Crankworx: Ten Years of Mountain Biking’s Evolution Crammed into Whistler BC

Canadian Open Downhill by Steve Andrews on 500px.com
Cana­di­an Open Down­hill by Steve Andrews

Surf­ing has the Triple Crown. Snow­board­ing has the US Open. But the mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary nature of Moun­tain bik­ing made it quite the effort to get all the dif­fer­ent sects of the sport into one place at one time. Thanks to indus­try vision­ary, Skip Tay­lor, that was made possible.

See, ten years ago, Moun­tain bik­ing was a sport that meant dif­fer­ent things depend­ing on who you asked. Each dis­ci­pline had it’s own ‘scene’ that more or less kept to them­selves; rac­ers would go on their respec­tive race cir­cuits, and freestylers did­n’t even have a way to show­case their tal­ent for the world.

Fast-for­ward to present day where we have an entire indus­try cur­rent­ly con­verg­ing on Whistler, BC — a place that every sin­gle moun­tain bik­er has heard of since they first real­ized grav­i­ty and bikes make a won­der­ful rela­tion­ship. The bike park, trails in the val­ley, and live­ly vil­lage all col­lide to cre­ate the per­fect venue for one of the most fun, excit­ing, over­stim­u­lat­ing fes­ti­vals in all of action sports. 

Above the rooftops by Steve Andrews on 500px.com
Above the rooftops by Steve Andrews

Crankworx has become syn­ony­mous with moun­tain bik­ing’s evo­lu­tion over the past ten years. Indeed, the sport owes much to this sum­mer­time sta­ple for any­thing moun­tain bike relat­ed. The entire indus­try con­verges for nine days of events, par­ties, demos, and any­thing else that hap­pens when ath­letes and indus­try titans are all togeth­er in some of the most amaz­ing ter­rain on earth. 

I had a chance to speak with Skip Tay­lor, one of the peo­ple involved with the cre­ation of Crankworx. He con­tin­ues to devel­op the fes­ti­val to new heights as the Exec­u­tive Pro­duc­er. He’s seen the event grow from an idea in a meet­ing to it’s cur­rent sta­tus as a must-stop for all pro ath­letes, indus­try work­ers, and fans of a sport that has­n’t always had a cen­tral spot for every­one to converge.

It’s fun­ny where names for things orig­i­nate. “There was this skit on SNL with Mike Myers called ‘Sprock­ets’ ”, Skip tells me with a laugh.  “One of the skits had a dat­ing show with­in it called Lover­worx, and we would always joke about it.  Any­way we were los­ing our minds about ‘lover­worx’ and then we start­ed say­ing ‘Crankworx’, and it was all this joke, but then we start­ed talk­ing about the brand, and how that could work…”

Red Bull Joyride by Steve Andrews on 500px.com
Red Bull Joyride by Steve Andrews

And so the Crankworx Freeride Moun­tain Bike Fes­ti­val was born in 2004 as a four-day series of events span­ning var­i­ous dis­ci­plen with­in the bur­geon­ing sport of down­hill moun­tain biking. 

“I nev­er antic­i­pat­ed in my wildest dreams that it would grow to what it is now,”  Skip remarks as we dis­cuss the past decade. We are now fea­tured on Net­work Tele­vi­sion (NBC) for a two hour spe­cial.  It does­n’t get much big­ger than that.  But even more so, we are a full-blown ten day fes­ti­val that is now a mod­el for a resort to show­case their prod­uct to the best in the world.” 

Show­cas­ing their prod­uct is some­thing that Crankworx does well.  The fes­ti­val is backed by Whistler/Blackcomb, own­ers and cre­ators of the oft-copied-nev­er-repli­cat­ed Whistler Moun­tain Bike Park, the stan­dard by which all oth­er moun­tain bike parks aspire to become. 

Inverted by Steve Andrews on 500px.com
Invert­ed by Steve Andrews

Beyond the live in-house pro­duc­tion, the Crankworx pro­duc­ers have worked hard to make sure the events are show­cased at the high­est qual­i­ty to the world.  “We have invest­ed a lot in con­tent to give our view­ers the best expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. We have footage from heli­copters, cable cams, and much more, as well as live updates on our mobile app. We real­ly do our best to be on the cut­ting edge of tech­nol­o­gy so that if you can’t be here to wit­ness the action in per­son, you will still get a ton out of the event.”

All the action can be found at www.crankworx.com. If you ride a moun­tain bike, you will be inspired to get out there and see what is pos­si­ble on two wheels. Even if you aren’t a moun­tain bik­er, you will want to tune in to see the best ath­letes in the world com­pet­ing on some of the world’s best ter­rain — a great com­bo if I’ve ever seen one.