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With Easter coming early this year, Crankworx Rotorua was pushed forward a couple of weeks, gaining better weather and track conditions for the duration of the festival. This combined with later-in-the-day event timing, allowed many more spectators to rock up after work and catch all the action.


The Giant TOA Enduro kicked things off on Wednesday, the field was stacked with Kiwis, and as expected, they dominated the podium, grabbing 6 of the top 7 spots. Taking 3 stage wins, 2 seconds, and a 6th, Matt Walker wound up claiming the win by 25 seconds over fellow Kiwi, Eddie Masters, setting up his attack on the King of Crankworx title.




Wednesday evening was free for locals again this year, so a massive crowd turned out to check out the Whip-Off. Changes had been made by the Empire of Dirt crew, so this year, there was a serious sized step-down, leading into a big gap jump consisting of 2 hips, and 1 straight line.

The straight line seamed to be the favourite, and with plenty of hang time, there were a few flips and other tricks thrown in the mix, keeping the crowd entertained. With everyone back on solid ground, it was R-Dog Ryan Howard on top again this year, followed by Tyler McCaul, Blenki, and Brannigan.



Blenki, Wyn, and Brook dropped by to sign posters for the kids.


Thursday was Mons Royale Dual Speed and Style time, and for the first time the women had a crack at the course. Jill Kintners’ BMX background served her well, she was too quick for Casey Brown and took the inaugural women’s Speed and Style title. In the men’s race there was a bit of controversy when Adrien Loron was disqualified for a false start in his semi-final. He argued that other riders had punched the gate earlier in the competition without penalty, and was allowed to line up against Greg Watts in the small final. Loron proved too good for Watts, taking the 3rd place.




The men’s big final really showed what this event is all about, it was Speed vs Style, with Tomas Slavik racing like it was a Dual Slalom event, and Kyle Strait pulling out the freestyle tricks. Thrilling the crowd with a backflip barspin and a double tailwhip, Strait couldn’t muster enough points to make up the time deficit to Slavik, who was savagely quick, and took the win.


Last year it was Keegan Wright making a name for himself at the Pumptrack Challenge, going all the way to second place. Unfortunately he was carrying an injury this year, and visibly struggled on the night, sporting wrist braces from a big crash prior to Crankworx, he still managed to make the top 16.
This year, another young local stepped up to give the seasoned Pro’s a scare. Connor Mahuika had only just turned 16, and was about to have the night of his life. He had wanted to compete in the Speed and Style on Thursday, but left disappointed after failing to qualify.
Come Friday night though, the young fella got to show the world what he can do, taking out Tom Scherer, Phil Atwill, and Barry Nobles before losing out to eventual winner Tomas Lemoine. That set up an all Kiwi show down in the small final, with Matt Walker beating Mahuika to 3rd place, and taking another step towards being crowned King.




The Slopestyle on Saturday arvo was huge, all the riders turned it on and pulled out the big tricks in honour of McGazza. The Tribute Mega-Train was lead out by Kelly’s business partner, Tom Hey, he was followed by 29 other riders, all friends of the Hair Farmer. The boys made a circle at the bottom of the course that Kelly and Tom built, and shared stories about the big man. It was an emotional time for many, and it is still hard to believe the larger than life character is no longer with us, he was such a star and the world is worse off for his passing.




The competition proper then got underway, with some massive new tricks being seen for the first time. Nikolai Rogatkin defied physics with his 1080 twister, and Semenuk’s Cork 720 barspin left everyone wondering just how much higher the bar can be set. Brett Rheeder took 3rd spot on the podium with a notable flip opposite-whip from the starting step down. Rogatkin was gunning for the win, and came close, stomping his 1080 and exploding his rear tyre on the landing of the final feature. 2nd place was the end result. Semenuk’s first run proved too good, rounding out his trophy cabinet, with his fourth Crankworx Slopestyle gold, he has now won at all 3 locations.


Conor usd


The Downhill on Sunday would need to put on a spectacle after the madness on Saturday, and didn’t disappoint. The Kiwi boys were out to dominate their local race, with Brannigan, MacDonald, Blenkinsop and Walker on top of the standings, it was looking like it would be an all Kiwi whitewash. That was until Loic Bruni came thundering down the track and put over 2 seconds into George’s time to take the hot seat. The World Champion proved too good for the field and claimed the win for the second year in a row.


When all the points were toted up, Matt Walker achieved his aim for the week, taking the lead in the King of Crankworx standings, after winning the Enduro, grabbing 3rd at the Pumptrack Challenge, and 5th in the DH. He’ll be looking to keep the momentum going at Les Gets in June.


By all accounts, Crankworx Rotorua was a massive success again this year, so get your leave sorted for March 2017, it’s going to go off!



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