“It’s been a long time coming, and hopefully it keeps coming,” said Garret Mechem on his massive win at today’s razor close Speed & Style final.
The So Cal export once again proved he’s much more than a dirt jump and slopestyle specialist as he blended his effortless style with blistering speed en route to a career best result. After nearly missing the gate after the first jump, “Lil Rojo” kept it fast and loose, but managed to hang on to edge out the reigning King of Crankworx Champion on his final run.
“Might be the loosest run of my life, my bar got stuck on my knee,” said Mechem. “My plan was to not to go for the corky at the bottom, but Bas was ahead so I had to throw it down.”
It’s no secret the Santa Cruz native has been putting in work on and off the bike in an attempt to take his game to the next level. From weights and sprints, to high intensity training in and out of the saddle, Mechem has left no stone unturned with a new trainer in tow.
“It’s kind of a relief, the work paid off—finally,” said Mechem. “I’m just super focused, getting my mental game strong, trying to get in the zone before the gate drops. It seems like that’s what I need to do.”
Sharing the top step with Mechem was back-to-back women’s Speed & Style champion Harriet Burbidge-Smith. The hometown hero celebrated her 27th birthday in true “HAZ-NATION” fashion as she threw down huge, floaty backies and blazed down the hyper-fast 285m track.
“Doing flips on my birthday is probably my favourite thing. This was after all, my first birthday doing flips, so yeah, it went pretty good,” said Burbidge-Smith. “The course was fast and it got faster and faster. It was a bit slow and inconsistent on some sides (yesterday), but it got faster throughout the day”.
The Aussie trailblazer looked unstoppable throughout the day as she attacked the technical course with purpose and style, throwing down some of the biggest backflips from either category.
“The course was super good, it kept everyone on their toes,” said the Red Bull athlete. “You really had to be switched on. Especially slowing down enough to get the flips and making sure you’re not going too hot into the last jump as well—so it was a lot of thinking! I was genuinely taking one run at a time trying to make as little mistakes as possible.
Hot on the heels of today’s winners were the current leaders in the King and Queen of Crankworx standings, Bas van Steenbergen and Caroline Buchanan. The defending champions were determined not to go down without a fight as they both narrowly missed the top step, with van Steenbergen being edged out by less than a second and Buchanan not far behind coming in less than two.
Despite not taking down the crown, Buchanan had much to be thankful for today as she became the first woman in Crankworx history to put down a superman-seat grab in competition. While this was a momentous feat on its own, the Aussie local was kicking herself as it was almost a world’s first to boot.
“Super stoked but disappointed in myself at the same time,” said Buchanan. “I really wanted to get the superman-seat grab-Indian air combination on the last run, but came with the wrong speed and didn’t quite get it in the final under the race pressure.”
However the reigning champ took it all in stride as she found a silver lining in her nonetheless impressive result.
“Still pretty stoked that I got it in practice. It feels incredible,” said Buchanan. “I mean, in the moment I’m always just trying to push hard to get the win, but yeah it’s something I’ve been working on for a while. So, despite not fully being able to fully get the superman-seat grab-indian-air triple, still being able to do that Crankworx first in competition was pretty special.”
Not resting on her laurels, Buchanan is already looking ahead to the next stage of competition.
“So, personally, I can like tick that off,” said the Australian. “Leveled up, pretty happy overall with the progression and feeling a lot more confident coming into Innsbruck.”
Our second defending overall champion, Bas van Steenbergen, also had much to celebrate after a hard fought battle to the finals.
“I’m feeling pretty good, this is my best ever speed and style result,” said van Steenbergen. “It’s a great start! I’m just trying to keep it going from here, there’s still a lot more racing to go, so can’t get too excited just yet.”
Unanimously regarded as fast and technical, van Steenbergen felt the track played well into his aggressive style.
“I really dig this track! It was better for racing compared to some of the other ones, it was a bit longer and more technical which obviously I quite like.”
Rounding out the podium in 3rd place were crowd favourites Jenna Hastings and Mike Ross.
Ross proved his choice to leave his full-time profession as an electrician was a wise move as he consistently put down electric runs throughout the day putting down some of the biggest cash rolls in race history.
No less impressive, Hastings found herself on the podium in her second ever Speed & Style competition, as she gained valuable points in her pursuit of Caroline Buchanan atop the Queen of Crankworx standings.
Results: Speed & Style Cairns
Garret Mechem (USA) // Harriet Burbidge-Smith (AUS)
Bas van Steenbergen (CAN) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
Mike Ross (AUS) // Jenna Hastings (NZL)