Vaea Verbeeck sailed to a third straight podium finish at Crankworx Rotorua on Thursday. This time the Canadian Queen of Crankworx was second in the Clif Speed and Style competition.
Rotorua marks the first time a women’s Speed and Style contest has been held as part of Crankworx Rotorua. The event was won by 18-year-old Utah rider Jordy Scott. Women’s Speed and Style made its debut at Crankwrox Whistler in 2019. Scott also won that event, giving her a perfect record in the discipline.
On the men’s side, it was past-champion Thomas Lemoine taking top honours in a showdown with Greg Watts.
Next generation shines in women’s Speed and Style
Jordy Scott’s win is her second Speed and Style title, but her road to the podium was far from easy. In the semi-final, Scott faced off against veteran Crankworx competitor Jill Kintner. It was Kintner’s first Speed and Style appearance and the multi-talented rider was clearly focused on the speed element. Scott, just 18 years old, appeared unphased by her high-profile opponent. The young Utah-based rider not only held close to Kintner on time but threw in the no handers and tire grabs that would earn her her title a short while later.
Canada’s Vaea Verbeeck was the next to challenge Scott in the Speed and Style bracket. In the final round, the reigning Queen of Crankworx held close to her young challenger on the first run. Verbeeck’s tuck no hander and suicide no hander combo put her a nose in front of Scott going into the second, and final run. The pressure was on, and Scott again looked unphased. When Verbeeck faltered, missing her no hander on the top jump, Scott rode consistently to take the win.
For Scott, just having the chance to race a Speed and Style event is a big step in the right direction for Crankworx.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Scott of the addition to the Crankworx line up. “All the young girls that are coming up are so ridiculously skilled. They’re really pushing to get to this level. So being able to see that this is possible and to be able to have something to aspire to is so awesome.”
Lemoine finds time for an extra win
For Thomas Lemoine, Crankworx Rotorua is a busy week. The French rider may be the 2018 Speed and Style World Tour Champion, but his main gig is slopestyle. In 2020, the Speed and Style competition took place the day before his main event, the Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza. The tight schedule forced Lemoine to make a tough choice between being fresh for slopestyle and the fun of an extra competition. He almost didn’t enter the Speed and Style at all.
“I was like ‘I love racing, I love Speed & Style, I will regret if I’m riding bad tomorrow and I didn’t do anything today.’ So I thought I’m just going to try and push to my limits to make it happen,” said Lemoine, after taking the win. “I’m stoked that it worked. I have a lot to do for tomorrow, so sleep early tonight and try to make it happen tomorrow.”
Greg Watts finished second to Lemoine in the final round, with Garret Mechem third. The top Canadian finisher in Speed and Style was Jackson Goldstone. Squamish’s 16-year-old mountain bike phenom finished 13th, adding to his win in the Oceania Whip-Off Championships.