stages or something... I don't know but to seperate it entirely seems to defeat the object. if thats the way then we already have wcdh which is wicked to watch and arguably far better as spectator sport which enduro would exclusively become if the game did go this way.
  • 5 1
 I just don't really get this catagory? a game changer for me this year was getting a new truck and finally getting the quiver of bikes that i have been workin at getting for years, not sure an enduro race across the continent changed my game? Maybe a game changer for the people marketing the enduro craze, but not really a game changer for me.
  • 4 0
 I am a bit worried about pb. The reviews are getting soft, sometimes to the point of feeling like advertising. The event coverage doesn't seem to catch angles that would upset organizers. I know that you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but the news needs to be accountable to the readers, not the nice guys who put the race together or made the bike you are testing. I hope I am not offending you guys. You have been tremendous in teaching me a lot about biking and providing me with a place to talk about it all. I just am afraid the company is losing focus or something.
  • 10 2
  • 5 2
 I know it wasn't this year but charger damper #gamechanger
  • 8 3
 Peaty turning 40! Now that was a game changer!
  • 4 0
 Not really, I think Peaty defines age just being a number, he still shreds.
  • 1 0
 No chains.
  • 6 1
 One race in one discipline was harder than other races in that discipline. Indeed a game changer.
  • 7 3
 Are you dumb, pinkbike? How did Fest series not win? Is it because the Fest series isn't an official sponsor that gives you money and pays your salary?
  • 3 0
 It's hard to win an award when one isn't even nominated. Your comment should be on the previous nomination post.
  • 4 4
 The Fest series was spectacular - no doubt about that - but making features mega-huge was pioneered by the Rampage. That aspect of the Fest series was predictable. The premise that entrants can ride the contest how they please and be judged by fellow competitors for the win is the potential game changer that Fest brings to the table. That should have been implemented to some degree in judged competitions since their inception in our sport. We will give it another year to see how the format fleshes out and also to judge if it affects how promoters run comparable venues - especially the FMB series. The Fest series will no-doubt be on the nominations for 2015.
  • 2 0
 Question. I'm 43 and have a job that lets me ride as much as I want. We spend a week in Whistler, every year, the week prior to Crankworks. Is there a Masters or Novice Div. for the race? I will be racing in the BC Enduro Series this year as it's a non-agro, friendly, drink beer atmosphere that includes 5 awesome venues around the province. Any input would be appreciated.
  • 3 0
 So ya wanna be a game changer, don't ya?
  • 3 0
 Right now, I'm just changing my bandages. I smashed my collar bone into 7 pieces a month ago riding Galbraith in Bellingham. Just about poked my f__cking eye out with the piece that came through the skin. Riding like a 23 year old instead of riding my age has caught up to me. Keeping the wheels on the ground may keep me riding another 20 years...hence, is there a masters/novice division. I want to finish it, not win it.
  • 2 0
 Totally get your point. I'm 35 and broken already 7 times (both collar bones, both wrists - luckily never at the same time, ribs, shoulder blade etc..). But that's what I mean. You have to Endure! Good luck mate!
  • 5 0
 Pinkbike articles that involve the opinion of the writers suck. Including bike reviews.
  • 2 0
 This is such f*cking bullshit.
I'm not surprised though, this is Pinkbike.
The Whistler EWS could win an award for the WORST race of the year.
22 reasons that enduro race sucked: spoiler alert- 18 of them were how much pedaling there was. The other 4 were timing issues.
“I should have signed up for a cross country race. There would have been less f*cking pedaling.” -Everyone with half a brain who has ever entered a lame regional enduro event.
  • 1 0
"I want to mention something that a lot of people have started talking about, and it certainly came up this week. I want to talk about this because it’s been building amongst riders all season, and I agree with a lot of concerns people have. And what’s the good of having a blog if you can’t share some honest opinions. This year there seems to be a fair number of race organizers pushing how far is too far within the sport. It seems like one race keeps trying to out-do the last, as far as making it difficult for the riders to race. Races like this one won’t do a whole lot to get people into the sport. Stages 1-4, while fun to ride, were a whole different ball game to race. Where was the flow…there was no real variety in any of Stages 1-4. We need to be tested and pushed, but these stages weren’t enjoyable to race. And that’s been happening more and more this year. The 2013 race in Whistler was tough, and it was almost doubled this year. Seems this course was picked without a thought of potential rain getting involved. If it had been muddy, a lot of sections of most stages would have been extremely dangerous, even borderline unrideable. People have said to me that they don’t like the direction some races have taken, but then say the exact opposite to the organizers. Seems to me, the best direction for the sport to go is finding that happy middle ground between being pushed to our limit and keeping it fun."
  • 6 1
 Edward Masters - The Spirit of Enduro
  • 4 1
 pretty sure they were challenged at peebles too and didn't they race at whistler last year. How the fuck does one race equal a game changer
  • 2 0
 That Graves picture is just awesone it explains everything that sport is and how the event went, and at the same time there was no need to show a bike. Really good picture, I might have save it to my favs.
  • 1 0
 Controversial and slightly confusing for me even as a massive enduro and EWS fan but I'm sure there were reasons and I'm sure they follow a much broader scope of mountain biking than myself.

