Monster Energy’s Mitch Ropelato (USA) has taken home the win in the Air Downhill competition at Crankworx Rotorua in New Zealand.
Ropelato sprinted his way to a time of 2:11.61, less than .2 of a second in front of his nearest competitor. The 27-year old Utah native has refocused his racing career on gravity events following a few seasons of enduro, and couldn’t be happier with the way his season is getting underway.
“I’m stoked, I've never won an Air DH, said Ropelato. Training stayed the same for enduro; those boys are all super fit. I need courses I can memorize. I can’t do one run. I don’t have that Sam Hill talent to just be able to look once and go for it and kill it. I need repetitiveness in my racing life. I’m having fun though! I’ve got the downhill next, hopefully I can get some points to qualify for World Cups.”
The Air DH event features downhill, dual slalom and, to some degree, pump track, and is the catch-all category, where most racers will the do this plus something they specialize in. Held on a flowy jump trail, the goal is to keep it low and to absorb as much of the terrain as you can in order to keep the speed up.
The Air Downhill in Rotorua runs its way down the Skyline gondola, “Mr. Black” trail. Filled with berms and jumps, this track is a super fun ride if you cruise down it, but becomes a nightmare of speed control and carrying momentum under race conditions. This year’s extremely dry weather made for some tough conditions with slippery corners and loads of pedaling as the dust hung thick in the air in the jungle.
Monster Energy athletes from around the world are competing in a variety of events this week in Rotorua, continuing with the Downhill and pump track on Friday, Slopestyle on Saturday and finally the enduro event on Sunday.
The next event on most riders schedule is in Innsbruck, Austria for the next stop of the Crankworx June 12-16.