Last year’s open Qualifier for Crankworx was a gongshow to say the least. I also can’t deny that I was one of the biggest proponents for an open qualifier instead of an invite only event. I was of the belief that there are an enormous amount of talented riders out there that were being overlooked for the usual suspects. That being said the number of injuries and the fear I felt for some of the competitors last year made me want to leave the course entirely during the qualifiers. So, how to get a talented pool of riders without sacrificing Liability (insurance for the event) and unknown talent?
This year the powers that be at WBP and Crankworx came together to do an Invite only deal into Crankworx, but they put together a list of the world’s top riders based on three years worth of events and very recent European results. They left four slots open for riders who didn’t make the cut to qualify. Three slots were being given away (One at The Air Affair and Two at Crankworx Colorado) The Final slot was a wildcard slot given to the top performer at the Nissan Events in Europe (Given to Sam Pilgrim). With all of that under control this last weekend was set to pick one of the final slots for Crankworx.
Unlike last year roughly 50 competitors were entered (as opposed to 100 in 2007) and there was a mandatory performance evaluation on Saturday during practice. A few riders were culled and the remainder were cleared to ride in the contest. Due to liability no inverts (Flips) were allowed during competition but everything else was fair game. The big stunts were kept closed (The stepdown to Giro box and the Step up banana at the very end) but everything else was open and in play.
The usual group of Hooligans.
During Practice it was good to see the guys (And Girl) out there throwing down but the one guy that I was stoked to see was Evan “Griz” Holmgren. He took the winter off to ride BMX and this was the first time I had seen him in a while. He was pumped to be back on an MTB, but it was short lived. He went down pretty hard in practice and hurt his shoulder. Get well soon Griz!
Holmgren doing hard labour.
Holmgren NOC on the first big Double
Justin Wyper had a good shot at winning this comp, but with some gear malfunctions ended up not finishing either run. Considering that his frame was crushing like a beer can and he rode it anyway, he’s got some brass ones for sure. T-Whipping the Step Down on a broken frame, rediculous. Look for him at Colorado.
Justin Wyper with his Tooth in.
Wyper T-Whiping the Stepdown. In the full resolution image you can see his chain hanging off the end of the bike. He broke it half way down the course.
NSMB’s Slopestyle killa’ Mitch Chubey was out in full effect. With a spot already alloted in Crankworx for him it wasn’t even necessary for him to ride. When Mitch rides, there is no halfway. He got stuck out to the left of a tailwhip off of the skinny snake at the top of the course and landed on his shoulder. He qualified for the finals but pulled himself out to rest and open a spot for someone else.
Mitch Chubey hangs out a T-Whip and goes down.
The Qualifiers were filled with young talent. At the top of that pool is Brendan Howey. Signed to Commencal’s superteam this season Howey was out there showing what he’s got.
Howey Sending it
Speaking of Young talent. There was a competitors group of 13-15 year olds for the Air Affair. I was shocked when I looked up to see this kid not only sending the big double above the spine, but no-footing it. I never got a chance to catch his name so if you know, email me. It was both exciting and scary to see competitors this young in the comp. I know these are the next generation of young guns, but I do question whether or not they have the cognitive ability to know their limitations. I wonder if when they see the older guys that are taller and stronger trying bigger moves with more risk, whether they can comprehend the dangers involved with this level of competition. Having seen firsthand the carnage that resulted from last year’s qualifier, and the 4 shoulder injuries and broken leg from this year’s Air Affair, I question the wisdom of letting young groms compete at this level.
13 year old Brin Alexander sending the big lines. Crazy.
Luke Fullton was also out there throwing down. Another great kid and someone to watch for in the near future.
Luke Fullton X’s the stepdown during qualifiers.
It never ceases to amaze me the talent among riders these days. I have known Stubs for a number of years now and it was never a surprise that he was an awesome photographer and videographer. So much so in fact that NSMB scooped him up for our own interests. All of that aside, Stubs kills it on a bike. He has style for miles and only has 70% of the fingers that you do on the bars. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
NSMB’s Dylan “Stubs” Dunkerton with style for miles. Not just a great movie maker, but an awesome rider as well. Renaissance man.
If any of you have been to Whstler in the last 3 years, the biggest change that you will have noticed is the huge momentum that the womens riding scene has. Looking around in the liftline provides all of the necessary reinforcement needed. At the forefront of women’s riding is Stephanie Nychka. She is one of the women responsible for Women’s Worx and as you can see by the photo below, she ride’s it like she stole it. I saw guys intimidated so much by this stepdown that they didn’t ride it. Stephanie killed this course. Great to see.
Stephanie Nychka was the only female competitor. Awesome to see her ripping the course with the guys.
From the start there were a number of the usual suspects that I had envisioned making it to the final but through injury and gear malfunctions the final group was not what I expected. The final group looked like this:
Left to Right: Ross McMaster, Casey Groves, Logan Peat, Jordie Lunn, Graham Agassiz, Kelly McGarry, Ben Glassen and Brad Fisher
As would be expected in the finals there were some burly moves thrown down. Ross McMaster was going large but suffered a few falls at the end of the course to squash his hopes of winning. Young Gun Logan Peat has been making a name for himself recently but just couldn’t put everything together. 2007 AirPrentice competitor Ben Glassen was riding well but fell short of the big tricks thrown down by the top three. Jordie Lunn had a big crash in the Practice round and rang his bell, but being the guy that he is came to ride in the comp anyway. He threw down but it just wasn’t enough.
Jordie “Big Pimpin’” Lunn. Always comes with his A Game.
At the end of the day three riders stood in the foregound. In third place riding extremely well recently was Graham Agassiz. This kid has been killing it. He was smooth and rowdy. This kid has big mountain skills and slopestyle style. Watch out for him.
Finishing Third. Graham Agassiz three’s the satelite well above Skier’s plaza.
I was impressed by the second place finisher when I first saw him at Jordies Jump Jam. Kelly McGarry is a Kiwi misplaced in Whistler. He rides with confidence and power. He was the only guy out there on a big bike as well. Kelly 360′d everything in sight including the stepdown at the end of the course. Burly move for sure.
Kelly McGarry three’s the big rig off the first double to take home 2nd place.
At the end of the day, just like the Highlander movie, there can be only one. Casey Groves left no doubt. Period. He rode hard throughout the qualifier (Superman on the Stepdown), and simply killed the Finals. He ended his run with a stomped 360 off the stepdown followed by another off the satelite. He knew he had won it and was pumped. No rider deserved it more.
I’ll leave you with a few images from Caseys runs.
In qualifying Casey Supermaned the stepdown. Not clicked, but Come on. R O W D Y
Three to punctuate it.
Casey takes the win and a spot in Crankworx 2008
As always nothing like this ever happens without a dumpload of work on a bunch of people’s part. This man is the ringleader. Seb Fremont is the director of events at Whistler and does his job better than anybody I have even known. In the background (and out of his office) is Jeremy Roche the GM of Crankworx another fine gentleman that hangs it all out there for our sport.
Thanks guys for all the hard work…And really Jeremy, that Pitcher should be filled with Beer, not draw prize tickets.
BONEYARD AIR AFFAIR FINALS
- Casey Groves
- Kelly McGarry
- Graham Agassiz
- Ross McMaster
- Mitch Chubey
- Jordie Lunn
- Stephanie Nychka
- Casey Groves
- Logan Peat
- Ben Glassen
Grom (13-15 yrs)
- Brennan Walstrom
- Colin Westeindre
- Jess D. Findlay
Anything to say about the Air Affair comp or something else eating at your gut? Tell us what you think here.