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Video: Max Fredriksson’s Perspective on Why the Male Slopestyle Riders Decided to Not Compete at Crankworx Rotorua

Mar 27, 2024 at 20:00
by Sarah Moore  

A behind the scenes look into what happened last week at Crankworx Rotorua ahead of the Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza from Max Fredriksson's point of view. You can read more about the rider strike here.

bigquotesAfter a tough week of negotiations and meeting with the organisation of Crankworx we were left with no other option than to stand our ground and not participate in the event that they put on.Max Fredriksson


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Member since Mar 30, 2011
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186 Comments
  • 201 30
 The PB comment section wants the riders to make more money, yet the same comment section losses their minds when told they have to pay to watch mountain bike racing. Here come the downvotes....
  • 11 5
 Crankworx could've avoided pay cuts for the riders though
  • 73 2
 The new organization raised pit fees. Has been working on the idea of cutting the field more and more. I'm not aware of any rider pay increases. Arguably downgraded coverage (hoping they work that out). Not saying you're outright wrong, in terms of people paying for content, but it's definitely hard to sell content that was previously free AND better quality. Especially when you know that money is NOT going to the riders. So. Slightly disingenuous argument there unless you've heard of rider pay increase the last 2 years. (although DH could literally double the pay and it would still be a comically small amount, obviously the rider pay is mostly from team contracts... so again, this argument just isn't on the mark of this topic I'd wager)
  • 39 24
 Right. The cost to watch DH last year was the cost of a beer at the bar. People want everything to be free without consider what that costs.
  • 140 1
 @bertimusmaximus: None of that money was going towards the riders and the overall experience was worse than when it was free.
  • 29 4
 Not the best year in the MTB market to be asking for more money.
  • 9 0
 @spicysparkes:
This is the answer that is 100% spot on @TstruckMTB and @bertimusmaximus
I hope UCI/Discovery sees that, I am ready to pay even more and I think a lot of people do but not to be pulled in to a weird subscription game. Riders did not seem to be very happy about the new system and Privateers (therefore also a lot of new/young riders) have less of a chance. Unless I got everything totally wrong people are not willing to spend money to streaming services that won’t be able to compete with the free format we had before to then see that the riders don’t profit from.
If you can change my view please go ahead and elaborate
  • 34 2
 I don’t know. The Super Bowl is the biggest sports event in the US and is free to watch. Rabbit ears will still pick up NBC, CBS and Fox. I think this is more an issue of promotion and sponsorship acquisition failures on the part of the organizers, not stingy fans. It’s a niche discipline in a niche sport so I get the challenges but not attracting viewers and revenue is typically the fault of the business and its model, not the end user.
  • 14 3
 I wish the riders would have started this conversation, and held strong, years ago when slopestyle and the sport, in general, were in a better place. I suspect they aren't in a great bargaining position now and will speed up the demise of the competition. They should be making much, much more, and probably would be if they weren't so young...
  • 12 1
 If I only knew that my money would go towards riders pay increase to make it actually decent at some point then I'm more than happy to pay, sadly it was not the case
  • 32 2
 @bertimusmaximus: I don’t pay for warm watered down beer at the bar either.
  • 3 6
 How about making slopestyle fans pay $100 to watch and then use half the money to make downhill racing free to watch again?
  • 4 7
 @spicysparkes: this EXACTLY!

We'd pay $30 a month if it improved the quality of life for the riders. So far all that has happened as things have gotten worse for them.
  • 15 10
 Top paid cirque de soleil performer makes $180K per year, performing multiple times a week to thousands of people per show. To me this is the most comparable career as far as “risking your life”, and is waaaay more popular than any MTB discipline
  • 7 3
 This is just it. for them to pay those whom are competing. they will need to take in revenue in order to do so. Therefore i'm not paying to watch people ride bikes. ...So Fuk em! My coin will be used to tend to my own bike and endeavors.
  • 3 0
 @slickwilly1: 1,300 performers though, and ticket prices to match.

Side note: the new ringling brothers circus has bmx riders and a trials rider too. Longer show, cheaper tickets and no story to try to explain to the people/kids that don’t get it.
  • 3 0
 Anyone know who owns the content? Can riders monetize footage on their socials? Helmet cam stuff? Or actual filmed footage? There’s some really valid arguments that this shouldn’t be an issue between riders and the event organizers, but between riders and their sponsors. Do these guys have agents? I’m all in favour of these riders being able to make a healthy living, I do wonder if they’re barking up the wrong tree. I also hate the fact that lots of athletes need to be social media darlings to really progress financially (take Suga Sean O’Malley vs Demetrius Johnson for UFC fans out there), but it seems to be the new medium for getting eyeballs on ads.
  • 4 0
 Free vs Pay to view is a permanent tug of war between broadcaster and sponsors. The broadcaster wants to make money directly from the product, the sponsors want the widest audience possible. If they're truly serious about the 'good of the sport' a model similar to Moto GP where the teams each own a stake in the operating company and get a portion of the TV revenue might be a good idea. The amounts of money involved would be pretty modest but when riders are apparently crowd funding each other just to get to events it would be a start.
  • 3 0
 The issue is no other similar sports athletes rely on the promotor or racing organization to make up the majority of their pay. Supercross for example, the riders are making all of their money from salary/bonuses from the teams and the sponsors they have secured not money from making main events or wins.

Now Crankworx I think is different, its not very popular except for the people that are attending the event so its more of a performance or show in that sense so there isn't really TV exposure or anything so to me it should be more of a appearance/prize money sort of thing.
  • 3 0
 @robito: one of the fist things he talked about in the video is how they have been fighting for these same changes for years and this was their last resort…
  • 3 0
 Personally, I don't mind paying to watch sports I care about but when something used to be free and now there is a cost it's reasonable to expect that the coverage is as good or better than the free product was.
  • 1 0
 @somebody-else: this is what you get in US? oh my god
  • 2 1
 I’m happy to pay for proper coverage and the correct people in the broadcast booth!!!
  • 133 1
 I can’t decide which side of this I stand on.

On the riders side:
Everything he says sounds nice, but there’s no substantiation to anything. “Years and years” “there’s a lot more behind it, I don’t know if I want to mention it” “sustainable” “sustainable” “sustainable”
How long? What happened and when? What’s the “lot more”? There was never a definition or description provided for what “sustainable” means here.
I am all for supporting the riders, but I truly don’t know what’s “broken” currently. I have a fuzzy idea, but that’s it.
I understand that insurance is expensive and you gotta pay for it somehow. Isn’t that just life (for most countries)?
I am 100% on board with the ideas of earlier start times.
I don’t know how I feel about “appearance fees”. Do other not-mainstream sports do this? I can’t think of a single non-mainstream sport that does this, but I guess they are out there?
Covering accommodations and food- again, idk. Could an allotment suffice?

On the Crankworx side:
I have no idea where the money goes. If I could see the Crankworx P&L, then maybe I could form an opinion.
Do the organizers make $75/hour, or are they making $20?
What’s the total revenue?
What’s it cost to just make an event happen?
What percentage of revenue goes to prize money?
If the money just straight up isn’t there for what the athletes want, then it isn’t even a decision for the organizers.

I think people are divided on this one simply because there’s so much that we don’t know.
  • 17 2
 One of the best post on this I’ve read so far. Thank you for thinking more.

Very few on these posts have dug into the financials before posting their feelings.

We need more facts than seems to exist at the moment. I can only say for sure, being in the industry, there is not a lot of money this year as previous. Hopefully that turns around.
  • 29 1
 Here's a recent presentation on the economic success of Crankworx Rotorua, with some numbers:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvJsqjD4PqU&t=576s
It costs a lot to put the event on, but the Rotorua council and the national government contribute a significant amount (Govt committed $1 million for the 2022 Crankworx Grand Finale, $700,000 for 2023, $1 million for 2024 and $800,000 in 2025, 2026 and 2027). The region gets a significant return on that investment.
Why should the athletes participate at a financial loss when no one else is expected to?
  • 8 2
 I'm in the same boat. Everything is so vague that it's hard to take a position on either side. Seems like if I were one of the riders, I'd come out and state some specific bullet points on what I disagreed with. Also, a 25 minute video? Not in 2024.
  • 18 2
 Slopestyle is closer to watching the globetrotters play the generals than any sort of serious race. Give them the appearance fee!
  • 5 1
 @maqomaqo1: Isnt that the same as saying every one of New Zealand's 5.2 million people contributed roughly .19 cents to put on Crankworx Rotorua 2024?
  • 7 2
 Well thought out.

Other mainstream sports do pay appearance fees. Golf (outside the US). The offseason supercross events such as Paris. The top riders in McGrath’s day used to make a lot. Not sure what it is these days. These 2 sports are massively larger than Slopestyle.

I think the real problem is the riders have chosen to make their career in a very niche sport. How many of us thst ride bikes can even begin to do what slopestyle riders do. I can ride dh, enduro, xc on the same tracks as the pros, just a whole lot slower. I couldn’t do the most basic tricks these guys do. Therefore, I don’t own a dirt jump bike. I do own a trail, enduro and DH bike. I would assume the majority of mountain bikers don’t own a dirt jumper. Even if you do, they are very cheap compared to mountain bikes. This would lead me to believe the bike company profits on dirt jumpers are quite low. No promoter is going to pay high dollars for minimum return. Mountain biking itself is a niche sport. In an already niche sport, existing as an even smaller niche doesn’t add up to higher salaries.

Here’s a possible suggestion: All the riders get together and pool their money to host an event. They would be responsible for paying for all costs including the venue, insurance, staffing and prize money. I would imagine the money left over would not be worth it.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I don’t think it will ever put much money in the riders pockets unless their sponsors want to make it worth it.
  • 17 1
 My personal biggest takeaway is that of the 3 things the riders want, two of them are about money. But the riders keep saying it’s “not about money”. So I’m clearly missing something.

1. Earlier start time (not about money)
2. Accommodations being covered (this is about money)
3. Appearance fee (this is about money)

It just kinda comes back to “sustainable”; what does this mean?

It sounds like it’s in reference to any individual rider’s ability to afford to simply make it to and compete in the event, which is understandably difficult for young riders with a lack of financial resources. If the up-and-comers can’t afford to compete, and that’s the root of the “sustainable” aspect of all of this, isn’t that directly tied to money?

I’ve just never seen any competitive sport where getting in to the “big leagues” doesn’t involve an individual’s ability to simply “figure it the f*ck out” in the early stages of their career. It seems that generally, the folks competing at the highest levels within competitive activities that have high barriers to entry (cars, bikes, anything requiring a lot of travel) simply had greater access to financial resources that helped them get there. Yes, there are loads of stories of coming from “nothing”, but they are probably the minority in the grand scheme of things.

I just have a hard time figuring out what’s truly “broken” on either the rider side or the Crankworx side. It just feels like an expensive, niche sport, with low profit margins, in a segment of an industry that has a relatively small “total market value”. This is why it’s hard to understand and find a side to align with.

But again, I don’t know what I don’t know. And no one is telling me.
  • 2 1
 @maqomaqo1: I haven’t watched the video yet, but I will.

That’s great to see so much money being contributed, but it means nothing to contribute $1 million if the total expense of the thing is $1.1 million.

I understand the region would get a return in the form of tourism, additional tax revenue, etc. But it’s not reasonable to take the “regional return” and someone figure out how to re-disperse that to the people competing in the event. The athletes would have to be contracted government workers that receive commissions on tax revenue…? That’s just not a thing.
  • 7 0
 @GreenLineSlayer: Tom Isted just put up a similar video, and dives into a bit of the finances from a riders perspective. Basically for his 3rd place last year, after all was said and done (prize money, accommodation, food, taxes, transportation, flights, insurance etc) he roughly broke even. For last place, the total prize money is like $150. Alternate riders get nothing financially. So other than the Redbull/ heavily sponsored athletes, no one is making it work.
  • 3 0
 @joecrosby: and its $1M NZD, about £450k. Ask any music festival or similar outdoor event organiser and they'll tell you that infrastructure & operational costs will soon gobble that up.
  • 11 2
 @leon-forfar: what Tom is telling us is that under the terms of his contract with his sponsors, he isn't paid enough to be able to afford to attend events all over the world. Is it therefore the role of contest organizers to ensure that Tom gets himself a contract that allows him to live the lifestyle he aspires to?
  • 4 1
 @joecrosby: watch the video, the Govt contribution is only part of it. Commercial sponsors contributed $1.1m in 2023, the organisers also charge entry fees for the last three days of events. They spend 1.18m on local suppliers. The rest is likely used up on salaries, licensing, and other stuff. Their goal is to not go over budget. But in all of this why is rider accommodation, sustenance, travel etc out of budget? Why are they not considered to be one of the core costs? Why does everyone expect them to appear at a personal financial loss?
  • 3 1
 @andyrm: more like $3m+ in total. But tell me do the musicians at these festivals get paid? the bigger acts at Glastonbury get £200k -£500k each. It is one of the costs included in event budget.
  • 4 2
 @maqomaqo1: Because they aren't employees of the company putting on the event? If you want it to be Nitro Circus just call it Redbull Circus and fly everyone around the world putting on shows.
  • 2 0
 @Maslin02: literally no one is arguing they should be on salary, and its nuts to think invited riders would have to be employees to have some of their costs covered
  • 78 21
 It's been pretty disheartening to see the community's response to seeing riders collectively work together for a better future for themselves. There have been a number of bad faith arguments here and there that act like these guys make 7 figures. And I've even seen some arguments where they compare SS riding to people's day jobs more or less... As if the inherent danger and expensive insurance isn't a huge issue that the average worker wouldn't encounter. Hell, a good job offering insurance is one of the bigger perks in this country. I believe both sides have valid points... But putting down the riders asking for better event organization and a pay increase is just a massive bummer. Like... If it was just a tiny minority of people I could ignore them. But seeing the community nearly split on this scenario is a huge bummer. It reminds me of the crabs in the pot thing. Shitting on your fellow neighbor making under 100k. It sucks dude
  • 24 60
flag Bro-LanDog (Mar 27, 2024 at 21:18) (Below Threshold)
 You'll never be able to get sympathy for pay for a job that's recreation at the core. He's free to make good money sweating and doing things people wouldn't do if they weren't getting paid like the rest of the world
  • 56 7
 @Bro-LanDog: hold up. You'r saying that if I enjoy my job as an engineer, I should be willing to do it for worse pay than someone who works only for the sake of a salary?

Okay, maybe that's a stretch and you litterally only mean they shouldn't expect sympathy. But I think that's rubish, because we should expect people to be better. Just because you enjoy your job, doesn't mean you deserve no sympathy when it comes to compensation.
  • 22 1
 @Bro-LanDog: That's the wrong argument. Take football, tennis, golf, basketball, etc. They're all recreational sports, and the athletes make large sums.

The bottom line is. How many T-shirts do they sell? The NBA has over 1200 games per season, each attracting thousands of fans, with scores more on television. Kids want the latest kit that costs over $100 each. MTB is nowhere near this and shouldn't be because otherwise, we wouldn't be able to ride in the mountains anymore.
  • 7 2
 Totally agree that there are valid points on both sides. I think PB (or some outlet) should do a podcast/debate where both sides get argued which is right.

Do the research beforehand, grind the numbers, make the case for each and lay everything out. What the riders weren’t asking for wasn’t a ton, but what are the margins that the event has, and can they maintain profitability if ALL riders now want comp at some future point? I don’t know the answers, just saying a debate would be awesome.
  • 10 3
 @TTASS: Yep. The argument I was going for throughout this debacle was fix the lodging and catering and fix the schedule to avoid wind delays. Basically, agree on the logistical tasks. Then, as far as pay goes, compromise in so far as budget goes. Non-locals can have flight covered and local wildcards/alternates will get an appearance fee. (The goal here is to not have athletes end up literally in the negative on the trip despite being part of the show/event. The big guys who are winning are already the guys with bigger contracts and a cushion if they crash out, as well as earning win bonuses.)
  • 3 0
 @lepigpen: That all sounds fair. Its just the case of where the additional revenue is generated to cover these additional costs. Maybe do a Crankworks in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi etc... that could snag a larger sponsor. BUT, if you do this for the slope style guys n gals, what about the other competitors taking part in other events?
  • 13 11
 @mitochris: the atheletes make large sums because they are marketable. I'd be willing to bet 99/100 people who bought mtb's the last year haven't even heard of crankworx nonetheless watched a clip.

And I'd have the same feeling if/when they complain about money too. You're playing a game, who cares. Let me know when they're repairing powerlines in a blizzard if you want my sympathy for their pay
  • 4 19
flag Bro-LanDog (Mar 28, 2024 at 5:56) (Below Threshold)
 @FrederickJ: nobody:
Nobody at all:
Random German on PB: As aN EnGiNeEr
  • 5 0
 @Bro-LanDog: I think you just argued my point. Football/basketball etc are marketable. MtB is not. Your initial argument was that they are doing a recreational sport but that’s irrelevant. The fact is that MTB is not marketed to an equal audience.
  • 3 16
flag Bro-LanDog (Mar 28, 2024 at 7:03) (Below Threshold)
 @mitochris: it's not irrelevant when they're crying about pay when people are doing it for free or even spending money to do it
  • 14 2
 I don't think anyone here assumes that these guys are making 6-7 figure salaries (except for maybe a couple, but that's entirely because of sponsorships). No one is making that from prize money in the mtbing.

I think everyone agrees that riders should have some say in course safety and event timing to ensure conditions are safe.

I think many here disagree that it's Crankworx responsibility to make sure these athletes can get to their venue and have a place to stay and many will disagree that it's Crankworx responsibility to make sure these guys are earning a living.

