Crazy Tricks, Huge Air and a Dactyl at Crankworx Colorado 2009

Crankworx Colorado—which took place at Winter Park, CO on July 30th through August 2nd, 2009—was a huge success for the third year in a row. The foremost gravity riders in mountain biking got together once again for a massive Slopestyle throw-down. What a spectacle! The weekend kicked off to a dreary start with rain all day Thursday and most of Friday. As a result, Best Trick and Slopestyle qualifiers were delayed until Saturday, the day of the Slopestyle finals. Moving qualifying to Saturday was great for spectators who had to work during the week but for the athletes it meant less time practicing on the course and more pressure at go-time. I have been known to complain about my job from time to time but what these folks do is ridiculous.

The format for Crankworx Colorado is simple: each rider is allowed unlimited practice on the course, followed by two qualifying runs, the better of which can win them a spot in the finals. Once in the final round, the riders are allowed two more runs to get a spot on the podium.

The course for 2009, which was designed by John Cowan and the team at Gravity Logic, was, in my opinion, even more creative and intimidating than last year. The athletes began their run on an almost completely vertical natural rock roll-in that was used in 2007 and 2008. In the past the rock-roller has spit the riders straight down a roller coaster skinny into a lip that sends them over a road gap. The drop distance here is easily twenty feet down. This year the skinny was a banked corkscrew leading into the drop. This made the run-in more challenging but it also provided an opportunity for the contestants to scrub speed before the drop, allowing them to square-up and prepare to trick off the road gap.

banked roll in

Upon landing the road gap, riders went head-long into the stunts. I witnessed back flips, no-cans, tailwhips, suicide no-handers and every combination in between. I believe that the four jumps at the bottom of the course provided the most entertainment for the crowd as well as the best opportunity to show off one’s freestyle ability.


After Thursday and Friday’s rains had subsided, the Slopestyle course was in primo condition – not too dry and not too wet…hero dirt. This tacky dirt between man-made features benefited the competitors although not completely without major accidents. During one of his runs, Alex Prochazkav, (Alex Pro) from Whistler, BC sustained a serious injury (I am told it was a broken femur).

One of the highlights at this year’s competition was the addition of the “Dactyl Cam,” a remotely controlled HD camera on an automated zipline that spanned the entire course from top to bottom. I am anxious to see the footage from this contraption—I also like the name—Dactyl…Ba-caw! Brad Ewen and Kyle Ebbett were the announcers just as they were last year, although this time they were joined by modern freeride legend, Cam McCaul.

wall ride

At the end of a long weekend, Crankworx Colorado was a huge success. I am also extremely impressed with the newly cut trails at Winter Park’s Trestle Bike Park. I lapped the new jump trail all day on Sunday and it was so flowy that I would liken it to a DH pump track. The riders have all gone on to prepare for Whistler Crankworx, the granddaddy event which will take place this coming weekend, August 6th – 9th in Whistler, BC. It was sad to leave Winter Park at the end of such a fun weekend—I sure could get used to being a Gonzo Journalist. For more info on Crankworx Colorado, click here.


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