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CRANKWORX HEADING TO WALES? - Lewis Panther, Innsbruck
Wednesday June 28, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Mountain bikers doing back flips, whip-offs and cork 720s could be on their way to the UK, PlanetSKI can reveal.

Organisers of Crankworx - the MTB festival that started off in Whistler 14 years ago - have been approached by Bike Park Wales about holding the event in the Valleys.

Although talks are  at an early stage, Crankworx has visited South Wales to check out the runs at the trail centre near Merthyr Tydfil, we have learned.

PlanetSKI caught up with general manager Darren Kinnaird at the event at Innsbruck, which was third of this year's four stop-offs for riders performing spectacular stunts.

After being blown away by the spectacular stunts, we asked if he thought Crankworx could be held in the UK at somewhere like Fort William.

And we were blown away again when he said the team had already been approached by Bike Park Wales.

"I've been there. It's looking really good, but maybe needs a couple of years before we would do it there," Kinnaird said.

"We've had interest from a few destinations who would like to have the festival at their resort and we could expand to have more than the four stops we hold now.

"We'll see how it goes.

"That's how we came to Rotorua. We'd been talking to people in Australia about holding it in Thredbo and got to hear though hotel owners about this place in New Zealand where there was this really dedicated riding community.

"That's the type of place we want to be to showcase great mountain biking," Kinnaird commented.




Crankworx was born in Whistler in the mid-2000s.

It was the brainchild of mountain biking enthusiasts and marketing men who wanted to get more visitors to the resort during the summer.

Now the Canadian ski resort that celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2015/16 season is as busy during the summer as it is in winter.

The reason to the take biking festival on the road around the world has the same economic-based aims, according to Kinnaird.

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Les2Alpes was the first venue outside north America to feature the festival.

It handed over the reigns of the French leg to Les Gets two years ago.

With more than 17,000 spectators visiting the slopes above Innsbruck during the four-day event and as many as 10,000 watching the slopestyle final in Les Gets, it looks like they are getting the message across.

But while the festival is unashamedly a way of promoting tourism in the mountains, the Canadian says Crankworx wants to show off the very best in mountain biking.

"We want to crown the best athletes as King and Queen of mountain biking when we get to Whistler in August," Kinnaird said.

That's when the final leg of the series takes place and prize of up to $25,000 are up for grabs.

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Innsbruck was holding Crankworx for the first time this year.

But it will be back in 2018 and Innsbruck is already benefitting from the tie-in with their trail-builders.

Tom Prohaska of Gravity Logic, who carved Whistler's famous A-LIne trail, is due to start work on expanding the runs a few hundred metres above the historic city in Matters within the next few weeks.

They're hoping to have a trail to rival the iconic Whistler this season.

The plan is to expand the Crazy Family red run further down the mountain, turning it into a seven kilometre flow trail with 180 turns.

The idea is that the run can be tackled by anyone from beginners to professional downhillers, with easier "chicken runs" for mere mortals.

PlanetSKI checked out the red run with mountain guide Markus Emprechtinger.

After 750-plus metres vertical up a fire road, it was good to get into the 2.4km run littered with roots, switchbacks and berms.

As well as a few curious bullocks.

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When the new trail opens later this summer bringing riders much further back down the mountain, it should be epic.

As for the results, there wasn't a Brit in the blue riband slopestyle event, but downhill world champion Danny Hart continued to show why he is number one in the rankings.


So there's something to be said for bringing Crankworx to the UK.

The festival has gone down a storm here in Austria.

So why not.

Managing Director of Innsbruck Tourism, Karin Seiler-Lall, said it was "another important step to strengthen our image as a sport capital of the Alps."

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