I'm honestly super skeptical that all the riders are on the same page about pulling out. I have no doubts that some of the younger and up and coming riders felt at least a bit of pressure from the big, established names. I'm also curious what kind of ramifications and/or fall out they felt from the sponsors they have, regardless of what level it is? I'm willing to be there are some pretty pissed off sponsors and can almost guarantee there won't be any strikes on the next three Crankworx stops.
  • 5 0
 @FrederickJ: You guys never miss an opportunity to tell us you’re engineers, do you?

But still, good points.
  • 10 0
 If there's so much money to be made then the riders should just organize their own event and sell tickets, they can agree on how to split up the money. Slopestyle is a niche style in a niche sport, I'm guessing there isn't so much money to be made. At a certain point, maybe the danger isn't worth it for the small pay.
  • 5 5
 @Bro-LanDog: what would you complain about on your day off then? If you don’t care, don’t talk. Other people do care, and have sacrificed their well being for your entertainment. Every job has a purpose whether it’s essential or not. I dare you to sweat as much as the last place rider has in his journey
  • 8 4
 @greg-watts: quit being so dramatic lmao sacrificed their wellbeing for my entertainment? Cry me a river if I never see a backflip bar spin again. I'd be gutted lmao get real
  • 2 0
 @FrederickJ: He is also saying a person should make more money if their job insides risk of constant physical injury.
What he is saying is someone who could die at work every single day should be compensated for that risk.
  • 52 7
 Probably every pro rider wakes up in the middle of the night wondering why the Professional Bass Fishing pays out $7 million dollars in prize money - for eight fishing tournaments- in 2023.
  • 70 25
 Many more sponsors. Have you ever been to a bass pro shop or cabelas? Absolutely massive and top knotch. Slopestyle and dh racing are just so small in the grand scheme of things. Big money goes to road and xc.

Just be grateful that you can ride for a living is how i feel about it. The whole “put their lives at risk for competition” is so played out. That is the sport. Its obvious that it is dangerous. Does not mean you will get paid millions just because you can do death defying stunts. The fact of the matter is that it is just too niche. Lots of these guys have homes and cars and free travel and dont have to work 9/5 desk jobs. Some dont. Some work regular jobs and also compete. But all have a choice. Wake up and pursue a passion or go join the corporate world. Money doesnt always follow. Pro golfers swing a club and get 10’s of millions with no risk of injury. Dh racers/ slopestyle riders risk it all in a minutes time for pennys on the dollar. It just is what it is.

They could have called off the slopestyle before it started and said they collectively arent attending this one. But they knew it would be a bigger statement if they showed up and went on strike. Sucks for the fans who paid to travel just for a pity party. Fans are the ones who pay the bills. No fans, no riders get paid. Its like that for every sport. The more fans there are, the more money that flows. Die hard fans will stick it through. But im sure some will just move on.
  • 13 27
flag jray152 (Mar 27, 2024 at 21:00) (Below Threshold)
 @scottyrides5: volunteer to work. If you don’t like the conditions and pay at your job. Then quit.

If it’s your passion, then shut up about the pay and benefits and do what you love.
  • 14 0
 Did not know that. Maybe I'll dust off the old rod
  • 12 0
 @fektor-b: careful, that can go wrong ; )
  • 20 24
flag lev3000 FL (Mar 27, 2024 at 23:22) (Below Threshold)
 @scottyrides5: they don’t want millions, they want €2000 appearance fee and some catering. Bit of a difference you idiot.
  • 20 2
 @scottyrides5: That there is less money to be made due to a lower viewership or less mainstream support is true. But it can also be argued that make the professional side of the sport more appealing, increase the popularity and therefore increase thearket.

I think the viewpoint that they (the top riders) should be grateful to do be able to do what they love is bogus. One could just as easily say to someone with a 9 to 5 desk job "be grateful that you can afford insurance and do this till you're 60 without taking major risks". Workers strike too, and that is (in most countries) considered legal and acceptable, when there is a disagreement between employer and employees regarding compensation and working conditions. If you don't support strikes in general, that's a differebt debate.

These dudes are also not asking for millions. I am hearing, that they want riders with less popularity to be able to more easily partake. The hyperbole is not helpful here.
  • 4 0
 Payout at PBF pales in comparison to the Tour de Fish with all anglers competing for the coveted Yellow Fin. XSea is a close second in popularity.
  • 11 8
 @FrederickJ: How is going on strike and ruining one of the big events of the year for those who paid to attend or bought broadcast rights going to help grow the sport? The short answer is there aren’t enough people in the world bothered enough about slopestyle to make it a profession unless you are in the top very very few. That’s the simple facts of life. If riders want paying more then they need to come up with a product to offer that makes commercial sense to everyone and will attract enough people willing to pay enough for it to work.
  • 7 3
 The American/ROW divide is so strong in this comment section.
  • 12 4
 @FrederickJ: Crankworx isn't the rider's employer... They are the organizers of a competition.

If you want to race DH or enduro in in Europe, the UCI isn't paying for your travel and accommodations, even if you're trying to become a professional dh racer. If you want to want to participate in those events, you have to figure out how to make it work. Slopestyle isn't, and shouldn't be, any different.
  • 2 0
 Because the recreational fishing industry is a massive business, many billions of dollars a year.
  • 4 0
 @chrismac70: The same can be said of any strike. Strikes can lead to change. I'm not saying they always do, and I'm not even saying that it was the best course of action here. I'm just suggesting that we apply the same standard to all people earning a living.

If the strike really ruins that much, then it may cause change. I think in particular an appearance fee or at least accommodation fee could make it more accessible. More accessible means more potential participants who one would hope increases popularity.

And if it changes nothing and it remains a tiny niche sport, then the 'market demand' is clearly not enough to warrant higher payout and then things can just continue as they did. This will show whether the demands and expectations of the rides are reasonable. As the 'employees' in this equation, the riders should at least be given the same chance as any other workforce.
  • 6 3
 @FrederickJ: Rider's in a competition are not employees. They are participants.
  • 5 0
 @jsnfschr: That's a valid point. I wouldn't expect the UCI to pay for travel and accommodation.

