The first event of Crankworx Rotorua is in the books and Ryan Howard took the win at the Offical Oceania Whip-Off Championship.
March 25, 2015 Rotorua, New Zealand—With the reigning World Whip-Off Champion, Finn Iles, sidelined by injury and serving as a judge, Californian Ryan “R-Dog” Howard rocked up and walked away with a win.
“I’ve never really won anything, so it’s pretty huge for me. I’m stoked,” said HOWARD.
Howard will also compete in the Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style on Thursday and hangs with the best of the Slopestyle gravity scene. The Whip-Off, he says, suits his riding style.
“It’s a jam format and I really like jamming, so that’s when I ride the best,” he said. “I’m just having fun riding bikes.”
A large crowd was going crazy as Howard threw down 90-degree whip, after whip to secure the top spot, and Brandon Jackson, who crashed twice and finished the event on crutches, was given an honourable mention by the judges.
“There’s a lot of new talent, so that’s awesome to see. R-Dog was the clear-cut winner, though, and it was really tight from the second to seventh places; but R-Dog was consistently the best this time round,” said mountain bike photographer Sven Martin, creator of the Whip-Off and event judge.
As the first event of the new Crankworx World Tour and Crankworx Rotorua, the Whip-Off made its mark with 75 entrants and a hillside full of spectators.
“The whip-off has definitely got the best vibe of every event, I reckon. This one is a bit of a one-hit wonder. You get one jump. In Whistler, you get three jumps—but this is fun,” said Canadian Casey Brown. She liked how the venue made it more accessible for families and larger crowds than the mountainside perch where the whip is held in Whistler. Alana Callum, from Queenstown, was the only other woman to challenge the event and the pair had the crowd on their feet.
Iles earned the title of World Whip-Off Champion in August at just 14 years old, after fans rallied to see him compete in Whistler. He was two years under age and he had been trying to compete since he was 12. A wrist injury took him out of competition in Rotorua, which was to be his first overseas event.
“It was cool to see how the other guys were throwing down but it was hard wanting to go out and ride myself,” he said from the judge’s huddle.
1. Ryan Howard (USA)
2. Connor Fearon (NZ)
3. Bernard Kerr (UK)
1. Casey Brown (CAN)
2. Alana Callum (NZ)
Thursday Mar 26: The Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style brings a list of 40 professional riders invited to compete in head-to-head battle a mano-a-mano-style competition to battle the clock, while still capturing bonus points for speed. The 40 invited riders include legends of the sport like Cam ZINK (USA), Kyle STRAIT (USA), Martin SODERSTROM, Brendan FAIRCLOUGH (GBR) and Greg WATTS (USA), but also saw several Kiwi riders invited out to compete on home turf—Phil McLean, Cole Lucas, Connor MacFarlane and Eddie Masters.
And three hours later, 18 women and 45 men, will descend on the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox. The Women’s Pump Track is stacked with top riders and is the best lineup Crankworx has ever seen with four-time Pump Track Queen Jill Kintner (USA) looking to recapture her place atop the podium. She faces Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA) – 2008 Olympic Gold medalist in BMX, Sarah Walker (NZL) – 2012 Olympic silver medalist in BMX, Anneke Beerten (NED) – BMX and 4Cross World Champion and world-class downhill riders like Tracey Hannah (AUS), Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI) and Casey Brown (CAN).
Beginning tomorrow, all the action will be LIVE at Crankworx.com
Mar. 26 – Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style (12-2pm NZT / 4-6pm PST previous day / midnight-2am CET)
Mar. 26 – Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox (5-7pm / 9-11pm previous day PST/ 5-7am CET)
Mar. 27 – Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS (3-5 pm NZT / 7-9 pm PST previous day / 5-7am CET)
Mar. 28 – Giant Toa Enduro (4-6pm NZT / 8-10pm PST previous day / 4-6am CET)
Mar. 29 – Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle (12:30-3pm NZT / 4:30-7pm PST previous day / 12:30-3am CET)