As the opening event of the first ever Blue Mountain PedalFest, Friday night’s Whip It contest kicked the mountain bike festival off with a bang. Riders from all corners of Ontario turned up to get sideways on the contest booter, in hopes of taking home the winner-take-all $500 prize purse.
The format was a NCAA March Madness-esque bracket, which pitted riders one-on-one against each other. Starting from 20 riders, there were two bracket rounds, after which there remained 5 finalists, who then got the opportunity to really hang it all out there and show the anxious crowd their best whip. The contest also saw two women compete. Jennifer Valentine and Jenn LeBlanc came out to test themselves and compete against the boys. Well done ladies!
It could not have been a more beautiful evening. The sun was shining over the crest of the escarpment, casting a glow on the lip of the jump. The air was crisp, and there was a certain electricity in the air of anticipation for the forthcoming events. As soon as the clock struck 6:00 pm, riders began to hike their bikes up the hill for practice, and thus a “session” was born. A crowd began to gather at the foot of the finish corral.
Blue Mountain local and International man of mystery Chris Wall was on the mic keeping the crowd and the riders pumped up with some interesting commentary, and some old school flavor blaring through the speakers.
By 7:00 pm, the names had been drawn, the brackets had been created, and the competitors were sitting at the top, anxious to compete.
The first round saw some dramatic action, with local favorites Sam Measures and Tyler Maxwell getting knocked out. The danger man appeared to be the relatively unknown Steve Wells, who impressed in the first round with a gigantic whip to move on swiftly with out much thought from the judges.
In the second round, Primary Racing’s Graeme Duff faced off against Jamie Tice, in what turned out to be an exciting heat. The two dropped in together, with Tice taking the edge and moving on to the final round. Steve Wells also continued his dominance, showing that the first round was no fluke. Nick Outram, Bryce Kiberd, and the über stylish Ben Reasbeck all also moved on to the final round.
And then there were five.
Bryce Kiberd put forth a valiant effort in the first finals heat, only to fall short and be eliminated by the other heavy hitting finalists. After much deliberation from the judges, and a little bit of help from the crowd, the final two matchups were as follows:
Ben Reasbeck vs. Jamie Tice
Nick Outram vs. Steve Wells
The battle for the championship was a clash of two very different styles; Ben Reasbeck keeping it low, smooth and stylish and Jamie Tice boosting big, often landing to flat. The judges reached a split decision, and looked to the crowd to give their input as to who should be crowned the undisputed style master of Ontario. In the end, it was the steezy Ben Reasbeck who narrowly took the win, and the $500 dollar reward. Steve Wells took third, and Nick Outram settled for fourth.
The event was the first of it’s kind in Ontario, and was the type of event we, as a community, deserve more of. It was a refreshing change of pace from the racing scene, and allowed for riders to experience something different than the traditional competitive atmosphere.
After the dust had settled, Ben Reasbeck gave his counterpart in the finals $100 of his winnings, in an act of respect for his opponent. Winnings were used on rounds at the bar afterwards, as the competitors of the day basked in the afterglow of a great afternoon on the bike.
Here is a breakdown of the heats with winners: