A familiar sight in unfamiliar territory tonight, as reigning Queen of Crankworx Jill Kintner (USA) takes the win in the inaugural 100% Dual Slalom Rotorua, alongside Tomas Slavik (CZE).

Tonight’s win marks the sixth consecutive win in the discipline at Crankworx for Kintner, who’s claimed the top step every year in Whistler since 2013. As for Slavik, he won in Whistler in 2016 and 2017, making tonight a three-peat in Crankworx Dual Slalom competition.

Jill Kintner. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

But while the Queen prevailed, the battles were tight. Second place finisher Kialani Hines (USA) proved a worthy opponent for Kintner, finishing just 0.28 seconds behind her in the first heat and 0.85 in the second.

“There was fierce competition today,” said Kintner. “It’s cool to see such talented ladies from all disciplines, and a few fresh faces.”

One such face was Tahnée Seagrave (GBR).

“I snapped my chain in the semis. I would’ve liked to have made it into the final with Jill ” Tahnee explained, “It would have been sweet, but there’s always another one.”

For Australian Danni Beecroft’s first race here in Rotorua, riding a full suspension Pivot Mach 5.5 against the hardtails of the other female competitors, a great effort to end up 4th after facing Tahnee in the small final, just outside the bronze medal. Danni’s BMX origins evident in the holeshot off the gate in Run 2 of the small final, but not enough to keep Tahnee from taking the win.

Danni on track with Jill in the Semis. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

Competition on the men’s side was arguably even more fierce, with a who’s who of international mountain bike competitors spanning all ages and disciplines, including Mick Hannah (AUS), Kaos Seagrave (GBR), Barry Nobles (USA), Darren Berrecloth (CAN), Adrien Loron (FRA), and Bas van Steenbergen (CAN).

Barry Nobles. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

“This is what’s really special about Crankworx,” said Slavik. “This is the place where we meet together and we race against each other…this is pretty unique and pretty special. And the racing was amazing today. There were so many fast guys. Really hard race.”

The Big Final on the Pro Men’s side came down to Slavik and Kyle Strait (USA), who had won all his heats to that point, save one against Matt Walker (NZL). Slavik would take both rounds.

Tomas Slavik. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton
Kyle Strait fresh in his DHaRCO kit vs Brook Macdonald. Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

The battle for third came down to the wire. Luca Cometti (USA) and Walker traded wins, but in the end, Cometti edged out Walker by 0.09 seconds.

The track itself featured four distinct sections: berms, rollers and rhythm, then flat corners, finishing with a table top before racers crossed the finish line into a sea of groms looking for fist bumps and autographs. Slavik said the style of the Rotorua track added to the rivalries.

“You had to go without any mistakes,” said Slavik. “You had to go super fast, 110%, which is what Dual Slalom is all about. It was amazing.”

A crowd of nearly 1500 local and international fans came out to watch the action go down on the all-new track, built by trailbuilders Empire of Dirt as a legacy project for the community in Rotorua.

“I’m really happy that we’re bringing more Dual Slalom competitions into Crankworx,” Slavik added. “It’s like old-school and new-school stuff coming together, which is really working. People are loving it and the riders are loving it.”

There was also a few legends of the sport out on track yesterday with some old-school freeriders thrown in the mix…

Freeride legend Tyler McCaul / Photo Baxter Maiwald
“Freeracer” Bas Van Steenburgen (right) dueling freeride legend Darren Berrecloth. Photo Baxter Maiwald

On the Aussie men’s side, Mick Hannah made a return to Dual Slalom racing but unfortunately had a tough draw, going down to Brook Macdonald in the 1/8 finals, by only 0.02s in run 1 and 0.26s in round 2. However he walks away with a few crucial points to add to following his 3rd place result in the Redwoods DH.

Sik Mik / Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

In the Amateur/Open 19+ category, young Aussie Baxter Maiwald scored the win as well amongst some heavy competition.

Photo credit Crankworx / Fraser Britton

Today the Air DH at Skyline Rotorua kicks off, with many more opportunities for the Aussies!

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