I think this slopestyle contest is different though. It is also, to some extent, a show that crankworx puts on. The organiser of a conference, for example, would pay for the appearance of a speaker.

Along those lines, I wouldn't be surprised if red bull paid the accommodation for hardline contenders, since that is a smaller event and is more about the show than the competition, at least in my mind. Hardline would be a good benchmark comparison here in the negotiations for either CW or the riders.
  • 2 2
 @FrederickJ: Red Bull has all the money in the world to do what they want (like provide free broadcast coverage for all kinds of events). There's a reason that the highest paid athletes in action sports (I suspect) are generally sponsored by Red Bull. If you've got enough money to play in the F1 world, you've got enough money to do whatever you want.

Red Bull might broadcast Crankworx, but it's not a Red Bull event, like Hardline or Rampage.
  • 3 0
 @jsnfschr: Yeah, that's true. But the discussion here was not about whether or not CW can afford the demands.

Whether or not the demands are fully realistic is a valid question and worth discussing. I don't know enough about the finances of the riders or the organisers.
  • 4 2
 @FrederickJ: they aren't employed by crankworx, they are employed by their teams. They are striking at the wrong place. They should have told their team they wanted food and a hotel covered. And then if not say "fine time not going to crankworx then."
  • 4 1
 @anotherstoneinthewoods: Many of them don't have teams; they are sole traders, with sponsors who provide them with varying levels of support (in-kind, travel, stipends, guaranteed salary for a happy few, you name it). For some of the smaller fish, travelling is a drain on the finances, and although they love to ride with and compete against the best, perhaps for some of them it is starting to become too expensive, too risky, or both. The top dogs don't have these worries, but they can't compete if there is no competition - they want (and need) a field that is bigger than just a few. It is also in the interest of CW that the field is larger than just a few riders with deep enough pockets to pay for the travel (and afford the hospital bills - if something goes wrong).
  • 24 6
 Good for the riders, much respect and it makes sense. These companies think they hold all the cards and the plebs that actually bring in and hold the value should take whatever crumbs fall off the table and like it.
  • 20 3
 If you believe social media, then you know all these riders have amazing personal jumps at each of their homes. I vote for a grass roots series where they tour each others locals. Let the riders judge the events themselves. All this sport needs is riders and trail builders.
  • 7 15
flag chrismac70 FL (Mar 28, 2024 at 3:09) (Below Threshold)
 Homes they have bough presumably of the pittance and lack of money they earn from the sport. How do3 not getting paid but I can afford a house stack up?
  • 16 1
 The top guys maybe, the other half of the slope guys work construction and live broke to attend events like this, which is why they are striking. An Athelete get's an invite to crankworx slopestyle and has to turn it down or go broke because no expenses are covered while the event makes bank. Maybe the enduro dads of the PB comments think racing is more relatable, but slopestyle gathers the crowd of non-riders and is the headline event whether you like it or not.
  • 8 4
 @luckynugget: Up and coming dh, enduro, and xc privateer racers all work in the off season so they can travel and attend races around the world. How is it that so many more of them are able to make it work when the slope guys can't? What's different about their situations?

How do you know the event is "making bank"? I'm guessing the margins are pretty tight and I doubt anyone is "making bank". I don't think there is enough revenue from broadcasting, merchandise, etc. for there to be any significant profits.
  • 2 1
 @chrismac70: you think every rider makes bank? Pssshh please
  • 16 2
 If slopestyle competition isn't economically viable, then it will go away. At best, the event organizers will provide funding for only 10 riders and run the competition with less people in order for it to be economically viable. Money is not falling from the sky in the bicycle industry right now.
  • 15 2
 Lets remember, It's a diamond level event, you have to be invited to ride. The least they can do is fly riders out, feed em, house em, health insurance em, and a base pay of a couple grand for anyone who doesn't podium (maybe even start cutting bigger cheques for 4th,5th place too), along with riders having more control over safety, start times, weather decisions etc. Event organizers want to put on a show, so pay your performers. There are more than enough multi million dollar companies sponsoring these events, they can find the funds. I think thats fair. In a perfect world all of these guys would make a comfortable living off riding, but it's not.

I think it's a very special thing to be able to say you travel and make money from doing your life's greatest passion with you're friends. There are very very few people on this planet that will never know what that's like. I hope the sport does expand to the point where there's more money in it for riders.
  • 5 2
 This is the point I think a lot of people are missing. Huge televised event that riders are INVITED to. The event should provide food, lodging, and at least help with the transportation fees to get the names they want out there, as well as some unknown riders for a crowd pleasing underdog narrative. Prize money is only good for a few, so increasing that doesn't help out that many people, but if riders don't have to stress about their basic needs, (where am I staying? What can I afford that is relatively close to the event? Can I bring PB&J sandwiches on an international flight?) they're going to ride better and put on a better show.

If it wasn't an invite only event, I wouldn't say the same things because then it would be open to anyone that has the skills and resources, but as an invite only event, help out the riders that are bringing revenue to your competition.
  • 4 2
 @FartanSpartan: I think invite/qualify could be used interchangeably here.

Many competitions require a qualifying process before you get invited to the top tier events. For Diamond Level FMB events, the top 14 ranked riders get invited, plus two wildcard spots. It's not like 14 random's are getting an invite to put on a show.
  • 18 8
 The problem is...slopestyle just isn't that great to watch over and over again for the majority of people that do mountain biking. There's only so many spinny spins you can watch before it becomes figure skating. Couple that with how niche the sport of mountain biking is, the hardcore viewership is just tiny. On top of that, how many bikes can they sell to this hardcore viewership? How many people are buying a trek DJ because Emil won all 3 stops of Crankworx last year? The sport of slopestyle is pretty disconnected from mountain bikers in general I'd argue. Given all that, it's going to be hard for sponsors/advertisers/organizers to put more money into the sport, it's not making them any money. I do hope that all the riders banding together will have better bargaining power, but I wouldn't be surprised if they just kill slopestyle all together.
  • 3 3
 Meh, my wife puts on figure skating every now and then, it seems to have a novelty to me which slopestyle does not.
  • 17 9
 Slopestyle is 0.005% of the market... if that. Thats sums it up. Sponsors would pay you more if they made more off you - thats how it works...
Slopestyle has no value or Interest outside of crankworx... Theres no displays at any bike shows or anything...

