Published on 6/15/17
The Official European Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK brought mountain biking to the people for the opening of Crankworx Les Gets with a show worthy of its thunderous ending.
At the end of the night, two new athletes in the men’s field came out of nowhere to find themselves atop the podium, each taunting gravity just enough in the 45-degree tango to climb the ladder from pre-qualifying to the finals, and join some of the biggest names in mountain biking in the dirt.
The whip offers a field of invited and qualified riders the chance to out ‘steeze’ each other, swinging the bike parallel to the ground and back, with flawless, effortless style.
“This isn’t just for famous, well-known pros, whether they’re from downhill or from slopestyle. (The podium) seems to change with every event,” said Sven Martin, a judge and one of the Crankworx whip-off founders.
"We have the field compete on different occasions, with different winners. Really only Crabapple Hits (at Crankworx Whistler) uses the same jumps—and even that changes," he said.
“So, tonight we end up with three different guys and three different kinds of whips…And two brand new winners.”
Finishing in first place, Anthony Rocci (FRA) earned his trip to the top stair with big aerial prowess. Somewhat ironically, he managed to beat his nearest competitor, Allan Cooke, by manning up and putting the kind gusto into his whip to almost overcooking the performance.
Cooke’s consistent perfection, by comparison, was impressive, but couldn’t stand up to Rocci’s fearless abandon.
The women’s field winner, by comparison, consistently leaves every other competitor in her dust.
Canadian Casey Brown brought in the win against a pack, which appears to be slowly but surely working it's way into the sport, through Brown is completely undefeated in the discipline.Brown learned to whip, while carefully following the guys she hung out with as a teenage, and thinks it’s a great asset to have style and playfulness in her ride.
“I used to go out and build (trails) with the guys. I was just following them around and learning from them, and stuff, and I think I wanted it so badly, to be just as good as them, I really put my head down,” she said.
Brown said events like the whip-off, while not serious sport, have serious potential for furthering mountain biking because they make it open and accessible for aspiring competitive riders, and those who might take inspiration from getting right up in the thick of the action, to start riding and competing.
“I know a long time ago there were skin suits in downhill and they got rid of that because it was giving the sport the wrong image. I think it’s really important to reach a certain crowd and be able to appeal to the general public, and just make it so it’s not something like ski racing, which is really something that’s so far away. This is something that’s approachable and fun, and it looks fun,” she said.
Unlike a traditional whip-off, which runs a full hour, the athletes had the added pressure of beating the clock, knowing full well the thunder storm which ended the competition was brewing. Whether spurred by the weather, or the crowds who gathered for this, the first event of Crankworx Les Gets, the pressure seemed to amplify efforts.
Brown well outstripping some of her male competitors’ airtime, second place finisher Caroline Buchanan showed there are other women out to push boundaries, and all of the men’s podium danced high above the single booter build at the base of the Carry hill.
Weather for the rest of the week is expected to come up golden, as Crankworx opens its European doubleheader in the Alps.
Men’s results for the Official European Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK
Women’s results for the Official European Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK