As the 10th anniversary of Crankworx came to its apex at the Red Bull Joyride Slopestyle competition, expectations ran high for born-and-raised Whistler-local Brandon Semenuk to reclaim his title as champion.
Winning the slopestyle in 2011, Semenuk crashed out in last year's competition on a course that saw more carnage than completed runs. With a full overhaul of the Joyride course this year, riders were stoked on the course flow and given ample opportunity to showcase their dirt-jumping trickery.
“The course looked really good to everybody,” said 22-year-old Semenuk, “There were lots of opportunities for big tricks pretty much all the way down. This was the best course yet, longer than most, but everything flowed super good and we were able to do a lot of tricks the whole way down.”
At the end of the day it was Semenuk who stood on top of the podium and became $25,000 richer with a near-flawless run and a score of 96.4 in front of the home crowd — the highest score ever recorded at a Joyride event.
Crashing on his first run at the final feature, attempting a trick called the flip-whip that's been plaguing him for years, Semenuk went into the final run in seventh spot and with all of the pressure of being the home-town favourite on his shoulders.
“I felt a lot of pressure on me. All of my friends and family are here and so I wanted to do well. Competing in Whistler is a whole other level for me.”
Absolutely crushing it on his final run in the two-run format, Semenuk did it huge in front of the full-capacity Whistler crowd. Back-to-back double whips going both ways, a huge flat-flip off the cabin feature, and finishing with a perfectly stomped flip-whip wrote Semenuk's name alongside an elite group of athletes to have won Joyride twice, including Cam Zinc and Paul Basagotia.
For the second year in a row, Swede Martin Söderström finished in second place with an amazing first run and a score of 89.8 points. In his final run, Söderström landed a triple-whip in the big moto-section of jumps but crashed hard off the final feature attempting a 360-double-whip and fractured his tib-fib in the process. Söderström competed in a number of Crankworx events, also placing second in the Rock Shox Ultimate Pump Track Challenge.
One of three diamond stops on the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour (FMB) including X-Games Munich and Red Bull Rampage in Utah, the Joyride slopestyle brings together the most elite slopestyle riders in the world. The UK's Sam Pilgrim entered Joyride ranked second in the FMB world standings behind Canadian Brett Rheeder. Pilgrim managed to pull together a clean and technical first run to cement his third place Joyride finish and move himself into top spot in the FMB rankings.
Typically plagued with bad luck at Crankworx, Pilgrim was ecstatic at laying down a good run on the Joyride course. “Oh my god!” said Pilgrim. “I finally landed a run,” speaking of his 87-point first run. “I've never done good here at Crankworx and I was riding just to get to the bottom. I feel really good to be here in third place at Joyride and first in the world sounds really cool.”
Winning the Break Out Award was Sweden's Anton Thelander, a young gun whose fourth place finish came as a bit of a surprise. “I didn't really expect to do this well at all,” said Thelander, “I seemed to have good luck at the contest in Vienna and I did pretty good here finishing fourth. It's like insane.”
A rider many expected to see on the Joyride podium was Californian Mike Montgomery. Montgomery took first place in the Teva Best Trick Challenge days earlier by landing a backflip bar-hop to tail-whip — the first ever landed on a bike. Unfortunately, Montgomery crashed out on both of his Joyride runs and didn't get the chance to attempt his new trick in the slopestyle event.
The signature event of Crankworx's 10 anniversary, the Red Bull Joyride has become the most sought after win in freeride mountain biking.
“Who would have thought 10 years ago that this would become the world's largest mountain bike festival and a gathering for the most elite mountain biking athletes in the world?” says Crankworx's GM Darren Kinnaird. “What has been created over the past 10 years here is something truly special and Whistlerites should be very proud of the role each and everyone of them has played in making the festival what it is today.”
With an estimated 25,000 spectators lining the slopestyle course, the 2013 Red Bull Joyride is one of the highest attended single events in Whistler's history. Add to that approximately 200,000 webcast views and over 2-million hits on Crankworx video recaps, Crankworx has become the freeride bike event not to be missed.