Slopestyle field up in the air

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Slopestyle organisers say this year’s event could be stacked with world class talent - or just New Zealand’s best.

Several top names are in town as they prepare for the slopestyle at Crankworx in Rotorua a week on Sunday, a diamond-level event on the FMB World Tour.

But whether they’ll turn out for big-tricks extravaganza under the lights at Ballarat Street car park this Saturday is anyone’s guess.

Event manager Fraser Gordon says: “We’re trying to lock it down.

“There’s quite of few of the top freeride world tour guys are floating around town.

“But are they going to ease into it or get their game-face on?

“Our event is only a bronze-level, so it’s whether they’ll use it to warm up or will not risk getting injured.”

NZ rider Kelly McGarry will compete. He’s become something of a household name after a YouTube clip of ballsy backflip over USA canyon at the Red Bull Rampage 2013 was viewed 24 million times.

Last year’s winner Conor Macfarlane is also signed up, along with UK hotshot Sam Reynolds. He’s the second-best British rider behind Sam Pilgrim, who won Queenstown Slopestyle in 2013.

The event’s a $5 entry this year, or $10 for families, and runs from 6pm.

McGarry is again designing the course with Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president and experienced course designer Tom Hey, who says it’ll be similar to last year.

Wholesale changes to the Dirtmasters downhill course - the gala event in the final weekend of the fest - have been shelved.

Organiser Jimmy Carling says some of the planned changes received negative feedback.

“We thought we’d try to spice it up a bit and take racers down a different part of the hill,” he says on social media.

But riders wanted the route to be more of a classic, with Rowdy Roots at its core.

“So the good news is that we’re re-designing the course and if we can pull off what we have planned then it should blow your balls off.”

The event’s finish is as usual at the Brecon St steps, with a DJ and party atmosphere from 2-4pm, Saturday.

Queenstown Mountain Bike Club hopes riders will stick around for their fundraiser at Gorge Road Jump Park on Sunday night.

The Gorge Rd Rock Jam features local bands Rules of Addiction, Silkworm and The Space Between. It’s licensed, so Atlas beer’s available onsite. It runs 5-10pm and has the lights from the slopestyle, and a best trick contest.