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Crankworx cues up crowns (and cash) in New Zealand

King, Queen and Triple Crown of Crankworx all up for grabs in Rotorua

Photo by: Chris Pilling

With winter rolling into Canada, Crankworx World Tour is heading south for  second summer. This isn’t just another chance at hero dirt and warm weather, though. With King, Queen and Triple Crown titles all to play for, Crankworx southern hemisphere sojourn is serious competition.

What’s on the line for those titles? Potentially $40,000 in slopestyle alone, including what could be the second-ever Triple Crown of slopestyle, and a total of NZL $100,000 for the King and Queen of Crankworx competitions .

It all starts November 1-7 at Crankworx Rotorua.

Bas van Steenbergen. Photo: Jake Paddon

King and Queen of Crankworx

Two Canadians are headed south in pursuit of the Crankworx crowns. One, Vaea Verbeeck looking to regain her crown. The other, Bas van Steenbergen, looking to win one for the first time after a title run was disrupted in 2020.

“I’ve raced Crankworx for many years now but I’m yet to find the success in racing I’ve been looking for,” said van Steenbergen. “After 2019, I was actually looking to stop racing Crankworx and do something else, because I felt like I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be, but I decided to keep at it which ended up being a great decision! Walking away leading the King of Crankworx event after Rotorua in 2020 got me really fired up and made me realize the changes I’d made in my training were working. Fast forward to this year, I kept training that way and it has led me here, so that’s pretty awesome! I love traveling to NZ every year and even though it’s a crazy time, I feel super privileged to be here and able to compete in this beautiful country!”

Van Steenbergen, like Verbeeck, leads his points race. But Tohoto Ariki-Pene, George Brannigan or Thomas Lemoine could still disrupt the chase.

Vaea Verbeeck also has a strong lead after a week of racing at Crankworx B.C. A strong group of riders are in pursuit, including fellow Canadian Casey Brown, the U.S.’s Kialani Hines and newcomer Harriet Burbidge-Smith.

“Each year on the Crankworx World Tour is a different challenge,” said Verbeeck. “I do feel like you need the stars to align and be ready for the opportunities to present themselves. So I prepare myself, and thankfully I enjoy riding all sorts of bikes which makes the road to success an enjoyable one. I like to hold on to the basics that the best person should win. So I’m happy if I did the best I could (which is hard to achieve in itself) and if a fellow racer wins over me, I am truly happy for them. They deserved it! My goal is simply to be the happiest I can be and to share those moments with friends, whether we’re celebrating my achievements or theirs. I think this mentality takes the pressure off and works best for me. I ride my best when I’m having fun.”

Emil Johansson. Photo: Jake Paddon / Crankworx

Emil Johansson chases FMBA title and Crankworx Triple Crown

For Emil Johansson, there is so much on the line. The Slopestyle phenom leads the FMBA series with five-straight wins and is looking to take over the title from Brett Rheeder, as well as the $15,000 paycheck that comes with it. The rider that looks most likely to challenge him is Erik Fedco.

Erik Fedko. Photo: Jake Paddon / Crankworx

“That was definitely by best ever Slopestyle run,” said the German rider. “I was super stoked. I worked hard on practice at home. I was stoked to lay down that run, with a new trick in it, which I landed the day before finals in practice, so I was stoked about landing it in finals. It makes me feel even more stoked to go into Rotorua and throw down with all the boys and session and ride the contest and hopefully do good again. Looking forward to it.”

Johansson has 2000 points to Fedko’s 1620. Nicholi Rogatkin, with 1556, sits in third.

Emil Johansson. Photo: Clint Trahan / Crankworx

The U.S. rider has one thing that his Swedish rival doesn’t. Rogatkin is the only rider in history to win the Triple Crown of Slopestyle. The title, which goes to any rider that can win three slopetyle events in a single year, has only been once since it was introduced. This year, Johansson is in the running.

Despite teh $25,000 prize, Johansson is trying to remain calm. “I’m just going to try my best, as always, and see where it takes me. You can’t really do anything else.”