This year’s Crankworx Rotorua Mountain Bike Festival begins today, but there will be no spectators at the event.
Some of the world’s best in the field will be attending the event this week after up to 70 people received MIQ group allowance earlier this year.
To be eligible for the group allowance, a group must have a sponsoring government agency, need more than 20 rooms, have a time sensitive element to their visit, and must enter as a single unit.
With the Delta variant currently in the community across New Zealand, including a recent scare at Rotorua Airport, the decision was made not to allow spectators.
“In the interest of protecting all the athletes, the team, the volunteers and our community at large, this year’s Rotorua-based festival will be broadcast only, with no spectators on site,” said a statement from the organizers of the. event.
Another element towards eligibility for the MIQ group allowance is that the group must be a government priority.
If the group visit is of national interest, economic impact, or in the interest of national security, it may be considered a government priority.
While the absence of fans may very well lessen some of the economic impact, the event will still gain a large audience online and the continued hosting of the event in New Zealand could be considered to be in. national interest.
“The worldwide live broadcast offers the unique chance to showcase Rotorua and New Zealand as the premier mountain biking destination on the world stage,” a statement from Crankworx said.
“Last year the number of live views reached 1.1 million and that is expected to increase this year with the border closures and our current alert levels.
“Fans will be able to attend live and behind the scenes at five broadcast events and digital channels from Crankworx Rotorua.”
The group assignment process for MIQ began in February 2021 and saw groups like the Blackcaps, the US Antarctic Program, and the New Zealand Defense Force receive isolation assignments.
Although fans are not expected at the event, Waka Kotahi NZTA is still advising that there may be delays this week in the SH5 Fairy Springs Rd area in Old Taupo Rd, Rotorua.
“Please drive carefully and allow extra time for your trip,” a spokesperson for Waka Kotahi said.
International runners, such as Frenchman Paul Couderc, secured entry from New Zealand to the event. Clint Trahan.
This is the last stop in the current Crankworx cycle and includes events such as the King and Queen of Crankworx, the Crankworx Slopestyle FMBA World Champion and the elusive Triple Crown of Slopestyle up for grabs.
International competitors Marcel Hunt, Bernd Winkler and Lukas Schäfer are all preparing for their first Slopestyle competition at this level of competition.
Frenchman Paul Couderc is hoping to get his first glimpse of the final in Rotorua. He was on the start list for the 2020 event but suffered an injury in training.
“Last year I had a really bad slam an hour before the final so I couldn’t participate,” Courderc explains of the Rotorua competition in 2020.
“This year I’m coming back and I’m so excited to do this course because it’s such a fun course. The only thing is I have a broken ligament on my wrist. I did this at Crankworx in Canada. It’s actually quite painful. I didn’t even drive until I came here. So, I’ll try to do my best, but it’s a weird situation for me. I’m really really motivated to do my tricks. I’ll do my best.”
This year the progression is underway for women freeride at Crankworx. So much so that when they launched Speed & Style at Crankworx Innsbruck earlier this year, they blew the list of tricks out of the water.
“The women had come so far since our last women’s speed and style competition in 2020 in Rotorua that the tricks list was out of date,” Crankworx World Tour athletic director Nicole Freeman said with local favorite Robin Goomes in watch out, having completed the first back flip in the Crankworx competition earlier this year.
“They were throwing tricks that we didn’t previously have on the women’s speed and style tricks list, because nobody was doing them in competition,” says Freeman.
“They pushed the sport, so we’ve updated our list of tips to reflect that.
“We’re excited to see what the ladies bring to the Speed & Style table in Rotorua. ”
The Rotorua Pump Track course. Photo. Kike Abelleira.
New Zealand will rely heavily on Sam Blenkinsop, George Brannigan, Brook Macdonald and Casey Brown downhill.
Crankworx Rotorua runs November 1-7 and the action can be caught on Red Bull TV.