Not even a reoccurring knee injury could keep Vernon’s Vaea Verbeeck from the Dual Slalom win at Crankworx Whistler on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 9.
After dominating the field in the early rounds of the tournament-style event, Verbeeck’s knee—an injury she has been dealing with all year—started to flare up again, making the last few rounds a bit messier than she would have liked.
Fortunately, she still managed to grind out a win in the semi-finals against Louise Ferguson, leading to a final match-up against American rider Jordy Scott.
Unfortunately, disaster struck for Scott in the first of two finals runs, falling on the top section, giving Verbeeck the chance for the easy win, assuming she put down two clean runs—and the Canadian made no mistake.
“Obviously that’s not how you want finals to go,” said Verbeeck. “But at the same time, it was such a relief for me. I had been so messy with my performances, with the injury just getting more aggravating as the day went on, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. So I’ll definitely take a bit of relief before going into finals. Honestly, it’s been a really tough and long day.”
Verbeeck, who currently is in the lead for her second straight Queen of Crankworx title, with a few more events in Whistler and two more stops on the tour still to go, is focusing on one race at a time while dealing with the injury.
Throughout the rest of Crankworx Whistler, Verbeeck will compete in three more events including Pump Track, Speed and Style and the Canadian Open Downhill race to end the week on Sunday. With so much racing still to go, Verbeeck thinks giving her knee time to recover will be key to getting as many valuable overall points as possible.
“I have Pump Track tomorrow, Speed and Style the following day, but there is also Speed and Style practice tomorrow morning,” she said on Tuesday. “So I might have to skip that so I can sleep in, do a proper recovery and make sure my knee is fresh to maybe try to salvage some points at Pump Track, which is not my forte, but I do want to get as many points as I can for the overall standings. And then Speed and Style, hopefully I’ll be healthy for that one.”
On the men’s side, in a hotly contested semi-finals match, two-time reigning King of Crankworx Bas van Steenbergen fell to eventual winner Bernard Kerr, before following it up with a come-from-behind win to take the bronze against Australia’s Jackson Frew.
“I was honestly really happy. I was so close to Bernard, that could have gone either way. We both made a couple little mistakes, so yeah, I’ll take third. That’s a hard-fought race, for sure,” said van Steenbergen.
In the finals, Kerr faced off against American rider Joey Foresta, and managed to edge out the victory in another tightly-contested race.
Luckily for van Steenbergen, who is on the quest for his third straight King of Crankworx title, the current second-place rider, Mick Hannah, who won Monday’s Air DH race, fell out of the competition one round earlier, giving van Steenbergen the much-needed point advantage.
“Obviously that sucks for him, but nice for me to build a bit more of a buffer. And then Jackson’s pretty close by, too, so getting the win over him was pretty important,” he said. “I’m kinda focusing on the war and not the battles.”
Like Verbeeck, van Steenbergen will also be competing in Wednesday’s Pump Track race, followed by Speed and Style on Thursday and the Canadian Open Downhill on Sunday. He is aiming to build as many points as he can before the last two stops of the tour in Cairns, Australia in October and Rotorua, New Zealand in November.