Day One of Crankworx Rotorua has come to a close with the Oceania Whip-Off Championships stirring a vocal Rotorua crowd into a bike-froth-fueled frenzy. The spirit of Kelly McGarry was alive and well as one of the most progressive whip-offs to ever entertain the masses quickly turned in to a big air expression session in a race to get as sideways as possible over the scrum of eager photogs fighting for position on the deck of Mount Whip.
Cover Photo: Conor Macfarlane leading the charge on the Dual Speed & Style course. All photos – Quentin Kenning
Competitors pushed the degrees to which a bike could be thrown sideways and then turned to backflip variations and 10 man trains on the monster new whip hit. The fired-up crowd, which had been steadily filtering through the Mons tent in the event village and all day, reached a peak as the 6.30pm finals kicked of under the last rays of a scorching Roto day. Judge, photographer, and original creator of the event, Sven Martin noted the purpose-built jump really pushed the riders and lead to some pretty amazing sideways action. The massive step-up, complete with two side hits, allowed competitors to maximise pop and really push the angles: “Every year it gets crazier and this was maybe the craziest year,” he said.
Sam Reynolds with the crowd fave backflip
The media scrum on the summit of Mount Whip
The night was eventually won by Ryan R-Dog Howard of the US and the the deepest female field yet seen in NZ was lead all night by a charging Casey Brown.
“A lot more women came out this year and we were sending it on this jump. That’s an intimidating jump for anyone. It makes me so excited to see that,” she said.
Casey and the whip that won her the title of Oceania Whip Champ
Casey had been leading the women’s pack on the Dual Speed & Style course in practice all day, being one of only 2 girls to hit the ramps on the final jump. Conor Macfarlane heaped praise on the work the Empire of Dirts boys have done on this year: “The berms are super railable this year… There’s a definite advantage to the inside line as the bottom slalom section is pretty slick,” but racers were looking lightening fast by the end of the session and tricks were being thrown down left right and centre on the final jump. Martin Söderström was looking silky smooth all day and will be one of the favourites to defend his Dual Speed & Style title when the event goes down this evening.
Harriet Latchem sending training on the Dual Speed & Style
Casey Brown comes out hot in the bottom slalom section of the course
Conor with the barspin backflip on the final jump
Earlier in the day Giant Toa Enduro champs were crowned after exhausted competitors finally rolled into the gravity park at the end of 7 stages of closely fought racing, and the slopestyle line was broken in by the top 20 FMB riders in the world.
Brett Rheeder warms up the slopestyle with a tailwhip on the canon
Anthony Messere sends a massive flatspin on the final jump of the slope course
Our first #speedorstyle winners were crowned in lightening fast time, with speed being an outstanding winner on the day. The first 4 prize tokens were brought into the Mons tent within 10 minutes of the clue being posted, and the lucky winners walked away with a Speed and Style tank, limited edition cap, and merino biking socks. Lisa Gibbons (@lisagibbons29) was our first style winner with her creative selfie taking with visiting pros holding her above the competition.
The pump track is looking primed for tomorrow night, with Mons central in pole spectating position.
Exhibitors and bike fans were treated to just a taste of the action to come in the days ahead, and vibes are high under the sunny skies of NZ’s biking capital.
If you are in Rotorua and at Crankworx make sure to stop by the Mons tent by the pump track to score yourself some bargains and come hang out with our crew.