It was a double Dutch win in the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox as Joost Wichman and Anneke Beerten took out crowd favourites.
Paired with Keegan Wright (NZ), Wichman (NED) admitted it was a pretty cool feat to beat the younger Wright, a Rotorua local half his age.
But the big story of the night was in the start gate of the woman’s final as four-time women’s Crankworx Whistler Pump Track winner Jill Kintner (USA) tried a launch at the wrong angle, getting tangled in the wheel stand.
“It’s my fault, really. I should have been at a better angle, so it wasn’t really a race,” said Kintner, disappointed in the defeat.
It took officials several minutes to decide whether the snag warranted a rematch and the crowd gathered seemed to revel in the suspense of the ruling. Periodically doing the Mexican wave around the tiered amphitheatre-a first for a Crankworx Pump Track-the dirt stadium was humming with anticipation over whether the mistake would be ruled a malfunction.
In the end, it was decided Kintner had erred and, as Beerten had already defeated her in the first round of their pairing, Beerten was happy with the win.
“Pump Track is such a cool thing to do. The whole vibe here and taking the win is amazing,” said Beerten. “The crowd were all wild and loud, and it’s amazing to have them in Rotorua and to be riding in Rotorua. It’s just sick.”
Wichman echoed her sentiments, noting his win has been a long-term goal.
“I organise Pump Track races myself in the Netherlands and Germany, so it’s actually cool to win one at Crankworx. I’ve been trying for a couple of years now to win one in Whistler or France, so it’s cool,” he said.
Rotorua local, Wright, was a crowd favourite with everyone chanting his name as he made it through to the finals.
“I’m stoked, I didn’t even think I was going to make it to the finals – I thought I was going to get beaten on the first one, so I’m stoked ay,” said Wright.
“I just went out and had fun. The crowd was really good, they helped me heaps to get pumped up and get going, it’s been just sick vibes all weekend. There’s a good community of biking in Rotorua, everyone knows everyone. It’s cool.”
Third place finishers, Frenchman Tomas Lemoine and New Zealand’s Sarah Walker, each waged valiant battles, with Lemoine narrowly defeating Walker Shaw (USA) and (Sarah) Walker proving triumphant over Luana Oliveria (BRA).
Sarah Walker, 2012 BMX Olympic silver medallist, said she was relieved to stay on as it was the first time she’d ridden mountain bikes in six years, falling and hitting her knee twice during the week making it swollen.
“I was a little bit cautious, we’ve got National Champs for BMX next weekend in Christchurch, so that’s important. I was in that semi final with Anneke, I won the first one and I was quite surprised about that, in the second one I missed the start and it was not worth pushing it – I have to think about the big picture, Rio, this is just a bit of fun,” she said.
Walker was also said it was great to see so many people in Rotorua supporting the event.
“It’s weird, I’ve been to how many races in my BMX life and this crowd is actually one of the best crowds I’ve ever raced in front of, even in BMX. They’re making it really cool.
“Especially for the international guys coming over, they’re making a good impression of New Zealand.”
Final standings for the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox:
Pro Women’s Results:
1. Anneke BEERTEN (NED)
2. Jill KINTNER (USA)
3. Sarah WALKER (NZL)
Pro Men’s Results
1. Joost WICHMAN (NED)
2. Keegan WRIGHT (NZL)
3. Tomas LEMOINE (FRA)