Crankworx Rotorua wraps up with slopestyle spectacle, triple crown and incredible crowds


The world’s best freeride mountain bikers gathered for a display of elite aerobatics in the Maxxis Slopestyle in memory of McGazza. Not for the timid and only for guests, the athletes took to the skies, stunning the crowds and proving they could handle the brand new course with the final jump giving runners more range than ever at Crankworx Rotorua.

This final Slopestyle event of the Crankworx World Tour was quite unique compared to the other three events with weather-related delays causing a lack of practice time. The suspense had built up to this event like that of a pressure cooker and it felt like a burst of energy from the crowd and the riders as they were about to fall in the final.

One rider that most people were no doubt watching closely was Emil Johansson with the Triple Crown of Slopestyle on the line. Johansson has been working so hard over the past month after his crash at the Crankworx Cairns Slopestyle event. Johansson went through concussion protocol and rehabilitated very diligently to be cleared to return to the fight, and he did really well today.

“It’s actually the first event in a long time where I needed to calm down because we had been riding so much,” Johansson said of his experience in the finals. “I was really prepared and really pumped for the event. And that was so much at stake here. For me to be able to put everything I managed to put in and play at the level that I did, it’s surreal. Although on the surface we may seem calm, deep down we are truly prepared.

The crowd went wild to see Johansson come back from his concussion protocol in absolute cleanliness and technicality, spinning in opposite directions and tail whipping in all directions. Johansson’s win also earned him the 2022 Slopestyle Triple Crown for the second year in a row.

Timothe Bringer took second place with a score of 89.5, earning himself the silver medal for today’s Slopestyle event and also securing third place for the Slopestyle World Championship prize Crankworx FMBA.

Earlier today, the people of Rotorua were treated to a Crankworx favourite, the TREK Official New Zealand Whip Off Championships presented by POC. It’s been a great Whip Off season this year and today was no exception. The small but mighty group of runners persevered despite schedule changes and harsh weather conditions to put on a crazy show for the spectators. Local Kiwi legend Matt Begg maintained his top spot for the Crankworx Rotorua Whip Off, winning gold again today.

“Pretty happy,” Begg said of his win. “I was just having fun with my friends and I happened to go behind my friend Dave and then Allan, so I just had a good wind that made me go a little more sideways. I’m just happy for everyone that we all got to ride together. We obviously struggled with the rain this week so the course was a little tougher to ride but we made do with what we had and that’s what it’s all about.

And it’s the end of the Crankworx 2022 season. If Crankworx Rotorua, the final leg of the World Tour, could be described in a few sentences, it would be mud showers, rain showers and champagne showers. The atmosphere was electric on site with fans braving all weather conditions for the chance to rub shoulders with their icons. The riders took advantage of the turbulent conditions to put in one of the most impressive performances of skills, spills and thrills ever seen in Rotorua.

It takes the help of the whole community to build and organize an event of this magnitude. As a destination and as a community, Rotorua has made every effort, resource and effort to ensure this event runs smoothly, including the help of 325 volunteers and the support of 58 sponsor sites exhibition and food vendors within the festival. Crankworx Rotorua Event Director Ariki Tibble spoke last week about elite racing and the contribution of the Rotorua community.

“It’s been 20 months since we held the last large-scale Crankworx Rotorua event and it’s hard to find the words to express what it’s been like to have so many international manuhiri among us.”

“I think hosting visitors is part of our DNA, it brings out the best in us and we feel more whole when we do that.”

“Over the past few days, I have seen our athletes, volunteers, media, management, staff and suppliers give their best under exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

Volunteer Manager, Daniela Olphert spent the week with great people who passionately give their time to the sport and are the lifeblood of the event. “Volunteers show up every day with a smile on their face, rain or shine. They are like a big family – looking out for each other, the athletes, the spectators and everyone who attends the event. We are so grateful for the time volunteers have given and I have seen them this week give their all to ensure the mountain bike community does whatever it takes to deliver a ten out of ten event.”

Crankworx Rotorua saw over 80 media during the week, capturing trackside moments. Media were welcomed and hosted by RotoruaNZ at the Volcanic Hills Winery at the base of the event site for the week.

Haydn Marriner, Marketing Manager, RotoruaNZ “Welcoming the media for the first Aotearoa Mountain Bike Festival is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our unique manaakitanga as a destination. We have set up the media experience as a media marae, to better reflect who we are and what we are”.

Crankworx may be over for this year, but you don’t have to wait long for your mountain biking adrenaline rush. The Crankworx Summer Series kicks off with four prime locations from February 28 to March 12, 2023, with all roads leading into Rotorua for Crankworx in March 2023.

Crankworx Summer Series is the ultimate mountain bike road trip. We’re talking about a Crankworx-caliber competition with a popular vibe in four destinations around New Zealand’s South Island. The events will give local and up-and-coming riders a chance to race with national and international heroes, providing a path to potential Crankworx World Tour greatness and a real good time along the way.

“It has been amazing to reunite with Crankworx Rotorua and we look forward to resetting the schedule in March as we return to our original position as the first stop on the Crankworx World Tour for 2023,” said Tibble.

Events and places:

  • ENDURO – Alexandra, New Zealand – February 28 – March 1, 2023
  • DUAL SLALOM – Wanaka, New Zealand – March 4 – March 5, 2023
  • DOWNHILL – Cardrona, New Zealand – March 7 – March 9, 2023
  • PUMP TRACK – Queenstown, New Zealand – March 11 – March 12, 2023

For more information on the Crankworx Summer Series and Crankworx Rotorua 2023, visit the website:

Results – TREK Official New Zealand Whip Off Championships presented by POC

  1. Matt Begg (NZL)
  2. Peter Kaiser (AUT)
  3. Allan Cooke (USA)

Results – Maxxis Slopestyle in memory of McGazza

  1. Emil Johansson (Sweden)
  2. Timothée Bringer (FRA)
  3. Max Fredriksson (Sweden)

Results – King and Queen of Crankworx

  1. Bas van Steenbergen (CAN) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
  2. Tomas Lemoine (FRA) // Vaea Verbeeck (CAN)
  3. Samuel Blenkinsop (NZL) // Jordy Scott (USA)

Full results:

About Crankworx Rotorua

Crankworx Rotorua took off in March 2015, becoming the first festival outside of North America and Europe. Since then, it has hosted some of the most memorable moments in Crankworx history and is now referred to as the “Soul of Crankworx” due to its unique ability to combine riding with culture. This year, Crankworx Rotorua will once again be the final stop on the World Tour, celebrating the champions of the season, including the crowning of the King and Queen of Crankworx.

© Scoop Media


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