The action kicked off on Wednesday evening with the always popular European Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank. A massive jump high up in the alpine provided riders plenty of air time to get as sideways as possible.
Eliot Jackson, getting sideways. 📸@maddogboris
Racing began in earnest on Thursday with the 100% Dual Slalom. The course was short and technical with perfectly sculpted rollers and berms at the top followed by flat grass turns at the bottom. Finding the balance of speed and grip proved crucial to victory, as it was easy to overcook the grass section and slide out.
In the Pro Men’s field, American youngster Matthew Sterling (Pivot Cycles Devo Team) shocked everyone by knocking out big name after big name on his way to the top step of the podium. Canadian Vaea Verbeeck (Rocky Mountain) started her week off right by taking first in the Pro Women’s field followed by Kialani Hines (Pivot/TLD/Maxxis) in second.
Sterling rages through the last berm into the grass.📸@maddogboris
Verbeeck and Hines in the final. 📸@maddogboris
Your 2019 Dual Slalom winners! 📸@maddogboris
The RockShox Pump Track Challenge took place under the lights on Thursday night in front of a massive and raucous crowd. Kialani Hines – who also won the pump track event at Crankworx Rotorua – was on fire, riding smooth and fast through the long and technical course. Frenchman Adrien Loron is always a podium threat in pump track, and things were no different in Innsbruck. Loron ripped through the course, gapping features no other riders attempted on his way to first place.
Hines eyes up and elbows out. 📸@maddogboris
Close action on the pump track. 📸@maddogboris
Hines and Loron post-victory celebration. 📸@maddogboris
Speed & Style presented by Mons Royale was the name of the game on Friday evening. In this unique event format, riders must combine their dual slalom skills with tricks in order to advance through the rounds. It’s not enough to simply be fast, as time is deducted for each trick a rider successfully lands. The bigger the trick, the bigger the time deduction.
The slopestyle competition was originally scheduled for Saturday evening, but with rain in the forecast, organizers decided to move the competition to earlier in the day. The rain held out, but steady, strong winds caused delay after delay until the decision was made to postpone the event until Sunday.
The final day of Crankworx Innsbruck was packed with action with two major events on the schedule: the iXS Downhill and the slopestyle competition. Racers were loving the freshly-cut track, built specifically for the festival. The raw and rooty course was made all the more difficult by heavy overnight rains. Two Maxxis riders made the Pro Men’s podium – Ed Masters of Pivot Factory Racing took second place a mere 0.11 seconds behind the winner, followed by Dean Lucas (Scott DH Factory) in third place.
Masters on line and off camber. 📸@maddogboris
Lucas just out of the start gate. 📸@maddogboris
Vaea Verbeeck didn’t quite make the podium in fifth place, but her strong result added to her lead in the Queen of Crankworx competition.
Verbeeck on course, solidifying her status in the chase for Queen of Crankworx. 📸@maddogboris
While the rain had stopped by Sunday morning, dark clouds loomed over the venue, putting in doubt whether or not the slopestyle competition would happen. Thankfully, the weather held, the wind was fairly calm, and all the competitors were able to get in a solid practice session before finals.
The Polish rider David Godziek received a wild card invitation to the event and was the first to drop in. His run set the tone for the afternoon with massive tricks, combinations, and style. Godziek’s second run was even wilder and secured his third place finish.
Godziek whipping into third. 📸@maddogboris
Emil Johannson – who crashed out of the Maxxis Slopestyle in Rotorua – had difficulties on his first run. The course was running slightly slower than it had been all week, and Johannson cased the first long and low jump. Luckily, Emil was able to ride away unscathed, but the pressure was on for run number two. Meanwhile, fellow Trek and Maxxis teammate Brett Rheeder threw down a near-flawless first run to move into first place well ahead of the field. As rider after rider came down the course, no one threatened Rheeder’s score of 92 - that was, until Johansson’s second run. Emil nailed combo after combo on his way to a 95.
Johansson's first run, pre-crash. 📸@maddogboris
Rheeder corked on run one. 📸@maddogboris
Johansson three-sixty tail-whips the step down on run two. 📸@maddogboris
Now the pressure was on Rheeder to up his already impressive first run. Like a true champion, Brett pushed the envelope even further and was able to edge out Emil for first place by just 0.5 points. In the end, Maxxis riders swept the podium with David Godziek in third, Emil Johansson in second, and Brett Rheeder in first.
Rheeder with his bar spin variation of a three-sixty on the step down. 📸@maddogboris
Rheeder, Johansson, Godziak. 📸@maddogboris
Tricks corked, champagne uncorked. 📸@maddogboris
Rheeders winning steed. 📸@maddogboris
Combined with his win in Rotorua, Brett Rheeder has the opportunity to win the Crankworx Triple Crown if he’s able to take the top step in Whistler later this summer.