Pump Track Challenge Unchained

Ropelato and Kintner win the drag race of pump

This year’s Crankworx Whistler Pump Track Challenge was full of surprises, starting with a brand-new course in a new location at Base II of Blackcomb Mountain. Despite a walk and a gondola ride to the new venue, several hundred spectators made the jaunt for an action-packed evening on the straight, point-to-point rhythm track.

Adding to the excitement—and the technical challenge for riders—all competitors were required to race without a chain, forcing riders to truly pump through the track without relying on pedaling. This purist rule proved to be a true test of racers’ ability to use the terrain to maintain their momentum. Pump track master Mitch Ropelato seized the opportunity to re-assert his primacy in the pump track event, narrowly edging out Adrien Loron in a final heat that was so close the two competitors collided with each other in the finish corral.

Ropelato’s victory represents a comeback for the young American, who won the Crankworx Whistler Pump Track Challenge in 2011, 2012 and 2013. For Frenchman Loron, the strong second-place finish was enough for him to clinch the overall series championship for all three Crankworx events: Rotorua, Les Gets and Whistler.

American Jill Kintner won the women’s contest, sewing up the overall Crankworx Pump Track Challenge series championship and advancing her lead in the standings for the overall Queen of Crankworx title. Last year’s Queen of Crankworx, the Netherlands’ Anneke Beerten, claimed second in the event, while Britain’s Manon Carpenter took third.

Here are some photo highlights of the event:

This year's Crankworx Whistler Pumptrack Challenge featured an all-new course, a straight, point-to-point rhythm track at Blackcomb Mountain's Base II. Photo: Bruno Long

This year’s Crankworx Whistler Pumptrack Challenge featured an all-new course, a straight, point-to-point rhythm track at Blackcomb Mountain’s Base II. Photo: Bruno Long

For the first time, the Pumptrack Challenge was a chainless event, with all riders being required to remove their chains before the event. Here's a look at winner Mitch Ropelato's chain-free drivetrain. Photo: Anthony Smith

For the first time, the Pumptrack Challenge was a chainless event, with all riders being required to remove their chains before the event. Here’s a look at winner Mitch Ropelato’s chain-free drivetrain. Photo: Anthony Smith

Despite the fact that the new location on Blackcomb Mountain required a walk and a gondola ride for many spectators, the event drew a huge crowd—some of whom came with a quiver of chainsaws in commemoration of Stevie 'The Canadian Chainsaw' Smith. Photo: Anthony Smith

Despite the fact that the new location on Blackcomb Mountain required a walk and a gondola ride for many spectators, the event drew a huge crowd—some of whom came with a quiver of chainsaws in commemoration of Stevie ‘The Canadian Chainsaw’ Smith. Photo: Anthony Smith

As racers worked through the Round of 32, fans and photographers were treated to a sublime Blackcomb sunset.... Photo: Anthony Smith

As racers worked through the Round of 32, fans and photographers were treated to a sublime Blackcomb sunset…. Photo: Anthony Smith

...and the dust from the dry conditions only added to the evening's golden glow. Photo: Bruno Long

…and the dust from the dry conditions only added to the evening’s golden glow. Photo: Bruno Long

Many spectators were ending a day of riding in classic Canadian style. Photo: Bruno Long

Many spectators were ending a day of riding in classic Canadian style. Photo: Bruno Long

One of the biggest challengers for many racers was figuring out how to drop in to the course with no chain. But this didn't seem to be a problem for BMX standout Barry Nobles. Photo: Anthony Smith

One of the biggest challengers for many racers was figuring out how to drop in to the course with no chain. But this didn’t seem to be a problem for BMX standout Barry Nobles. Photo: Anthony Smith

The breakout star from last year's Crankworx, Dakotah Norton, gave his best effort, despite a shoulder injury. But it wasn't enough to get him through the Round of 16. Photo: Anthony Smith

The breakout star from last year’s Crankworx, Dakotah Norton, gave his best effort, despite a shoulder injury. But it wasn’t enough to get him through the Round of 16. Photo: Anthony Smith

For most of the heats, racers were neck-and-neck on the first half of the course, but after the split into the turns it was anyone's race. Photo: Bruno Long

For most of the heats, racers were neck-and-neck on the first half of the course, but after the split into the turns it was anyone’s race. Photo: Bruno Long

With ample lighting and a full moon out, the atmosphere was perfect for some pump-track excitement. Photo: Bruno Long

With ample lighting and a full moon out, the atmosphere was perfect for some pump-track excitement. Photo: Bruno Long

Per her usual custom, the Netherlands' Anneke Beerten had a steely focus that allowed her to give Jill Kintner a run for her money. Photo: Anthony Smith

Per her usual custom, the Netherlands’ Anneke Beerten had a steely focus that allowed her to give Jill Kintner a run for her money. Photo: Anthony Smith

With a full moon out, the fans were howling at the moon and throwing the horns. Photo: Bruno Long

With a full moon out, the fans were howling at the moon and throwing the horns. Photo: Bruno Long

A familiar sight throughout the evening was Ropelato advancing through the rounds. Photo: Bruno Long

A familiar sight throughout the evening was Ropelato advancing through the rounds. Photo: Bruno Long

Toward the end of the evening, Jill Kintner was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in her quest for the Queen of Crankworx title. Photo: Anthony Smith

Toward the end of the evening, Jill Kintner was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in her quest for the Queen of Crankworx title. Photo: Anthony Smith

The finish between Ropelato and Loron was so close they crashed into each other. Photo: Bruno Long

The finish between Ropelato and Loron was so close they crashed into each other. Photo: Bruno Long

Ropelato revels in his convincing comeback. Photo: Anthony Smith

Ropelato revels in his convincing comeback. Photo: Anthony Smith

God Save the Queen. Photo: Bruno Long

God Save the Queen. Photo: Bruno Long