Team Maverick Bikes scores Super D double, Kintner wins women's DH, and Waylon Smith takes men's DH win.
Race report and images by Eddie Clark
(July 30 and Aug 1, 2010) Winter Park, Colo—Racers and spectators were treated to a great weekend of racing during Crankworx Colorado at Winter Park Resort. The fourth annual Crankworx Colorado Freeride Mountain Bike Festival had no shortage of top gravity and slopestyle racers with a combined purse of over $35,000 up for grabs.
Trestle Bike Park, the fastest growing bike park in the United States, doubled its Jump Trail length for 2010 to provide a total of 33 miles of freeride trails. The new trail combined with some fine tuning of existing trails made for fun alternates to typical practice run repeats. To top it off, Winter Park even extended lift operations for the event until 7pm each day, which was a real bonus for racers competing in multiple events.
Intermittent storms mid-week dropped just enough rain to make for an incredibly fast and tacky Super D course by race day on Friday. Starting near the top of the Zephyr Express lift, Super D Racers had a mass start up a gentle hill before pointing it down on a somewhat pedally course. A longer than usual course with a flat mid section ensured heavy DH bikes were left in the pits. Most all racers that finished in the money opted for long travel trail bikes to negotiate the jumps and bumpy high speed sections.
To accommodate a larger field for the pro men, numbers were drawn to determine starting position, which was a benefit to some and bad luck for others. “I just put my head down and pedaled as hard as I could off the gun to get onto the trail first. I was on the limit or trying to recover throughout the whole race. There was just enough room in several sections that required you to sprint out of every turn to stay in the lead”, noted pro men’s winner Mike West of Maverick Bikes.
Pro women’s winner Jen Gersbach, also of Maverick Bikes, didn’t get the whole shot, but did give it all she had to stay on Jacqueline Harmony’s wheel through the top half of the race. Lower down Harmony slid out in a turn which opened the door for Gersbach to make a desperate pass which she narrowly held to the finish. “It was a real grinder, I was tasting blood at the bottom from the all out effort” noted an exhausted Gersbach.
To keep the spirits light and crowd entertained, Crankworx also featured a first ever Pond Skinny race, which had contestants riding across the base area pond over 6 inch wide planks that were supported by over inflated tubes. Anyone could enter for five bucks a try with up to five attempts for a shot at the $500 dollar prize. It was quite fun to watch as for once the smaller and lighter kids could actually beat their heros such as Darren Barrecloth across the pond with their light weight (heavier riders were certainly disadvantaged atop the floating bridge).
In addition to improved trails, Crankworx Colorado also got the downhill race included into the Pro Gravity Tour, which gave the event a UCI Category 2 rating. With UCI points, and big cash payouts up for grabs, the pro field was possibly the most talented DH field Winter Park has ever seen.
Amateurs and pros competed on the very same course, and had several days of ideal trail conditions to get familiar with the course. For the most part, the course was unchanged from the previous year, but did see minor improvements. Starting near the top of the Zephyr Express lift, racers plunged into tight, steep, rocky, and rooty singletrack that required full attention to ride cleanly. After finishing the Trestle Downhill trail, racers got onto The Boulevard trail which featured more open flat sections, and decent sized table top jumps before entering the finishing stretch to the base area.
A dry Sunday morning qualification saw the fastest time approaching the six minute mark. However, Mother Nature would throw everyone a curveball with storms that rolled in just as junior racers were finishing their runs. Bryson Martin Jr of Marzzochi Racing proved to be the fastest in the men’s 17-18 Men’s class with a time of 6:26:86.
Pro women took their starts next on a slightly wet, but not too muddy course as the rain continued to fall. Results were mostly unchanged from qualifying, and US National DH Champion Jill Kintner of Transition Bikes took top honors with Melissa Buhl closely behind, and Jacqueline Harmony finishing in third.
Saving the best for last, pro men started in a pouring rain which greatly favored early the early starters due to deteriorating course conditions. The fastest qualifiers had the disadvantage of starting last, which was difficult for those who preferred dry courses. In fact, it was the very first starter, Waylon Smith racing for Mongoose/Nema who posted the fastest time of the race to secure first place. “The flat I got in my qualifier was the best flat I’ve ever had”, noted a somewhat lucky and definitely happy Smith.
Riding on the smell of victory, Jason Memmelaar followed up his dual slalom win with a solid second place ride. Qualifying fastest was Logan Bingelli of Team KHS, which meant he would be the last racer to take the course. Displaying some awesome skills over the wet roots and rocks, Bingelli rode it all-out, and still mustered up a time good enough for third place. Kieran Bennett, and Brian Buell respectively rounded out the remaining podium steps for fourth and fifth place.
For complete results, please visit Crankworx Colorado.