If you want paid, Ask your employer, sponsor.
  • 11 0
 Why don’t they just ban Emil!! That would start to share the money around. Problem solved
  • 2 0
 And then ban Dawid. And then...
  • 5 0
 @BenPea: First they came for Emil, and I did not speak out because I am not Emil...
  • 1 1
 Speaking of Emil. Haha. Did you see his face in that group pic of riders "standing" together last week. He probably wasn't happy to be giving up the win and price money...
  • 3 0
 @robito: Except that Emil was the one who read out the demands during the fateful meeting.
  • 9 1
 Crankworx wouldn't exist without slopestyle and slopestyle wouldn't exist without crankworx; shit, the sport and event are like bread and butter. The other events are cute and all, but let's be real, Crankworx is all about slopestyle. The number of people that swarm the slopestyle course at Whistler is insane (not to mention people viewing online coverage or marketing material); those people bring in a metric shit ton of money with them, I don't know who is making that money, but someone is making it BIG but it certainly isn't the riders. Keep fighting the good fight, alone you have no power, but united you have massive influence.
  • 4 2
 The insane number of people swarming the course aren’t paying admission though. And the livestream audience is pretty small compared to just about any other sport. I know there’s a tendency to think joyride is a big deal, but from outside the sport it just isn’t.

The only people making bank off Crankworx are the hotels and bars
  • 2 0
 @notatoad: They charge gate at Rotorua and Cairns as far as I know. One comment I saw said that was to cover exorbitant fees to license the event. It all comes back to us needing to see the books to make an opinion.
  • 7 0
 Riding for prize money only was fine when riders were able to choose which events they could make it to and determine if there is even a possibility of winning before spending all their money on traveling. As soon as Crankworx started to work with FMB and open all the events all around the world, essentially forcing riders to show up or else they will lose their spot, it becomes a larger issue. It is no longer the riders making a decision to come to these events, it is Crankworx and FMB, not to mentuion the pressure from sponsors who want them to be there as well. In that case, they need to take care of their riders and in most cases, essentially their employees. If a rider who gets podium is only breaking even (Tom Isted), then the only reason they are showing up is to keep their placement in the top 14. All they are asking for is enough to be able to show up and not go home broke just for doing their jobs. I know so may riders who are more than capable of competing but unfortunately don't have rich parents to send them out to Austria and Rotorua for one contest, and thats even if they are invited. This has been an issue for many years and needs to change.
  • 6 0
 Once the FMB formed and took over slopestyle, everything seemed to go backwards.
Slopestyle was all in all far more exciting to watch when every event was open and people from all over could sign up, do a qualifier and the best riders on the day made it into the big show.
You would see new faces and different styles come out of nowhere and people absolutely going for it. There were more events worldwide without the barrier to entry the FMB put up with having minimum funds to be an FMB host, because if your event wasn't official in the world tour it wasn't worth it to riders to show up. I do think the FMB killed the growth of the sport by trying to make things so exclusive and professional. It didn't bring more money to the riders and it certainly didn't make it easier to follow slopestyle. Why watch a Bronze or Silver level event, it's not Gold or Diamond so it's obviously not going to be the best riding imaginable? Whereas before the tier system, any competition was exciting to watch to the general public.

The exclusivity of making it into the top 14/16 in the world alone should mean the riders attendance is covered to a certain extent, otherwise what is the purpose of the ranking points system and working your way to the top at the end of the day?
Crankworx Whistler was always the pinnacle of the sport, now with the whole world wide series and the FMB Diamond status, they have chosen to be the invitational exclusive end of the sport and that should entail looking after the athletes who've earned their spot.

I love slopestyle, i used to ride it and it's turned into my job through course building. But it's sad to have seen it drop off from the days of different contests every week of the summer and new faces coming up every season.
  • 3 0
 @phil-mclean: I feel like we would genuinely see slopestyle heal if we went back to how it was. Won't happen now so best thing they can do is try to make it better somehow.
  • 7 0
 Great insight Max! I will also say from 18 years of experience, it’s not about the event promoters, sponsors, or a diva like attitude from the riders. It simply comes down to the riders and their safety/longevity not being a priority at these events when they should. Events need viewership and they spend a crazy amount of money on media coverage, facilitation at the events, vendor space, crowd control, etc. sadly, all the effort the promoters make to bring the action right to your couch from possibly halfway around the world, takes priority. Scheduling a practice or final in the afternoon (at peak viewership and spectator times) is ideal for everyone but the riders. It is dangerous in most bike park towns because of wind and weather, but the media schedule takes priority almost 100% of the time. It’s pretty wild that with the amount of money thrown around, the riders get paid Pennies since that’s the draw for it all. You’d need to get top 5 just to pay for the trip, but guaranteed everyone safely commentating or filming is in the green fully paid for. That’s the problem
  • 6 1
 Hope they figure it out. Women's slope was cool but i definitely missed watching the wild stuff the mens slope style pulls off.

