Mountain biking superstar Brandon Semenuk (CAN) solidified his spot in the record books today – his first place finish in Red Bull Joyride marks his sixth podium finish in Crankworx slopestyle competition and his third first place finish in the event, a feat that has never before been accomplished.
“I’m so pumped. It’s insane to just win this event, nevermind doing it back-to-back,” said Semenuk, who’s won three out of the last four Red Bull Joyrides – the 23-year-old first won in 2011, then again in 2013.
Semenuk’s winning run came in the first half of competition. Riding last, he pulled off a near-flawless performance that started with a backflip one-foot can and included a massive backflip double-whip, a perfect cork 720 and ended with another of the same off the step-down.
Riding into the finish corral, there was little doubt in the minds of those watching that his run was going to be the one to beat. His 96.80 was enough to push him past Brett Rheeder (CAN) who had just completed a stellar 94.20 run, to the top step.
“Brett’s run was so good. I was so worried about beating it myself,” said Semenuk. “It was insane.”
Many were saying that Semenuk and Rheeder’s runs from today were two of the best runs ever seen in slopestyle history. Semenuk takes home a cheque for $25,000 for the win, the highest prize purse in the mountain biking world.
Rounding out the all-Canadian podium was the winner of the year’s first Diamond Series slopestyle event, the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes Slopestyle. Anthony Messere (CAN) pulled off a tight first run that had him sitting in third place going into the second half. His podium finish seemed in jeopardy after Logan Peat (CAN) pulled off a strong performance on his second run that bumped him from fifth to third with an 83.80.
“I tend to not think about other dude’s runs,” said Messere, who said he focused on his own run rather than thinking about the strong scores that were already on the leader board. “As soon as you get that first run down to the bottom you get that big boost of confidence, so it definitely helped.”
Messere dug deep into this bag of tricks, pulling out a huge run that included a double truck driver and a backflip barspin. In the end he narrowly edged out Peat with a score of 84.00.
Overall, the day contained some of the most epic performances in slopestyle history. Close to 30,000 spectators descended upon Whistler to watch it all gone down live, the biggest crowd in the event’s history. What’s more, this year’s event carried a sense of stoke amongst the riders who seemed to truly embrace the 2014 course.
“It was a rad event. Definitely some high-level slopestyle,” said Semenuk. “Such a good course. Basically allowed the riders to get next-level with the tricks.”
The buzz around the course had been consistent among riders all week, with some saying it was the best slopestyle course ever – a dozen trickable features throughout the Boneyard gave riders the ability to truly make it their own and showcase their talent.
Mother nature also leant a helping hand – much of this year’s Crankworx competitions took place in uncharacteristically dusty conditions. Whistler hadn’t seen rain in a month, but two days prior to today’s contest the streak ended, leaving behind a course with a near-perfect level of moisture and ideal traction.
As for the all-Canadian podium?
Semenuk: “It’s because Canada’s the best!”
Rheeder: “Best country in the world.”
While Canada may be all the buzz in the mountain biking world, Crankworx made a big announcement today about the next step for the festival. Organizers unveiled that Crankworx will be kicking off the competitive mountain biking season March 25-29, 2015 in Rotorua, New Zealand. The announcement was made during the half-time break of Red Bull Joyride. Adding a third stop to the Crankworx circuit means the festival will be creating a triple-crown of slopestyle, as well as three and four-race series’ for several other events.
As for Crankworx Whistler, the final day of competition for 2014 wraps up tomorrow. The final prizes to be awarded will be for the winners of the Canadian Open DH, and for the winningest athletes of the year – two competitors will be awarded the title of King and Queen of Crankworx based on their performances over the past 10 days.
For now, the sun sets on another year of slopestyle action at Crankworx Whistler, a year that many will likely remember as the best in the event’s history to date.
1. Brandon Semenuk
2. Brett Rheeder
3. Anthony Messere