There is one more day of Crankworx Rotorua before the season wraps up but Bas van Steenbergen has already clinched the King of Crankowrx crown. With a podium finish in the Speed and Style event on Saturday, van Steenbergen landed enough points for his second consecutive Crankworx coronation.
The women’s competition also wrapped up Saturday, since there’s no women’s Slopestyle event. Caroline Buchanan emerged victorious after a season-long battle with Jordy Scott and defending champ, Canada’s Vaea Verbeeck.
Bas van Steenbergen defends crown while Lemoine keeps streak alive
The men’s Speed and Style final was timed to near perfection. As Tomas Lemoine and Peter Kaiser dropped in on their second of two runs, pouring rain started to fall, and fall fast. The two raced each other and the weather to the finish line. With his advantage from the first run, Lemoine was able to keep his Speed and Style winning streak alive.
Saturday’s win is Lemoine’s fourth Speed and Style win this year, a perfect run at Crankworx for the French rider.
“I’m stoked but also kind of stressed for tomorrow,” Lemoine in the finish area, with his mind already turning to Sunday’s Slopestyle competition. “It’s going to be my first time ever dropping in to train the course on the same day as the contest. It’s going to be challenging, but this is what we are here for man. It’s the last Speed & Style of the season so I knew I couldn’t miss it. I love it, and wanted to give it a try and we will see what happens tomorrow in Slopestyle.”
Slopestyle delivered a third podium in Rotorua for Bas van Steenbergen. The Canadian won his small final to finish third and, with those points, clinch the King of Crankworx crown. That makes back-to-back titles, with van Steenbergen earning his first coronation in Rotorua in 2021.
“They did an incredible job with getting this course ready,” van Steenbergen said of today’s racing. “I definitely didn’t think we’d be racing today after all this rain, so hats off to all the trail builders. Stoked!”
While van Steenbergen now has the points to clinch the King of Crankworx title, the podium positions are still wide open. Sam Blenkinsop sits second, with 632 points. With his win Saturday, Tomas Lemoine draws even with Jackson Frew at 620 points. Lemoine is the only rider among the leaders who is on the start list for Sunday’s Slopestyle event, opening the door for him to take a run at Blenki’s spot in second.
Buchanan battles the Queen for her crown
In the women’s Queen of Crankworx points race, Caroline Buchanan started her day tied for first overall with U.S. rider Jordy Scott. When Scott crashed hard in practice, separating her AC joint, Buchanan ended up going head-t0-head with the now-outgoing Queen of Crankworx, Canada’s Vaea Verbeeck.
Buchanan and Verbeeck, who sat third overall coming into Saturday’s competition, worked their way through the ladder to meet in the women’s final. The Australian used her unique combination of BMX background and current slopestyle ambitions to her advantage, throwing a tuck no-hander to toboggan to best Verbeeck’s suicide no-hander for style points. On the second run, Buchanan led both in raw speed and style, winning the Speed and Style gold medal and, with that, nabbing the Queen of Crankworx Crown.
“The Queen of Crankworx has definitely been on my mind,” Buchanan rough road to Queen of Crankworx. Both she and Verbeeck, who moves past Scot into second, have battled injuries this year. “I’ve been head-to-head against Queens in the past like Jill Kitner. I had a crack at this title six years ago and couldn’t beat Jill. So since then it has been a little out of my mindset with Slopestyle, BMX, Olympics, injuries, and this year I still can’t believe it. Crankworx is home for me. This has been such a battle. I even rode Downhill this week which is not my forte and I am just so honored to be Queen, I’m honored to ride against these girls. For Jordy that crashed out in practice. You never want to see another girl go down. Honestly it’s been a shift of royalty with Jordy, myself, Vaea, and we’ve all been so competitive and I just love everyone.”
Harriet Burbidge-Smith threw back-flips at race pace to earn bronze in Speed and Style. That put her in fourth overall in the Queen points race but was not quite enough to surpass Jordy Scott for third.
Results – CLIF Speed & Style Rotorua
- Tomas Lemoine (FRA) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
- Peter Kaiser (AUS) // Vaea Verbeeck (CAN)
- Bas van Steenbergen (CAN) // Harriet Burbidge-Smith (AUS)