Crankworx 2009: Lopes, Griffiths win Air DH, Buchar takes Womenzworx

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Brian Lopes wins 4th consecutive Air DH; Fionn Griffiths wins women's

Brain Lopes remains undefeated down the world’s most famous downhill track, taking his fourth consecutive victory in the Crankworx Air DH in Whistler on Wednesday.

Lopes (USA), claimed first with a time of 4:20.45; Chris Kovarik (AUS) took second place with a time of 4:23.48; Andrew Neethling (RSA), took third place with a time of 4:24.42; and Jared Rando (AUS) took fourth place with a time of 4:25.01.

After a morning of heavy rain the sky’s cleared and the race was on. 340 racers ripped down A-line, a trail beset by jumps and berms. It's not a typical technical downhill track, but one where scrubbing over jumps and pedalling out of berms is vital for a good time.

"This race gets harder every year, everyone is gunning for you,” said Lopes. “The rain made it a little slick in some corners but I relied on my fitness and tried to put a smooth run together.”

In the Pro Women category, Fionn Griffiths (GBr), took the top spot with a time of 4:50.71; Jill Kintner (USA) took second with a time of 4:51.71; Emmeline Ragot (Fra), took third with a time of 4:52.04, and Micayla Gatto (Can) took fourth with a time of 4:52.53.

In the juniors one of Whistler’s fastest youths came through for the win.  Tyler Allison got a 4.31.05 - a time that would have put him way up there in the pro rankings.  Keep an eye out for this kid on the future.

Claire Buchar wins Womenzworx

Claire Buchar and Stephanie Nychka split the $1000 winning prize purse at the end of a highly eventful Womenzworx.   The competition was split into three sections: two open sections where the ladies would session a set section of track and be judged on how they tackled the terrain.  The third competition was a invitational event called The Gala which took place in the Boneyard Slopestyle course.

Womenzworx co-founder and pro mountain biker Katrina Strand said: “The event went really well. The girls have progressed immensely from last year. We were impressed and we had a lot of fun as well, which is always important. We were really happy to incorporate the The Gala slopestyle event into the programming because it gave us chance to showcase the skills that the girls have. We were there in the Boneyard riding the same features as the boys, which is great exposure for these ladies.”

Stephanie Nychka riding high

Both Buchar and Nychka rode the top half of the Boneyard, guinea pigging the lines for the men who will be riding the Slopestyle on Sunday.  It was almost a last woman standing event as the five pre-qualified spots for the Gala were swiftly whittled down to two, each rider pushing themselves to the limit and beyond 

Nychka went down in her final run attempting a huge wallride transfer.  After a few tense moments she got up to great applause from the crowd.

“Girls are breaking ground here,” said pro-rider and commentator Darcy Turenne, who was unable to compete in the Gala due to a previous injury. “I think this slopestyle is really going to show the world that women can throw down too.”

The two open competitions held in the morning required the women to tackle a technical descent on In Deep and a jumps and tricks competition on Dirt Merchant.

Four of the top six winners of WomenzWorx were Canadians. In the pro women’s category, Whistler local Claire Buchar (Can) won first with a score of 31.40, Lorraine Blancher (Can) took second with 28.10, and Kathy Pruitt (USA) captured third place with 27.93.

See also: Crankworx 2009: Leov wins Garbanzo DH, Strait takes dual slalom

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