Crankworx starts in Whistler this weekend which means it’s time for the only North American stop of the Enduro World Series, the notoriously gnarly Canadian Open Enduro.
Also known as Crankzilla, the Whistler EWS is a single day race covering a large selection of the most difficult trails in the valley and within the Whistler bike park. This year features five stages culminating in a huge, and often decisive descent from the Top of the World chair down to the Whistler Village far below.
EWS Whistler – Pro Men
In 2017 Jesse Melamed (Rocky Mountain / Race Face) landed his first ever EWS victory, winning in front of a very supportive home crowd. This year the Whistler local is coming off a mid-season injury that saw him miss the France EWS round. Back on time for Rounds 3 and 4, Melamed quickly returned to pace. He landed 10th in his first race back, then fourth a week later in La Thuile, Italy.
To repeat the win, he’ll have to beat Sam Hill, the man who finished second behind him last year. Hill’s been nearly unstoppable this season, winning every round but one. Melamed may know Whistler’s trails like the back of his hand, but it will still take an impressive ride to unseat the untouchable Hill.
Whistler’s been a good track for other Canadians, too, with Melamed’s teammate Remi Gauvin finishing fifth in 2017, and Mckay Vezina (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) having one of his best results in 17th. They’re be joined by a host of Canadians taking advantage of having a race so close to home.
EWS Whistler – Pro Women
Even more dominant than Hill has been Cecile Ravanel. The French rider for Commencal Vallnord has won every round, even racing World Cup downhill events between EWS appearances. Behind Ravanel at every stop, Isabeau Courdurier (Intense Mavic Collective) has finished no worse than second this season.
While the two French women have locked down the top two podium steps, the battle for third has been wide open. In the Austria / Slovenia round, it was Revelstoke’s Casey Brown claiming third. Brown has split her time between the Crankworx World Tour and EWS, and will be on the start line again this weekend in Whistler.
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau is also arriving in Whistler on the road back from injury like her Rocky Mountain / Race Face teammate Melamed, and is also showing good speed. In just her second race back, Lanthier Nadeau finished sixth at La Thuile. In 2017 ALN was fifth at the Canadian Open Enduro, and she’ll be looking to match, or improve on that this weekend.
With the opportunity to race close to home, there’s a small army of Canadian shredders headed to the mountain biking mecca for the Canadian Open Enduro. Some, like Rachel Pageau (Devinci Unior), Brendon Edgar, Trevor Thew and Takoda Crawford, have been making their way around the globe to EWS events all year. Many others, including a large U21 contingent, have been honing their skills at the MEC Canadian Enduro Series and will be making their only Enduro World Series appearance. This season has already seen several local privateer racers surprise the regulars, so keep an eye out for the Canuck’s to step up on home soil.