Personally my game changer for mountain biking wasnt the fest series, or EWS Whistler, it was Peaty's student taking on the world and winning - the year of the Rat Smile
And my personal game changer was EWS Tweedlove, 5 days in reality, wed/thurs practise, Friday bike prep/service/mechanicing (as I'm not a pro with team mechanic) and rest for the pedalling legs before Sat/Sun 2 massive days on the bike with a great selection of stages.

Here's to 2015!
  • 6 4
 This is the direction I want to see Enduro racing go. My local resorts put on some events, but the whole thing was just 45 minutes including transfers
  • 2 1
 How in gods name did you do a full enduro in only 45 minutes .... Now I'm no mathematician but that seems a little quick... The last Enduro i raced I was In the saddle for just over 10 hours.....
  • 1 0
 Ontario has small hills, we're talking 150m of elevation, and just 3 dowhill stages
  • 1 0
 Here in Georgia we have really small hills!!!! The closest lift acess mountain is 6hrs away!!! This race was actually really long though, there is a local "enduro" in March that is only like 9 or 10 total miles of riding, it's an all day event though, the race you did sounds really fun, although alittle short for my liking it sounds epic reguardless!
  • 1 0
 Nice way to stay away from "thats not Enduro" discusion guys.
  • 1 0
 Thank you! Salute
  • 3 0
 googans need not apply? We need a new format (yes another one) for us mere mortals... "Funduro"
  • 3 0
 Enduro 2 Wink
  • 1 0
  • 1 2
  • 2 1
 No pb you are wrong on this one this is not the future reading riders interviews this round was endured by all and not enjoyed by any. keep the format as is all sports need consistency
  • 3 2
 Hey pinkbike mods, can we get a fail of the year poll? Take all the fail of the month vids throughout the year and have a poll to find the finniest/best crash
  • 1 1
 Fest was indeed a game changer. However the reason it's so rad is because it's not the mainstream. Let's say Fest is Rain in blood, let's say the enduro World Series, is Sail. Which is sicker?
  • 1 0
 Both are shit.
  • 2 0
 This award should go to us...we hash tagged a kid into whip off worlds...and then he beat all the pros.
  • 1 0
 I got mud on my enduro bike!! The trail is unridable!!! Waaaaaaaaaa....that's what I'm getting from all the post here.
  • 1 0
 Annnd marketing raises it's ugly head...
  • 1 1
 Most complaints about this venue from the racers:
Enduro or Endurance Race?
  • 1 0
 ......I just died a little inside
  • 1 0
 Game changer, rad, Pinner, sick = bu11sh1t bingo
  • 1 1
 well... if Graves was that tired... imagine me!!!!
  • 1 0
 That's weak...
  • 2 3
 I'm so sick of the word Enduro.
  • 1 1
  • 1 2
 fest series
  • 1 3

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