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Women’s Speed & Style will debut at Crankworx Whistler

B.C. festival will be first time women get a chance to compete at the spectator friendly race format

Caroline Buchanan Crankworx

It’s gearing up to be an exciting year for women’s mountain biking!

Crankworx has announced the very first women’s Clif Speed & Style will debut in Whistler this August.

The racing format combines head to head racing with judged trick component, for a cumulative time. It has been part of the men’s racing calendar for years at Crankworx, always drawing large crowds with its fast paced and exciting racing. This will be the first time women have their own Speed & Style competition.

Caroline Buchanan Crankworx
Caroline Buchanan. Image: Fraser Britton / Crankworx

“There are girls out there now that’re starting to push their style element in mountain biking,” says Caroline Buchanan. She says to have a platform and an opportunity for women to showcase a skill set that includes more than racing is key in giving female riders the recognition they deserve, as well as the opportunity to progress. “Obviously Slopestyle has been massive for the men and the progression has been huge, so to open that pathway for women is crucial. I’m all for it, 100%.”

While 2019 will see the addition of Clif Speed & Style, the event is just the first step in a long term vision to change the place of women’s mountain biking at Crankworx.

RELATED: Shifting perceptions of women in mountain biking at Crankworx

“The ultimate goal is to have women competing in Slopestyle at Crankworx one day,” says Crankworx General Manager Darren Kinnaird. “We’re trying to find the right formula to create a space for this side of women’s mountain biking to flourish at Crankworx. The key is finding the sweet spot: a contest that meets female riders where they’re at now, while also providing room to grow and progress. A course and a format that’s both achievable and aspirational – that women can really show off what they can do, while also pushing them to the next level. We’re hoping a women’s category in Speed & Style will be that right mix.

Casey Brown Crankworx
Casey Brown at Whip-Off World Championships. Image: Fraser Britton / Crankworx 2018

Crankworx announcement follows closely on the heels of news that 2019 would see the first Women’s Slopestyle Tour (WST), presented in partnership with the Freeride Mountain Bike Association.

“Not only will this help to foster growth in both rider confidence and advance the skills of riders, but it will create a ranking for those who may be seeking sponsorship or much needed exposure,” says Stephanie Nychka, one of the driving forces behind the creation of the WST. “In the past there has been a lack of support and growth within this discipline for female athletes, which has been detrimental to the progression of riders and development of new ones.”

RELATED: Women’s Slopestyle Tour is coming to Canada

Caroline Buchanan Crankworx
Caroline Buchanan. Image: Fraser Britton / Crankworx

As an invitational event, Clif Dual Speed & Style organizers will be watching the WST events as well as Lisa Mason’s Whistler-based Women’s Freeride Movement events for its pool of athletes.

“With the creation of freestyle events for women, I see nothing but exponential growth,” says Mason. “When we run women’s competitions, it elevates the level in the sport, becomes the norm, and makes it visible to the next generation. It enables inspiration and the creation of dreams of things that weren’t previously thought possible, like women’s slopestyle!”

Both men’s and women’s categories of the Clif Speed & Style will take place Friday August 16, 2019.

Following the Clif Speed & Style event will be the Best Trick contest. With a men’s and all-new women’s category, it marks the return of the event for the first time since Crankworx Whistler 2013.