By Eddie Clark
(July 28 and 29, 2011) WINTER PARK, Colo.—The fifth annual Crankworx Colorado festival got underway with a long list of prestigious athletes pursuing a cash purse totaling over $36,000 dollars. In the spirit of being held at the fastest growing bike park in North America, Trestle Park trail crew added new difficult downhill runs, and also changed up the slopestyle course to give athletes new and improved venues for competition.
Kicking off the festivities first were the dual slalom racers with their seeding runs on Thursday morning. For 2011, the dual slalom course was changed significantly, and featured a high-side berm that lead into a punishing bump section which then lead into a whoop section that set riders up for a finish line table top jump.
Brian Buell of Team Geronimo/Banshee showed an impressive turn of speed to edge out the winningest US mountain bike racer, Brian Lopes, in the first run of the finals. However, in their second finals run, Lopes laid down the horse power with some supreme bike handling skills to win the second heat with enough of a margin over Buell to take the overall dual slalom win. Pro women’s dual slalom racing was won handily by former national champion Melissa Buhl.
Immediately after the dual slalom racing finished, the downhill racers were next on deck with the chainless downhill race. In the chainless race, racers had about 30 yards to run their bike up to speed before hopping aboard to jump the first step-down jump that sent them down the Trestle downhill trail. French national champion and long-time World Cup contender, Mickael Pascal put on a skills clinic to take his first victory of the festival. The pro women’s race was dominated by Jacqueline Harmony who opted out of the dual slalom racing earlier in the day, which paid off in spades.
Friday’s events started with the new Air Downhill Race which tested racers ability to flow and build speed while making their way down a course with more jumps and berms than you can shake a stick at. The new event utilized the new Rainmaker downhill trail which was modeled after the A-Line run at the Whistler Bike Park in Canada. Once again, Brian Lopes took the top step in an event that he has historically dominated. Jacqueline Harmony also set the pace in the pro women’s race to score her second win in just as many days.
Also on tap for Friday was the Slopestyle qualifiers which saw nearly 40 riders drop in for a two run shot at making the finals on Saturday. To maximize the trick progression and entertainment value, course designers radically changed up the course used in previous years. Most noticeable was the smaller entry drop-in which led riders to progressively bigger features as they got further down the course. In a show of what was to come, Cam McCaul qualified in first place with a solid top-to-bottom run filled with some of the most difficult tricks in slopestyle.