Words by Brice Minnigh
Photos by Anthony Smith
The third-annual Crankworx Official Whip-Off World Championships again proved to be one of the mountain-bike festival’s most crowd-pleasing contests, with several hundred spectators ditching their bikes to watch the event’s biggest-ever field of riders get sideways on Whistler Bike Park’s massive Crabapple Hits.
The intermittent bursts of drizzle didn’t deter the rowdy throng of spectators from bunching up alongside the jumps to cheer (and jeer) the riders as they soared sideways through the air, often whipping their bikes within centimeters of the fans. More than 100 riders joined in for the laid-back contest, dropping in trains that were so tight it made it difficult——if not downright impossible——for the judges to see every move.
With fans running across the course and leaning way over the tape to photograph and film the action, most of the competition was chaos incarnate, with the small crew of safety officials tapped in their ability to control the crowd. Still, the unpolished nature of the contest added to its appeal, and there were no serious injuries.
The small panel of judges——the event’s creator, Sven Martin, along with Duncan Riffle and Cam Zink——found it difficult to judge, given the tight spacing of the trains. Eventually, Martin started pulling riders off, one by one.
“You’re out,” he yelled at one after another as he stood in the middle of the final jump. “Armband off!”
After well over a dozen runs, the judges narrowed the field down to seven male riders, each of whom was judged based on the size and steeze of his final whip. In the end, Brazilian Bernardo Cruz went the most sideways to reclaim his Whip-Off World title. Cruz won the inaugural Whip-Off Worlds, which started out as an unofficial event, in the 2011 Crankworx.
Honorable mentions went out to Kurt Sorge and Thomas Vanderham, both of whom went ridiculously high on their final whips.
Of the three women riders, Casey Brown came out victorious, while Lorraine Blancher claimed the honorable mention.