No Men Riding At Crankworx Slopestyle Rotorua. What’s Going On?

by 3

It’s all blowing up somewhat in the southern hemisphere right now as the male category pro riders have announced they will not be riding on Sunday in the slopestyle event due to an ongoing dispute with the event organisers. The inaugural women’s Slopestyle event will go ahead as planned.

So what’s this all about?

Statements have been issued on both sides (below) giving the suitably diplomatic explanations but with the addition of a self declared rant from a previous Crankworx organiser and founder on LinkdIn it looks like it comes down to money, safety and facilities for the pro riders being the crux of the dispute. We don’t have any more info beyond what the various parties have officially put out so here are those statements, including the ‘rant’ from previous owner and event founder Mark Taylor.

What is Crankworx?

The official event statement

Crankworx wishes to inform our fans, participants, and the wider community of recent developments regarding the upcoming Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship event scheduled for this Sunday. 

The male competitors of the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship event on Sunday, March 24, have decided not to participate in this year’s competition. This decision came after a series of negotiations aimed at addressing Rider requests around

Please find the full statement and the press release recording below

Rotorua, New Zealand – 23 March 2024 – Crankworx wishes to inform our fans, participants, and the wider community of recent developments regarding the upcoming Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship event scheduled for this Sunday. 

The male competitors of the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship event on Sunday, March 24, have decided not to participate in this year’s competition. This decision came after a series of negotiations aimed at addressing Rider requests around remuneration and support infrastructure.

We are committed to delivering an exceptional experience at Crankworx Rotorua, with a full schedule of events still set to go ahead. This includes the first ever Women’s Diamond Level Slopestyle World Championship event, along with other competitive and community events that celebrate the rich culture of mountain biking, giving the next generation a platform to ride and compete. 

The flagship event for Crankworx 2024 – the monumental Diamond Level Women’s Slopestyle World Championship event, will proceed as planned. We look forward to showcasing their talent and passion for the sport. 

We respect the athletes’ decision and remain committed to fostering a positive and supportive environment for all athletes within the Crankworx community. While we have been listening, onsite feedback has shown that some male Slopestyle athletes feel that their voices have not being heard by the event organizers when it comes to weather and course build decisions. Crankworx is committed to giving all athletes a stage and decision-making power by establishing frameworks and processes as well as continuing to have an open line of communication between the riders and the Crankworx management team. Despite a 10% increase in prize money from 2023 to 2024 for Crankworx Rotorua, and similar increases for other Crankworx World Tour festivals, the athletes also demanded the establishment of an appearance fee for all male athletes as well as another significant raise of the prize money across all Crankworx World Tour festivals. Whilst the Crankworx World Tour agreed to an additional prize money raise for Crankworx Rotorua, bringing it to a 37% increase (compared to 2023) after conversations and negotiations with the athletes, this offer has been refused and countered by the male athletes. Given the structure of the Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) and the framework the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship operates in as a professional sport, Crankworx cannot effectuate an appearance fee or an additional prize money increase as demanded by the male athletes.

We know many will be disappointed that the men’s category of the event will not proceed as planned. Crankworx Rotorua extends its gratitude to our partners, volunteers, and the wider mountain biking community for their continued support. We remain dedicated to the sport of mountain biking and to delivering events that reflect the passion, unity, and incredible talent of our global community. 

Linky to statement

Riders’ Statement

“Dear fans and supporters of Slopestyle.

As you will have heard, we, as the full field of male Slopestyle riders at Crankwor Rotorua, have made a joint, but very tough, decision to not take part in the official competition tomorrow. But we will be at the event in full support of the girls as they make history, with the first ever female Diamond Slopestyle event. We will also be riding the McGazza train and out there for our fans.

Today has been a tough day and there have been plenty of questions about why we aren’t riding and why this decision was made now. We all came to Rotora with the full intention to start our season, commit fully to this amazing event and ride to our full potential. So why aren’t we riding?

The short answer; we want to secure a stable and sustainable future for Slopestyle – including the current and future generation of riders. This decision was made to ensure a minimum industry standard is achieved moving forward with rider welfare, safety, compensation, but also communication and decision-making established. Not just singularly for the Crankworx Rotora event, but for the whole Crankworx and FMB World Tour.

Unfortunately, after years of negotiations, countless meetings, and many letters today we have finally decided to take a stand for the benefits of all Slopestyle riders and the sport. This timeline is not what we hoped for. At this stage we won’t be discussing the specifics of the conditions we requested from Crankworx as an organisation, as we don’t believe this is the right place or time to do so.

But we want it known that this is not a ‘shakedown’ for compensation – it’s bigger than that.

Specifically we have raised the following issues as critical:

Safe competition conditions:

As riders we always want to put on the best possible show and competition. As we’re putting our bodies on the line we believe our requests and feedback on competition timings and practice sessions have been ignored, and once again we weren’t being heard. This is not isolated to a single year or event, and there have been ongoing issues over many years.

