Finally it is here! The first event of the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship will be held at Crankworx Rotorua this Saturday, March 24. The annual season kick-off of elite Slopestyle contests will see a reshaped course this year that will challenge the world's best Slopestyle athletes. You can see all the action from "Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza" LIVE on Red Bull TV on Saturday March 24th @ 12:00 pm NZDT, Friday March 23rd @ 4:00 pm PDT, Saturday March 24th @ 00:00 am CET. Leading up to the big day, the team from Elevate Trail Building, including Tom Hey, Emmerson Wilken and Scott Bedford, have been hard at work re-visioning and re-shaping the dirt that will set the stage.
Hey says it’s no easy feat given the hands of a legend helped lay the original foundation, and for the past three years the world’s best have sung its praises while launching off it to previously unimaginable heights. He says the re-worked course pays homage to its roots, while providing some fresh challenges.
“The start drop’s the same...it’s McGazza’s so we wouldn’t want to change that,” Hey explains. “The second feature is now a dirt-to-dirt shark fin which is a little more technical to trick. It’ll be a bit better for the guys that’ve got good flow, rather than just the huckers. Third feature, everyone loves that step-up so it’s going to stay the same. After that it used to be the boner log, but now it’s a big dirt-to-dirt hip, replacing the second jump. Hopefully that’ll make it flow through there better. We’ve put the boner back in after that, so after the dirt-to-dirt right it’s a left boner. And then the rest of the course is the same as it was.”
Past winners of the event include Brett Rheeder (CAN) in 2015, Brandon Semenuk (CAN) in 2016 and Nicholi Rogatkin (USA), who successfully landed his signature Twister for the first time in Crankworx competition in front of the Kiwi crowd in 2017.
Hey says the changes will keep things super trickable, but will mix it up a bit, requiring more technicality than the previous iteration of the course. Crankworx Rotorua Event Director Ariki Tibble says, it was time. “It’s not that we’re trying to improve things, it’s that we’re trying to move forward and it seemed like it was the right time. After three years...let’s turn a little bit of new dirt and start a new chapter, while keeping Kelly’s fingerprints on the overall course.”
In addition to taking on a new course, riders are taking on a new game. Earlier this year Crankworx and the Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) joined forces to create a singular elite-level series of Slopestyle mountain biking events. The Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship (SWC) now represents the pinnacle of the discipline of Slopestyle. Riders in Rotorua will be vying for points in the battle to be named this year's Slopestyle World Champion.
For news and highlights from the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship: crankworx.com
Keep up to date on all the latest from the FMB World Ranking: fmbworldtour.com
Get the latest on everything bike related on the Red Bull Bike channel: redbull.tv/bike
Photos by Fraser Britton