Posted by: Feet Banks
It’s always been a problem: media and industry support in the so-called “action sports” have traditionally been very heavily weighted towards the dudes and the bros, with female athletes too often being paid less, given less coverage and being basically ignored by many industry “leaders”.
Times are changing though. Statistics from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park show that women are the fastest growing rider demographic and I just saw a three-year old girl pedal through Whistler Village on a tiny full suspension mountain bike with training wheels.
Crankworx Whistler has kicked into high gear this week and the world’s premier mountain biking festival is definitely not ignoring female or younger riders. What used to be a huge “bro-brah” hard-core dude love-in has evolved into a festival that features women’s clinics, women-only riding sessions, kids races in multiple disciplines, and many other family-themed events.
“We want to make sure the opportunities are there so people coming up to celebrate mountain biking can get involved in something more than just a spectator experience," says Crankworx media maven Julia Montague."Kidsworx has been around a couple years but it’s definitely expanded for 2014. There are over 100 kids registered in today’s B-Line Downhill race.”
And that is just the beginning. Wednesday August 13th, 2014 features an invitational DH race for 10-12-year-old shredders down A-line, the most famous trail in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. That’s pre-teen kids ripping the same course as the adults—1200 vertical metres of little kids getting big air and burning up the dirt.
While professional female riders are represented in nearly all of Crankworx big events recreational female riders also had their own shot at A-line with the Liv Womens-Only A-line session earlier this week.
“A-line is a world famous jump trail, a trail every aspiring DH rider wants to conquer,” says Whistler rider Pip Campbell. “It can be pretty intimidating to know where to start, and the women’s’ only session allowed us to put in some laps in a relaxed environment plus get coaching on jumping technique and how to approach different features on the trail. I had a blast on Sunday, I’m keen to get back out there and work on clearing all those jumps!”
Crankworx is Pip Campbell's favourite week of the year in Whistler, this is why. LEFT:COAST MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY.
Crankworx also featured a women’s jump clinic at the Air Dome and SRAM is hosting women’s tech clinics throughout the week. Really young kids are ripping the daily pump track sessions or gearing up for the Familyworx Run Bike Fun series on Sunday August 17, 2012. And the most fun of all is the annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival on Saturday August 16th, 2014. Who doesn’t love chasing/racing wheels of cheese down Blackcomb Mountain?
The Red Bull Joyride is still the highlight of the week (and one of the gnarliest contests of the year) but the overall Crankworx atmosphere of inclusion seems to be a recipe for success. Over the past decade it’s grown into the highlight of the Whistler summer and perhaps the largest event of the year. Here’s hoping the rest of the action sports world is paying attention.
“I love watching the big races and photo and video competitions,” Pip Campbell says, “but the events I love the best allow me to ride my bike, learn new skills and meet people from Whistler and beyond. That’s the spirit of Crankworx, for me.”
Crankworx runs until August 17,2014 and this upcoming weekend is going to be a big one. Get event details, a free concert schedule plus accommodation deals at Whistler.com.
Whistler's Chantelle Pellerin on Green Monster. SILAS KIRCHMAYER PHOTO
Check out this video from the 2013 Ladies A-Line sessions. (2014 vid coming soon!)