Good times all round for local Matt Walker

Good times all round for local Matt Walker

Fast trails and a good-time vibe left athletes smiling as they pulled in from a pedal-heavy GIANT Toa Enduro and the whip cranked the crowd into a frenzy to cap the opening night of Crankworx Rotorua.

New Zealand’s Matt Walker proved the unexpected victor late, sealing the deal on the final stage, after placing eighth the year before.

“I was hoping for maybe a top 10 or top five, but to win is a bit of a surprise. I’ve been putting in quite a bit of hard work in the off season now and I guess it’s paying off, so I’m really happy,” said Walker. “It’s been a hard day, quite long tracks and it hasn’t suited my preparation, I guess, but I’m stoked on how today has gone. I’ve been having a lot of fun—it’s good times all round.”

Sharing the limelight, 2015 Queen of Crankworx Anneke Beerten (Netherlands) proved her mettle, charging in to win with royal confidence.

Beerten admitted she is thrilled to have the monkey off her back, so to speak, with a win worthy of her 2015 success right out of the gate. She even dubbed the rough, off-camber trail of K2 easy, saying it was relaxing as it was short, making it less physically taxing for her. Overall, the day left her challenged, but happy and she definitely took a shine to finish at Skyline Gravity Park.

“Really physical, long, not a lot of flow at the bottom, so you had to work pretty hard,” she said coming into the finish line. “I thought it was pretty cool… We had enough time between transfers. It was nice, with the whole group of girls we had riding together, the vibe was amazing.”

The Oceania Whip-Off Championships presented by Spank finished out the night on a high note. Event judge Sven Martin, noted the purpose-built jump really pushed the riders and lead to some pretty amazing sideways actions with a big step-up, built for more risk, higher pop, and a sweet berm at the end to skid and spray the spectators.

“Every year it gets crazier and this was maybe the craziest year,” he said.