The top slopestyle mountain bikers in the world were flyin through the air at SilverStar Mountain Resort Wednesday getting ready to compete in the Crankworx Summer Series.
The three-day festival is a gold level freeride mountain bike world tour slopestyle event that starts Friday, Aug. 4, and ends Sunday, Aug. 6.
This year is special, as for the first time, SilverStar will be hosting a women’s slopestyle event. Roughly 40 of the best female slopestyle mountain bikers will be competing alongside the men starting Friday.
There is over $30,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, including $10,000 for the winner of the men’s slopestyle event.
Riders will spend the next couple days getting used to the course, which features some massive jumps and drops.
“They’re really big jumps, so it takes some getting used to. A lot of these riders come from all over the world and some of them have never experienced the course before, so they usually just try and get their speed right and they do one feature at a time, and then usually by tomorrow and Friday they’ll be doing top to bottom runs,” said Ian Jenkins, director of marketing at SilverStar.
Jenkins said when SilverStar hosted Crankworx last year, they had six women test out the course to see if a women’s division would be viable. The women proved they could hang with their male counterparts on the course.
“The sport’s progressed a lot on the women’s side,” Jenkins said. “Either younger women coming up or other people getting into the sport, it’s come a long way.”
The Crankworx competition takes place at the slopestyle course underneath the Silver Queen lift. The event is free, and people are welcome to park in the main parking lots, walk past Tube Town and take in the action.
Riders come from all over the world, but there will be some Canadians to cheer for, including Ben Thompson of Squamish, who just finished a stellar performance at Crankworx Whistler last weekend.
And while he’s not competing this weekend, the track itself was designed by Vernon slopestyle legend Brett Rheeder, who is sponsored as a professional athlete by SilverStar this year.
“This is my home park that I come ride and use for my training,” Rheeder told The Morning Star.
Rheeder, along with a SilverStar crew, started building the slopestyle course in 2019. It was completed in 2021 after a COVID layover, in time for SilverStar to host its first Crankworx competition in September of that year.
Rheeder explains the course he designed has slightly smaller jumps than other similar courses to allow riders to grow into the sport. He hopes the course will lead to the next generation of riders making their way up the ranks of the sport here in Vernon.
“It’s turned into one of their favourite courses on the world tour,” Rheeder said.
Rheeder has competed in slopestyle for 15 years. Beyond merely competing, he’s won most of the events he’s taken part in multiple times between 2012 and 2019.
For the past couple years, he’s taken a break from the adrenaline-pumping world of competitive mountain biking, but he’s looking forward to getting back in the saddle.
“I took a step back and I just tried to discover who I am without the bike, and so now I’m back and I’m excited to ride again.”
Rheeder’s story could soon be on the big screen; a camera crew was following him around Wednesday for a documentary that will delve into his life and his slopestyle career.
“I will definitely be watching this (Crankworx) competition, and most of my family is coming out from the east coast to watch it with me,” he said. “All these guys and girls that are here are my friends from all around the world, and it’s a special occasion to be here.”