Personally feel like the prize money (ignoring other issues) seems low for how much exposure the event gets and the risk the riders take compared to other events in other sports. I also don't really see how there would be an opportunity to make it as a slope style rider given the current scene unless you hit it big on social media..
  • 5 4
 I’m not sure the event has that much exposure. Sure its a big deal for a small part of the mtb community but it’s probably not even on the radar of 90% of the cycling community and probably doesn’t even register within the wider population who watch sport on tv.
  • 4 0
 @chrismac70: I'd bet $1000 that more people know about Rampage than they do Crankworx. I've talked to normal non-MTB'ing friends about them seeing Rampage on tv before a few times. I don't even hang out with anyone any more that rides dirt jumps, let alone follows slopestyle passionately. I wouldn't doubt your assessment for a second.
  • 8 3
 Its about money don't kid your self, just bring in the next load of kids who want it. Try being a WC privateer you have to work half the year to ride half the year. The industry is on its knees and this is a passion sport love it for what it is NOT MONEY.
  • 7 3
 I am curious to know if all the World Cup racer in all types of racing get appearance fees? Do the organizers feed every athlete? I do think that the athletes sponsors should be the ones responsible for payment of the athletes not the events organizers who bend over backwards to even put the event on. Crankworx is still grassroots IMO. It’s never had a consistent flow of cash and depends on volunteers to make most of the things happen. And maybe charge tickets to watch, like Nitro Circus, which is a show, not a competition.
  • 3 1
 It could be argued that the line between competition and show are blurry for slope style. I'd assumed that tickets are required for entry. if not that is a no brainer idea.
  • 9 1
 @polarflux: it is definitely a show with a competition in the show. Even more of a reason the people in the show should get paid for being in the show!
  • 5 0
 The way it used to be if i remember correctly, was if you wanted to host a Crankworx event in your town it cost a certain amount of money to have the Crankworx branding. That's why Crankworx Colorado turned to Colorado Freeride Festival after a few years under the Crankworx banner. They realized they could host the event themselves without the exorbitant fee to call it Crankworx. By bringing Crankworx in obviously they take on the organizing and drew the crowds having an established name for themselves, so it wasn't worthless, but i'm pretty sure these towns all pay good money to host Crankworx as long as the contract period allows so it's far from a grass roots racing organization with no funds in their pockets.
  • 3 0
 They charge money to watch at every stop other than Whistler.
  • 11 7
 SLopestyle is dying ... fact of the matter is its not bringinbg anymoney in the industry - like DH and enduro...

No one is like , I will buy a slopestyle bike to be like Emil Johansson"...

Its a normal thing that prize money follows the amount of money it brings, just like women football vs man football
  • 12 5
 Not necessarily... It's true that Slopestyle bikes haven't often been great sellers, but the Slopestyle/ Freeride athletes are the ones kids often see and are inspired to buy a mountain bike. That's probably why there's more prize money in freestyle events than racing. It's an important marketing part of the bike industry overall.
  • 8 2
 by that logic, F1 should be non existent
  • 4 1
 @cernoch: A few years ago there was an exhibition is the London Science Museum about F1 developed technology and where it ended up. Technology developed by F1 teams ends up in everything from aircraft to wellington boots and the little automatic valves in boilers. I doubt there's a single cycling company that has that kind of broad reach in technology or the patents that come with it.
  • 6 1
 I feel like I am missing something here... It seems they should have gotten these demands met (or not) long before they got on the plane and spent the money to go.
  • 6 4
 The important thing to appreciate in this mess is the way these riders came together to support each other and take a stand against being exploited. This is no small thing, and what ever other issues need to be resolved, they have my total support and respect for the way they've handled the overall situation. Without these guys putting themselves on the line and sending it like champs, there is no marketable enterprise to squabble over. Unless the suits make sure these guys are well taken care of, everyone involved and the whole sport fails. Kudos riders, for standing up and being willing to shut the circus down until your reasonable demands are met.
  • 5 3
 Honestly. This is Great for the Riders. Hats off to them. It's never easy to go on strike or not do your job and commit to the LT implications and consequences so overall great to see. Bargaining power. This should be also a call out for bike sponsors to pitch in.
  • 4 2
 Paid what you're worth. Just like women's football, people just not that interested in slope. Pretty lame they couldn't let people k ow before hand, only people you f-ed over were the few fans that bought tickets to see male slope. Imagine paying and having to just see female slope lmao
  • 5 0
 Full support of the riders. These guys need to survive and as a community we need to support them.
  • 3 1
 I’m gunna say it. Crankworx Rotorua this year was pathetic. Tiny expo site and sweet bugger all people watching the events. This was before the riders pulled out. 10 yrs is a long time to watch the same shit over and over again. Needs a change of direction.
  • 4 0
 Thanks for being so candid and providing great insight, Max! Rooting for a better, more sustainable future.
  • 3 2
 Seen it for years with Sports, like These none of these athletes realize is in the scheme of things they are not bringing in very much revenue for these kind of events you want more money go to your sponsors that's what therefore to pay for your travel to pay for your accommodations should there be More prize money sure but to ask for all this other stuff is ridiculous. Ask your sponsors. The sport is only Big within a small community. Ask anybody in the world who a slope style guy is nobody knows just like they don't know who professional free skiers are professional, skateboarders, blah blah blah.
  • 5 1
 Without slopestyle, crankworx wouldn’t exist… this forum wouldn’t exist…
  • 1 0
 If you want things to get done hire a good lawyer representing you riders. All this sustainable this and sustainable that, and demanding unreasonable things from the organization in an unreasonable timetable is just plain stupid. You cannot make an organization meet your demands in just a week. Hire a lawyer representing the slopestyle riders and ask for reasonable stuff on a reasonable timetable. If there is a good businesscase I'm sure any organisation will meet reasonable demands.
  • 1 0
 It takes HUGE BALLS to do this and to stick together when everyone is doubting you also takes huge balls. I don’t even watch or have interest in slope style but I do now!! These guys literally make penny’s for risking their lives so asking for accommodations and some money is more than fair!!
  • 6 2
 "years & years" a lot of critics need to take that in
  • 21 20
 Riders make edits about being "faster than you", "more style than you" and "not having a boring job". They get to live the rockstar life, now they say money's not enough. Maybe get a boring job?
  • 7 6
 This offers a lot of perspective and I did change my opinion in favour of the riders. That said, I would like to have heard "all athletes", rather than "all male athletes", looking forward, and sh**.
  • 6 0
 I think the women are already getting an appearance fee.
  • 1 2
 @dannyboybiker: good. Foster the support.
  • 2 1
 @dannyboybiker: If that's the case, I understand the frustration.
  • 4 2
 Thanks Max for giving us some very valuable insight. All the best for the riders you are the sport and us fans are behind you all! Something positive will come of it Cheers
  • 7 7
 The riders should be grateful that events like this exist for them to showcase their skills and attract sponsors. The exposure a rider gets from an event like this can make a career and the rider should make an informed decision as to whether they attend or not based on the risk versus the reward. That said the organisers have a responsibility to ensure the event is as safe as possible and run fairly and efficiently for the competitors.
  • 4 2
 I think one of the problems is you have 2 alternates that in most cases won't ride and don't get any exposure. It's likely that they don't have strong sponsorship to cover costs either.
  • 1 1
 No different than what the NFL (National Felon League) is doing. Starting last year they are putting more and more games onto pay per view, or subscription services like Prime and Peacock. On top of that they are charging $150 for a nose bleed seat in the stadium and blacking out the broadcasts in local markets where games are being played. It's all a sham. Difference is the NFL pays their athletes ridiculous sums of money.
  • 1 0
 It would be interesting if an accurate dollar amount hovered over each post representing their expenditure on slope style events viewing/attendance and related products.