Basic rider welfare and participation costs

In the past we’ve come together as a group of riders to personally fund flights for upcoming riders / alternates. We believe in putting on a show with a full field and having a healthy Slopestyle rider collective – we love pushing each other and being pushed by the new blood. But how does new blood make it onto the circuit if they can’t even afford to show what they can throw down?

This year there has been a major reduction in accommodation/ lodging support for riders. Due to the event locations many riders simply aren’t able to accept their rightful invitation to compete. Rider welfare is basic at best, and when there’s a buffet for the Crankworx members but absolutely no catering at all for the riders, something is drastically wrong.

These are events that we ride in, risk our bodies and careers on, and are a key drawcard for and we believe we should have a seat at the table.

Now is the time for change – time after time we’ve either been ignored, denied or simply not taken seriously which has left us with no other option but to make a point the only way we can.

We have felt disrespected and unheard when all we’ve requested is simple support for all riders.

We love this event, we love Rotorua and the fans. We hope that we can find a resolution with Crankworx and FMB to continue the growth of Slopestyle, to showcase incredible riding, and to continue creating amazing memories for fans of mountain biking across the world.”

Riders post on Instagram

Founder Mark Taylor’s ‘rant’

“Rant Alert: I retired from the Crankworx World Tour at the end of the 2022 season after my 20th year of working on the project. As a co-founder of the tour and former co-owner, I am completely disheartened by the male slopestyle athlete’s decision to not participate in the 2024 season’s kick-off event in Rotorua. Holding last minute negotiations to get appearance fees and increased prize money after traveling to the event already knowing what the prize money status was (up 37% from last year’s Slopestyle contest at Rotorua) is a hijack move. The current owners of the tour are not major corporations with the ability to throw money around at a whim. They have risked so much personally to maintain a global tour for a niche sport and to have the athletes show this level of disrespect is so disappointing. The world of sports marketing is an endless treadmill of chasing sponsors, building upon past success and working through major obstacles with local venues, governments, broadcasters – it truly is a thankless job and the riders are being completely irresponsible in not trying to find solutions to bring more money to the sport constructively. A walk-out like this is a stunt & while you may have made a statement, you now only throw into flux the ability for the tour to find sponsors to support your events. You should be collaborating and not undermining. After 30-years of acton sports event marketing, I have seen events that don’t have the riders backs and know that with Crankworx, there is not another tour or event in the world that doesn’t have the riders interests at this level of consideration as CEI does. Back in the day we had Bearclaw, McGazza, McRae, Semenuk, Rheeder, Zink & many more who all had a lot to say, both negative and positive, but would always work collaboratively to grow the events….and it has grown every year with that collaborative attitude – until now. A stunt like this by a generation of riders who have no understanding of where this sport has come from in a relatively very short time is going to leave a stain. The current ownership structure couldn’t be more aligned for your success and continuation of building the sport. If you squeeze, their is nothing more to give and you’ll risk the tour being sold and the only buyers would be people who would definitely be looking to take every penny of profit and be far less suited to grow the athletes interests. To pull this at an event that is named “in memory of McGazza” is a huge slap in the face to his legacy too. He was the BEST athlete I have ever worked with – would get up to travel to 6am morning shows, do every media request, work on the course building and always be so full of stoke and positivity. FMBA athletes now are acting like Gen Z stereotypes now and hope they will get some strong messages from the fans, industry, sponsors & local organizers community that are supporting them.”

Mark’s Post

So, er.. What now?

So while the riders are keen to point out that this is not just about the money but also safety and respect we have a founder (Caveat – he’s no longer involved with the event) saying it’s all about ego’s and ‘Gen Z arrogance’ – While in the middle we have the actual organisers being as diplomatic as we’d expect them to be seeing as the event is going off right now with lots of sponsors watching.

We’ll be watching closely to see what happens next and will be doing that journo thing of ‘reaching out’ to see if we can find out more of the details. There’s more Crankworx events on the calendar of course as it heads to Cairns, Innsbruck and then the event’s original home of Whistler, so there’s a lot to be sorted out and rather quickly we’d expect.

I’m sure you will let us know what you think in the comments below and on that there’s already a thread on this issue started by user Frogstomp here

Author Profile Picture
Mark Alker

Singletrack Owner/Publisher

What Mark doesn’t know about social media isn’t worth knowing and his ability to balance “The Stack” is bested only by his agility on a snowboard. Graphs are what gets his engine revving, at least they would if his car wasn’t electric, and data is what you’ll find him poring over in the office. Mark enjoys good whisky, sci-fi and the latest Apple gadget, he is also the best boss in the world (Yes, he is paying me to write this).

More posts from Mark

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • No Men Riding At Crankworx Slopestyle Rotorua. What’s Going On?
  • scotroutes
    Full Member
    Full Member

    Already linked to that thread in the story there Scot.

    Free Member

    It’s such a small niche within a relative niche Im sure the riders In  there bubbles think there as big as f1 drivers to there fans but I can’t help think there actions now at this stage has just put a nail in the coffin of slopestyle.

    The revenue it generates is minimal yet the costs on putting on the show are huge.

    I really do think they should of gone about this differently


Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.