ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND March 26, 2023 — The final day of Crankworx Rotorua brings the fans a 2 for 1 special, starting the day off with Dual Slalom Rotorua in the morning, before the festival finale – Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza.
With dual slalom qualifiers happening earlier in the week, it was an interesting turn of events to see how the top Elite Women and Men qualifiers would end up on finals day. With a few changes to the flagging positions, the dual slalom track that many of these riders raced only a few short months ago brought some new challenges into the mix. The flat corners are indisputably tricky on this track as the ruts develop throughout the rounds. Minimal depth and about a tire width in size, the ruts leave little security for riders testing the limits of traction. Battling through these flat corners required extreme precision and made the difference for where the race was won or lost.
Arguably the wildest final in dual slalom history, Burbidge-Smith and Gill were pushing hard on the final flat corners resulting in a Crankworx-first double DSQ after both riders missed gates. After serious review, Burbidge-Smith ended up taking the gold after a long day of putting together fast and clean laps.
“It feels good,” The Australian Red Bull rider said. “Super battling after Speed & Style yesterday, having a pretty big off. I had to be cleared to race today because I hit my head pretty hard, but Dr. Euan cleared me all good, so that was good. I was definitely sore this morning and I am glad that they pushed the race out quickly because I couldn’t stop otherwise my legs were going to start cramping up. It felt good and I had a good time in the first run. After that we both missed flags in the second run, I was glad I got a good time from the first one.”
In the men’s final, it was the Rotorua local Tuhoto-Ariki Pene against Australia’s own Jackson Frew. Pene came into the second round with a slight lead, but a slide out on the flat corners at the bottom gave the number 1 qualifier and last years’ Crankworx Rotorua Dual Slalom winner, Jackson Frew the win.
“I feel relieved,” Frew said of the gold medal match-up against Pene. “I qualified first and I didn’t really expect that. I was kind of just hoping to put a solid couple of runs down and just kind of build through the day and then having that big break in the middle, I was super tired from all the other events, so I wasn’t really sure how I was going to stack up so I just kept punching laps out, cranking through and got a bit lucky in the end there but that’s racing. Fair play to Tuhoto but I’m relieved.”
Local Jenna Hastings would take the final step on the Elite Women’s podium after putting together blistering laps all day, closing the gap to Caroline Buchanan in the chase for the Queen of Crankworx title. Bas van Steenbergen would round off the podium and give him the overall points lead for the King of Crankworx title.
“Stoked to be coming out of here with the King of Crankworx lead again. That feels really good. I was feeling a little bit off all week and to come out with the lead is a nice moral victory.”
Pro Women Results
- Harriet BURBIDGE-SMITH
- Martha GILL
- Jenna HASTINGS
- Shania RAWSON
- Kialani HINES
- Louise FERGUSON
- Caroline BUCHANAN
- Jess BLEWITT