Jill Kintner left it all out on the dirt today, running a smooth and calculated race on Skyline Rotorua’s Mr. Black trail and reclaiming the top podium spot in the Crankworx Rotorua Air DH, and the top spot in the race to claim the Queen of Crankworx title in 2018.

“I was pretty fired up after last year,” said Kintner, who missed the top step in 2017 by +0.09 seconds. “I sprinted a lot harder and knew exactly where I touched my brakes at every part and just stuck to my little practice plan.”

2017’s race belonged to Vaea Verbeeck. This year she and Kintner swapped, with just +01.88 between them. Danni Beecroft’s Pivot teammate, Emilie Siegenthaler rounded out the top three.

“This whole track is about being on the right edges, knowing which jumps are too short, which ones are long and then where you can pedal and where you brake,” said Kintner. “It’s about executing as precisely as you can. It’s fairly easy to ride, but to race it’s a completely different game. Very strategic.”

Australia’s Danni Beecroft came in 8th in the Elite Women’s.

Jill Kintner. Photo Credit Crankworx / Jill Kintner

In the Pro Men’s category, a similar shuffle took place, with 2017’s winner Matt Walker bringing in the second fastest time of the day this year, followed by Tomas Slavik, who also takes one step down his result last year, ending his day in third place.

The usurper? Mick Hannah. Hannah stormed the track this year, laying down a 2:08.96, +00.72 ahead of Walker, seizing the win.

Sik Mik, Laser focus to the win. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

“It was just perfect conditions,” said Hannah, a well-known fixture on the Crankworx Downhill circuit. “On this track you just have to maintain a really good, smooth line all the way. Lay down the pedals when you can and conserve energy you can. It all went to plan and I had a great run.”

Despite losing his claim to the top step of the Air DH podium, Walker was pleased to walk away with some valuable points toward the King of Crankworx title.

“After the Enduro I was absolutely toast,” explained Walker, who placed third in the Giant Toa Enduro presented by CamelBak on the first day of competition, then followed that up with a fifth in the Redwoods DH and a fourth in the 100% Dual Slalom Rotorua. “I’ve had a few rest days. But went surfing when I probably shouldn’t have. But you just gotta keep trucking along, having a bit of fun along the way.”

NZ’s Matt Walker. Photo Crankworx / Fraser Britton

For the Aussie Elite Men, the Air DH was hotly contested with the top 20 men all being within 10 seconds of the winner. Dean Lucas came in 8th, 3.2s behind Mick. Jackson Frew was 17th, 7.8s behind the winner, Michael Williams 20th and Baxter Maiwald 21st.

In the other categories for Aussie riders, NSW’s Cassie Voysey had a win in the Youth Women’s category, winning in her first international race with a time of 2:38, a solid start to her Crankworx visit! Luke Meier-Smith came in with a 4th in the Youth Men’s category.

Tomorrow sees the running of the Pumptrack Challenge followed by a big day on Friday with the Hipster DH race, Speed & Style and Whip-Off!

Words: Crankworx & Gravity Down Under
Photos: Crankworx / Fraser Britton & Instagram supplied