Crankworx Whistler Recap

December 28, 2016
Comments off

Crankworx Whistler Recap

Mountain biking’s ultimate summer festival

crankwrx-race-01Second time around: Specialized rider Finn Iles won the Whip-Off World Championship for his second time at this year’s Crankworx festival. He’d won it previously in 2014 when he was still 14, a few days before his 15th birthday. This time the event came after his birthday, so he was all of 17 this time.

Whistler’s annual Crankworx festival might well be the largest gathering of mountain bike riders in the world. With roots dating back to 1998, when the seminal Whistler International Classic Mountain Bike Festival opened the park, the annual Crankworx event has come to attract huge crowds of riders each summer to North America’s premier winter ski resort, which is also almost certainly the premier mountain biking resort in the world.

Situated high in the coastal mountain range of British Columbia, some two hours by car or shuttle from Vancouver International Airport, Whistler draws thousands of riders from all over the planet to ride over 50 of the most popular trails in the world in one of the most enjoyable summer climates you’ll find anywhere.



One of the things that makes Crankworx so remarkable is that the event was created more for riders than for spectators. The event lasts almost a week and a half spread across two weekends. What’s more, there are fun events every day, with everything from cross-country and downhill racing to dual-slalom, enduro and aerial trick competitions. There are even some goofy events, such as the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, where people chase huge cheese wheels down one of the mountain slopes. What’s nice is that most of the main events take place in the late afternoon, so mountain bikers who are visiting the park can ride for most of the day before finally settling down to watch the world’s best riders compete on the mountain. What’s more, for riders who would rather ride their own bikes than watch others, most of Whistler’s trails are open during the events. It’s a win-win for everybody involved.



While many popular mountain biking areas can be miserably hot in the summer, Whistler is an exception. Temperatures typically stay in the 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit) during the day and drop into the 60s at night. Even on the warmest days there are trails higher up the mountain where the weather is cooler. What’s more, most of the trails are tree-lined, keeping riders in the shade.

We could go on extolling the wonders of Whistler, but it’s easier to show you. Check out the next few pages to see what the biggest event in mountain biking looks like.


Finn Iles does it again

crankwrx-race-04Pep team: Local star Finn Iles had this group of girls from his high school cheering him on in the Whip-Off Championships.

Back in 2014 Whistler local Finn Iles stunned the mountain’s many visitors by throwing the wildest whips on the mountain to win the Whip-Off World Championships a few days before his 15th birthday. This year’s schedule put the Whip-Off contest a couple days after Finn’s birthday, so he was 17 this time. He’s still a phenom, and one we expect to be seeing for years to come, especially since his downhill racing times in the amateur ranks are right up there with the pros. Finn will likely be a major contender in the downhill ranks in a few more years.

crankwrx_race_leadSanta Cruz Teamwork: Allan Cooke leads Mitch Ropelato in the Whip-Off World Championships. Cooke would end third in this event, with Ropelato in sixth.

crankwrx-race-03Call her versatile: Besides being one of the top downhill racers at Crankworx, Trek’s Casey Brown won the women’s title in the Whip-Off World Championships.


1. Finn Iles, Canada
2. Thomas Vanderham, Canada
3. Allan Cooke, USA
4. Sam Blenkinsop, New Zealand
5. Alexandre Fayolle, France


1. Casey Brown, Canada
2. Lorraine Blancher, Canada
3. Jaime Hill, Canada
4. Emilie Siegenthaler, Switzerland
5. Jill Kintner, USA


Fast times on Whistler Mountain

crankwrx-race-13World Cup star: Troy Brosnan put his World Cup skills to good use in Whistler, winning the Canadian Open Downhill.

crankwrx-race-14The Hannah factor: Mick Hannah (here) has been one of the top stars at Crankworx for years. This time he took third in the Canadian Open Downhill. High-speed skills must run in the family; his sister, Tracey, picked up the win in the women’s division of the event.


Rising star: Canadian Bas Van Steenbergen, riding for Hyper Bikes, beat 125 fellow pros to win the Fox Air DH on A-Line, the most popular mountain bike trail in the world.

With over 50 lift-accessed trails on the mountain, it’s hard to imagine a better place to hold downhill races than Whistler. A variety of downhill and enduro races were held throughout the Crankworx festival, but the SRAM Canadian Open was one of the best. World Cup stars Troy Brosnan and Tracey Hannah took the honors here on one of the most challenging downhill courses on the mountain.

Pro Men

1. Troy Brosnan, Australia
2. Jack Moir, Australia
3. Mick Hannah, Australia
4. Marcelo Gutierrez, Colombia
5. Bernard Kerr, GBR

Pro Women

1. Tracey Hannah, Australia
2. Manon Carpenter, GBR
3. Vaea Verbeeck, Canada
4. Casey Brown, Canada
5. George Astle, Canada


Jill does it again

crankwrx-race-06Air time: Commencal’s Remy Mettailer takes flight in the Fox Air DH race.

