Words By: Bernard Kerr
Photos By: Boris Beyer
Returning to its usual spot just after the Leogang World Cup, everyone was excited for a week of racing at Crankworx Innsbruck. The cool city in a stunning alpine valley is a perfect venue for Crankworx where the world’s best come to compete and have fun.
After his unfortunate injury the previous weekend, Matt took the wise decision to not compete in any events at Crankworx. Instead, he was working hard on rehabbing his shoulder and keeping his legs spinning for the fast-approaching EWS in Italy.
First day of Crankworx started early for Dual Slalom training and qualification. The track at Innsbruck is always super fun, man-made jumps, berms and rollers out the gate build the speed for some tricky flat grass turns just before the finish line.
Eddie and Bernard were enjoying training and qualified 12th and 8th respectively they would move easily into the next round. The round of 32 determined who would be in tomorrow’s live show. It was tight, but Eddie won both his heats and progressed safely. Bernard won his first heat but a small mistake saw him lose his second heat, fortunately his first win gave him enough time in the bag to also progress.
The evening saw the event head up the mountain to the most picture-perfect jump around for the Whip-Off. A super fun and relaxed jam style competition has riders from all disciplines throwing bikes sideways over a huge jump. Being one of Bernard’s favorite events, he is always one of the most stylish and sideways riders. A big shout out to Barney, Bernard and Emilie’s mechanic showing everyone he can handle both a bike and spanners by getting sideways all evening.
Exciting racing in the Dual Slalom saw Bernard and Eddie make it into the two semi-finals. Eddie was pushed hard but made it into the final with a great run on the slightly slower side of the track and perfect grass cornering technique.
Bernard was just off the pace in his semi-final, just getting piped he would end in the bronze medal ride off. Hoping to get on the podium with Eddie, he attacked hard out the gate, making a small mistake when pumping a roller, he lost some time in round one. Unable to make the time back in the next round Bernard ended the event in 4th, a great but frustrating result.
All eyes turned to Eddie in the final. Not known for having the best gate starts, Eddie dropped back in the first few meters of the track. Building speed as he came down the hill and carving around the grass turns Eddie finished round one of the final only 0.003 seconds back. It was still all to play for.
With everything coming down to one run, it was a dramatic final. Eddie was going faster than ever and crossed the line with the slightest of winning margins. A nervous look behind him at the final gate got the team worried. After a judges review it could be seen that Eddie’s front wheel just came inside the final gate. A disqualification on the final gate of a final run was a bitter pill to swallow, but Eddie was stoked with Dual Slalom silver and being part of some exciting racing.
The downhill track at Innsbruck is a firm favorite with the riders. A very natural uppers section, with lots of compressions and gaps opens out to some more manmade sections with boardwalks and rock drops. Losing a bit of gradient, the final few corners are crucial to carry good speed for the sprint to the line.
The track was dry and running fast, Emilie was enjoying the natural sections and feeling fast despite a few small crashes. Bernard was looking fast through the upper turns and Matt was on track giving tips and line advice to the riders on the team.
A huge rain storm rolled in just as training ended, massive hailstones and tons of water poured down for over an hour, it would be anyone’s guess how the track would be riding come finals.
A relatively quiet day for the team saw an impromptu new event, Scrub-off. Like Whip off, it was a jam style with athletes riding at a steep jump and scrubbing off the lip trying to keep the bike as low as possible. This was the dream event for Bernard and he was loving riding and being involved in these events that pop up at Crankworx weekends.
Downhill finals were broadcast live on Redbull TV for the first time at Crankworx and with Eddie, Bernard and Emilie on the live feed they were hoping to put on a show.
Emilie hit the track looking fast, squeezing in pedal strokes anywhere she could and looking good through the trees. A tidy run but not aggressive enough left Emilie a little frustrated in 9th.
Eddie hit the track as conditions looked about perfect. Going a bit too deep on some of the jumps, he crossed the first split 2.1 seconds back. Looking very good on the final few flatter corners, Eddie finished 19th. Feeling he was hanging up and not carrying enough speed on some of the big roots he knew where to find a few seconds for next time.
Bernard was looking aggressive and committed on the upper sections of the track. Pushing hard and holding some tricky inside lines he was flying. Within touch at the first split, he came into the boardwalk section at warp speed. Missing his braking point a slight amount saw him drop his wheel off the boardwalk. Having to come to a standstill to get back on track, Bernard lost any chance of a top result but left the race feeling good on his bike and confident knowing the speed was there.