Volcanic mountains

SunLive – Kiwis embrace rain and volcanic mud at Crankworx

There was something special about the volcanic mud at Skyline on Friday with five Kiwis on the podium for RockShox Rotorua Downhill.

Friday’s event can only be described as a wet and wild slide and slide of epic proportions – the muddiest run of a Crankworx Downhill event.

Cheeky muddy faces, rain dances and wellington boots were all in with lots of rain, a slippery trail and 100% chance of surprises with so many chances for things to go wrong.

Crankworx Rotorua has received funding from the New Zealand Major Events Fund of $5.1 million to be used between 2022 and 2027.

Minister Stuart Nash, Minister for Economic and Regional Development braved the wild weather on Friday to see Crankworx in full swing.

“Crankworx Rotorua lets you watch the best drivers in the world. You have kids doing this – the future of the sport, professional men and women and every skill level in between,” Nash says.

“That’s what makes Crankworx Rotorua so special. It’s not just about lone riders, it’s an event and a spectator experience. When you’re here experiencing it, it’s magic, it’s ‘is great.

“Come on, there’s another Crankworx event here in March – book it for 2023”.

Louise Fergusson. Photo: Jay French.

RockShox Rotorua Downhill brings together the world’s racing elite to take on the Mount Ngongotaha track. The track features a mix of dirt and off-camber Rotorua with steps, bridge drops and a rock garden.

Crankworx Rotorua took off in March 2015, becoming the first festival outside of North America and Europe. Since then, it has hosted some of the most memorable moments in Crankworx history and is now referred to as the “Soul of Crankworx” due to its unique ability to combine riding with culture. This year, Crankworx Rotorua will once again be the final stop on the World Tour, celebrating the champions of the season, including the crowning of the King and Queen of Crankworx.

This year also saw the unplanned addition of the Rowdy Puddle, where children lined up to be washed down with a twin spray overhead by riders as they rode past. All the fans needed to have a good time was mud and a puddle.

Crankworx fans. Photo: Clint Trahan.

It was a complete sweep of the Kiwi podium for the men’s elite final. Sam Blenkinsop followed up his victory at the Taniwha downhill last weekend by taking gold in Friday’s event. Brook Macdonald, another Kiwi and World Cup winner, held the hot seat for most of the round, but it wasn’t enough as Blinky kept it smooth and fast, smashing Macdonald’s time by 7 .8 seconds.

“It started off going backwards, but I survived,” Sam says. “That’s what I wanted to do, I was pretty scared in a lot of places. It’s a little wet so you’ll slide and probably not break anything so I left it I thought it was going to be really hard to beat Brook because he went down earlier and the trail probably wasn’t that bad.

“It was good to see all the spectators up there in the mud, where I almost lost it there, but it was fun; I loved it,” Sam says.

It was the high and confident feet of Queenstown enduro specialist Matt Walker to complete the Kiwi sweep. Walker scored a podium at the Enduro World Championships this year, and it’s his first Crankworx podium since 2020.

Mother Nature didn’t let go for the women’s finals with pouring rain, wind and soft slopes, but the Kiwi women know how to handle their homeland. Louise Ferguson gave a masterclass in wet weather driving and took the opportunity to knock local legend Jenna Hastings out of the hot seat. Hastings suffered a crash during the classification which hurt her shoulder, but that didn’t stop her from winning silver, making it her third trip to the podium this week.

“Trying to race in conditions like this is like you’re not even trying to race anymore. Just go to the bottom, try and stay, go as fast as you can, but you can’t really Lou went really fast, but I think personally I just wanted to get to the bottom,” Louise said.

“I remember when I was a kid like these kids here, taking every opportunity to get in there and get drenched by these pros, and make the most of it.”

Caitlin Flavell was nine years old when she started attending Crankworx in Rotorua with her father, competing at Kidsworx, she is now 17 and competes on the World Tour. Flavell took more risks on the track today than the other ladies and did light work on the course with a total of four falls to slip and slide into bronze to join Hastings on the podium.

Deep Summer winner Rachel Hadfield. Photo: Clint Trahan.

The race may be over for the day, but the competition continued with the iconic Deep Summer Rotorua photo showdown. Five talented mountain bike and adventure photographers had three days in Rotorua to capture some of the best elements of mountain bike culture by putting together an epic slideshow to showcase at the event. Deep Summer provides a great opportunity for photographers to showcase their work on the world stage.

Friday’s action really impacted the overall standings of the King and Queen of Crankworx. Bas van Steenbergen didn’t win the downhill on Friday but he’s still in the lead right now. van Steenbergen still holds a 127-point lead over Jackson Frew, with Jackson Frew eliminating Tomas Lemoine from the top three by 74 points. The Queen of Crankworx standings are head-to-head with Caroline Buchanan and Jordy Scott tied for first with just 54 points separating the two ladies from Vaea Verbeeck. It will be a tight race for the crown with just two more events on the circuit this year.

Current ranking: crankworx.com/results/series/2022-king-queen/

Results – Specialized Dual Slalom

  1. Sam Blenkinsop (NZL) // Louise Ferguson (GBR)
  2. Brook Macdonald (NZL) // Jenna Hastings (NZL)
  3. Matt Walker (NZL) // Caitlin Flavell (NZL)

Full results: www.crankworx.com/results/

The action continues today as riders are put through their paces with CLIF Speed ​​and Style at Skyline Bike Park Rotorua. Watch all the action from home on Red Bull TV.