Riders from all disciplines of mountain biking descend upon Crankworx to compete in separate events. Never before have they competed head to head in one event designed to flush out the all-round best rider. Enter the Dual Speed and Style, presented by AVID. Quest for the ultimate All-Star.
Could it be one of the superhuman Athertons, a slalom and pump track champ like Mitch Ropelato, or trick specialists like Cam and Tyler McCaul? Lightning-fast racers with BMX backgrounds like Aaron Owin or Brian Lopes (if someone can convince him) could also hold their own in the head-to-head battle.
Kyle Strait is a favourite to win the inaugural Dual Speed and Style, presented by AVID. After all, his wildly entertaining Dual Slalom run in 2011 was the inspiration for the event. Strait had been vying for the bronze medal when his competitor crashed. Instead of coasting to the finish, he tricked his way down the course, leaving Crankworx organizer with a great event concept.
An evolution of Dual Slalom, the Dual Speed and Style, presented by AVID combines speed and bike handling with the creativity and tricking of freeride mountain biking. Points are allotted for time and tricks are judged.
“It’s really a spectator-friendly event. People love racing and they love being able to see head-to-head races,” says Strait. “It’s going to be cool because it shows how fast each rider can go, but they still have the time and effort to put in the tricks.”
Legendary rider Kirt Voreis is helping design the course and competing in the event. This would technically make him more prepared than any other competitor. “I want to keep the course true to bump skiing because that’s where I’m getting the idea from,” says Voreis, who has a freeride, BMX, Dual Slalom and racing background. “With (mogul) skiing, you come out of the gate and you start hitting the bumps, hitting the rhythm ‘left, right, left right’.”
The twin tracks will zig-zag from the start with a series of sewing machine-like hard and fast turns. Tight corners and speed will challenge riders as they set up for tricks. The curse, designed with a smaller bike in mind, will include a hip section and a super booter at the bottom for riders to do a grand finale trick.
“The Kyle Straits of the world who excel at slopestyle and racing have a really good chance of doing better than someone who’s strictly a dirt jump kid” says Whistler Mountain Bike Park manager Brian Finestone, who will be overseeing the course build.
For Strait—who competes in Sea Otter’s speed and style event— the competitor with the best endurance will win. It’s one thing to trick after you’ve had time to set up, but quite another when you’re out of breath and rushing to beat the guy next to you.
Tyler McCaul is a slopestyle rider who competes in Downhill and Dual Slalom. He says strategy will play a major factor for the freeride athletes. “On the trick side you just have to do stuff that you’re comfortable with because if you bobble a little bit it’s obviously going to hurt your time. But you still have to do stuff that’s going to beat the guy next to you, so it’ll be kind of a mind game.”
Voreis has his own plan for the trick specialists: “I’m going to push them in the corners so hopefully I can get a crash out of them.”
Mitch Ropelato, who has been a powerhouse in the Giant Slalom and Pump Track events over the last two years, is stronger on the speed side: “I’d do smaller tricks and just try to make the look good instead of doing a massive trick that takes a lot of concentration.”
With such a stacked deck of athletes, the Dual Speed and Style presented by AVID could be anyone’s game. And the beauty is, there’s no playbook – only creativity and a heck of a good show for the fans. This is the true essence of what Crankworx is all about.
Dual Speed and Slalom presented by AVID will be one of the most anticipated events of Crankworx 2012. “That’s what’s really cool with Crankworx,” says Voreis. “A lot of the events are original and set the standard and create the pattern for what’s to come.”
PUBLICATION: Crankworx program guide
Photo: Scott Robarts, Crankworx