Might be a bit eye opening.
  • 5 3
 People bashing the riders and supporting the event organizers is wild to me. Quit supporting corporations who don't give AF about the riders
  • 1 0
 What bike does max ride? I'm going to go buy one. He's a great rider and I want to support the existence of top level slope style the way we always have. By buying the products of top pros
  • 1 0
 Nevermind, he rides a recalled Cannondale dave
  • 2 1
 Didn't watch the video, but his comeback story is pretty impressive. Great job getting back close to the top of the sport. Not many have been able to do that.
  • 2 1
 I'm on the end of it where I'm never going to pay to watch much of anything, since I'm already paying for netflix/youtube/Prime...so any kind of pay-per is a no for me.
  • 1 0
 Why do you pay for youtube? You can ge5 ad block for free and a downloader for free...
  • 1 0
 @ElliottIB: It's a way to have an ad-free experience and also support the creators of the videos you watch.
  • 1 0
 @ElliottIB: YoutubeTV
  • 2 3
 I must say that demands are reasonable, however it is not fortunate raising them just 48 hours before deadline. Riders must undestand that Crankworx is big project which is managed longterm. Doing last minute changes, especialy moneywise, is not something that project manager can work on easily, when need to work with certain budget. This should have been addressed months before.
  • 3 1
 He did say in the video that they would have ridden if the demands were to be met in at the next Crankworx stop.
  • 2 3
 It has been a 20 year struggle. They knew way in advance I’m sure. Nothing new and nothing has been done. I’ve had to drop in 20 mph winds just to pay for the flight home. Happy to see the riders finally take a stand for their worth and safety
  • 2 3
 Totally agree with riders!!! Crankworx is just busnies now.I did few days in Whistler and it was just because they struggle with poeple and almost canceled EWS and I wouldnt do it again.Just shuttle up to blackcomb was good!!!
  • 2 3
 Appearance fee doesn’t make sense to me in sport. What about prize money all the way down the field to last. Freeride World Tour does it this way. It has to come from somewhere though, and that somewhere is likely the big cheques for the winners. Reduce the top, increase the bottom… sustainable!
  • 4 1
 The "Big Cheques" for the winners barely cover expenses for these events. Making the prize money for 1st half of the cost of getting to the event so the person who comes last can get lunch but none of their flight paid for is not exactly progress.
  • 1 0
 I bought into the subscription with GCN and then let down. I chose to pay and that resulted in the company dissolving and ending my viewing with a rebate. We are screwed
  • 12 12
 If you work for a salary or hourly wage and you are complaining about a group striking or unionising for better pay and conditions you are a class traitor.
  • 2 4
 Evil me would be suing the members of the new Freestyle Union (FU) for breach of contract.
If you can't afford the top 10 riders maybe 11-20 are more open to going under the current terms. Don't know what Crankworks finances are like but like most business post COVID any contingency they had is likely long gone and this was the last thing they needed. I wonder what the riders will do IF Crankworks holds their ground and they no longer have jobs?
  • 1 0
 french aproved, let's go. shake it. no need for someone to lose their head tho. and we want numbers. all of them.
  • 3 4
 Getting paid to ride your bike is a true privilege. If there's no money to pay you then you can't get paid. Time to get a real job.
  • 9 10
 Nice another article with 3 words and a YouTube video I can find of Max’s channel…
Great work PB mods…
  • 7 0
 But then you wouldn't get reems of juicy pinkbike forum banter on the subject.
  • 13 0
 Pinkbike are not the content. WE are the content. And frankly we don't make enough money for it.
  • 2 0
 I wouldn't have ever seen this video if it wasn't here... so I for one appreciate it.
  • 1 0
 @ridedigrepeat: I've been subscribed to Max for a few years on YT. His videos are really high quality and often funny. (Which is to say I'm glad you and others were exposed to the video by PB)
  • 2 0
 @L0rdTom: I propose we form the PUBICHAIR Union: Pinkers Unilateral Bitching Incoherent Comments Have An Inherent Righteousness.

We ask for free Outside+, free Trailforks and win it Wednesday every bloody Wednesday not just "Every Other and nobody ever wins Wednesday". Feel free to ad other waki ideas and I nominate waki as first president of PUBICHAIR.
  • 1 1
 @L0rdTom: true words. Everyone else gets paid though. Creating longevity jobs for hundreds of people at least. Mother Teresa would be proud
  • 2 2
 Whateva!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 2
 when nicola rogatin, paul couderc goes to darkfest do they ask for a 2000 euro rider attendence ?
  • 2 4
 Appalling how all you riders on this website for riders don't support other riders. Actual cognitive dissonance.
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