While legends come and go in the gravity ranks, one legend continues to reign supreme in the Whistler pantheon of top riders—Jill Kintner. While Bas Van Steenbergen took the place of the late Stevie Smith at the top of the men’s A-Line downhill rankings here, Jill Kintner continued her reign in the women’s category.

In a moving gesture to honor the passing of Stevie Smith, who had won the event the past three years, the late downhill star’s memory was honored all weekend with signs proclaiming, “Long live the Chainsaw” (the late star’s nickname).

Pro Men

1. Bas Van Steenbergen, Canada
2. Harry Heath, GBR
3. Mick Hannah, Australia

Pro Women

1. Jill Kintner, USA
2. Tracey Hannah, Australia
3. Vaea Verbeeck, Canada


Ropelato takes on Loron

crankwrx-race-07Rider down: Despite racing with the chains completely removed from their bikes, the racers in the Ultimate Pump-Track Challenge looked like they were still flying down the course at speeds of close to 30 miles per hour.

Mitch Ropelato returned to his winning ways this year at Whistler, smoking Adrien Loron and everyone else in this year’s Ultimate Pump-Track Challenge, held on a new course on Blackcomb Mountain, adjacent to Whistler’s main slopes. As expected, Jill Kintner dominated, with Anneke Beerten taking second. There’s a reason why they give Jill the “Queen of Crankworx” title every year.

crankwrx-race-08Showdown: Mitch Ropelato (left) beat Adrien Loron (right) in the finals of Whistler’s Ultimate Pump-Track Challenge. Even so, Loron would come away with the year-end title for the three-round Crankworx series once his results from Rotorua and Les Gets were added.

Pro Men

1. Mitch Ropelato, USA
2. Adrien Loron, France
3. Tomas Lemoine, France
4. Tomas Slavik, Czech Republic

Pro Women

1. Jill Kintner, USA
2. Anneke Beerten, Netherlands
3. Manon Carpenter, GBR


Slavik and Kintner rule supreme

crankwrx-race-09Stellar pair: Jill Kintner (301) held Anneke Beerten (right) to second place in the Giant Dual Slalom final. Jill won the Pump-Track Challenge, too, with Anneke taking second there as well.

Slalom riders brought their bike-handling skills to a new racecourse this year, one built closer to Whistler Village so the race could be seen by people at the base of the bike park. It seemed like a good move, as the event was definitely more spectator-friendly.

As for the racers, Jill Kintner has won this event so many times that it would be a surprise if she didn’t win. Still, Anneke Beerten gave Jill some tough competition this year. As for the men’s race, Tomas Slavik and Bernard Kerr engaged in a spirited battle, but Slavik could not be beaten.

crankwrx-race-11Finals time: Great Britain’s Bernard Kerr of Pivot had the lead here over Tomas Slavik in the Giant Dual Slalom finals, but Slavik would come out the winner in the end.

One of the early victims of Slavik’s high-speed racing was Joey Foresta, the young GT racer profiled elsewhere in this issue. Joey would start his second year of high school a couple days later and celebrate his 15th birth- day the following week. In spite of his youth, Joey beat World Cup downhill star Marcelo Gutierrez in the first round of racing before losing to Slavik in the second round. Joey lost by a mere 0.5 seconds in their first match-up and 0.41 seconds in their second match-up. Very impressive for a kid who was still 14.


1. Tomas Slavik, Czech Republic
2. Bernard Kerr, GBR
3. Bas Van Steenbergen, Canada
4. Walker Shaw, USA


1. Jill Kintner, USA
2. Anneke Beerten, Netherlands
3. Emilie Siegenthaler, Switzerland
4. Leigh Donovan, USA


Brett Rheeder smokes the competition

crankwrx-race-15Dreams of flying: Brett Rheeder takes flight on his way to the win of the Red Bull Joyride competition on the final day of the event. Photo: Jussi Grznar/Red Bull Content Pool

For 2016 the Joyride competition was moved to the final Sunday morning of Crankworx Whistler. While the weather looked rather threatening—with gray clouds, gusty winds and even a few drops of rain—the show went on, and it was a dilly. The expected challenge by multi-time Joyride champion Brandon Semenuk failed to materialize, as the Whistler legend crashed in both his runs. With Brandon out of the running, Brett Rheeder took the Joyride title, along with $25,000 in prize money.

crankwrx-race-22Don’t try this at home: Bret Rheeder does a barspin, a backflip and a tailwhip before coming back down. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool




1. Brett Rheeder, Canada, 93.00
2. Thomas Genon, Belgium, 91.20
3. Max Fredriksson, Sweden, 89.80
4. Emil Johansson, Sweden, 85.20
5. Logan Peat, Canada, 83.00
6. Anthony Messere, Canada, 81.60
7. Tomas Lemoine, France, 81.00
8. Mehdi Gani, France, 80.60


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.

Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Subscribe Here

Contact us via email at


Comments are closed.