Cam Zink cements comeback with Crankworx slopestyle victory

Photos: Anthony Smith and Colin Meagher

Words: Brice Minnigh

The perennially injured Cam Zink finally cemented his long-awaited comeback during Saturday’s Crankworx Slopestyle finals, nailing a near-flawless run on a fear-inducing course that left several riders injured.

Though competition was stiff, with San Diegan Mike Montgomery throwing down the gauntlet with a hard-to-beat first run that featured tricks on every stunt, Zink simply went bigger than everyone else on a second run that sealed his victory. After a mellow victory lap in which he skipped daunting features like the massive Monster Energy drop, Zink was swarmed by his fellow competitors, most of whom seemed ecstatic over his comeback after a frustrating string of injuries.

“I’m just happy to be healthy again,” said a mostly speechless Zink following the podium ceremony.

The contest was one of the most dramatic in the history of the sport, with an extremely technical course that included the 25-by-20-foot Monster Energy drop—a feature that scared all of the riders, many of whom avoided it on runs that had already put themselves out of contention.

There were numerous crashes, three of which led to injuries. Crowd favorite Brandon Semenuk sustained a broken collarbone during a horrendous crash in his first and only run, after stretching out a backflip too long on the final jump. Darren Berrecloth, who won session two of the Trick Showdown earlier in the week, also crashed on his final jump 360 and injured his wrist. Yannick Granieri was taken to the hospital after a violent tumble.

With big names like Semenuk and Berrecloth out of contention, the way was cleared for lesser-known riders such as Casey Groves and Sam Dueck, who seized third and fourth place, respectively, with impressive runs that signal bright futures for both competitors.

Last year’s winner Greg Watts pulled some of the ballsiest moves of the contest, but flatted his rear tire on his second run. Nevertheless, he landed the final jump with the flat tire, drawing a roar from this year’s record-breaking crowd.

Cam Zink cements his comeback with a Crankworx slopestyle victory

Cam Zink cements his comeback with a Crankworx slopestyle victory

Zink gets mobbed by his competitors after his final run

Zink gets mobbed by his competitors after his final run

Zink, runner-up Mike Montgomery and third-place finisher Casey Groves

Zink, runner-up Mike Montgomery and third-place finisher Casey Groves

One of the more exuberant groups of fans alongside the course

One of the more exuberant groups of fans alongside the course

Brandon Semenuk watches Zink on his first of three runs

Brandon Semenuk watches Zink on his first of three runs

Greg Watts with a stretched no-hander off the Monster Energy drop

Greg Watts with a stretched no-hander off the Monster Energy drop

Mike Montgomery prepares to eat dirt on his second run

Mike Montgomery prepares to eat dirt on his second run

Mitch Chuby styles it on the step-down

Mitch Chuby styles it on the step-down

Casey Groves on the scary end of the Monster Energy drop

Casey Groves on the scary end of the Monster Energy drop

Martin Soderstrom crashed on both of his runs

Martin Soderstrom crashed on both of his runs.

Groves walking on air.

Groves walking on air.

Cam Zink on his opening run was spinning flipping everything in site.

Cam Zink on his opening run was spinning flipping everything in sight.

And then sent it big on hs first run through the Boneyard.

And then sent it big on his first run through the Boneyard.

Fans had a variety of signs on the course, but most of them needed no instructions. If riders went big, pretty much everyone went nuts.

Fans had a variety of signs on the course, but most of them needed no instructions. If riders went big, pretty much everyone went nuts.

Martin Soderstom underwhelmed himself on the first round.

Martin Soderstrom underwhelmed himself on the first round.

And then crashed doing a big three off the Monster Drop.

And then crashed doing a big three off the Monster Drop.

Brandon Semenuk, tuck no hander up onto the pink whale tail...

Brandon Semenuk, tuck no-hander up onto the pink whale tail...

...tailwhip off.

...tailwhip off.

Greg Watts kept this drop pretty simple with a bar spin.

Greg Watts kept this drop pretty simple with a bar spin.

Sam Pilgrim washed out on his first round, but came out swinging during his second round, back flipping the pink whale tail.

Sam Pilgrim washed out on his first round, but came out swinging during his second round, back flipping the pink whale tail.

Amir Kabbani with the tuck no hander on the Race Face wall.

Amir Kabbani with the tuck no-hander on the Race Face wall.

Casey Groves spinning a cracked table off the whale tale.

Casey Groves spinning a cracked table off the whale tail.

Jack Fogelquist with a tail whip

Jack Fogelquist with a tail whip

Watts was not really spinning as much as many of the other riders, but was definitely throwing down. A detonated rear wheel in round two was the end of a second Crankworx crown for Watts.

Watts was not really spinning as much as many of the other riders, but was definitely throwing down. A detonated rear wheel in round two was the end of a second Crankworx crown for Watts.

Cam Zink's 95 during round two was the winner on the day. An ecstatic Zink was blown away by the win. ''I've fought throug a lot of adversity since winning here 4 years ago. A lot of injuries... There is gonna be a PARTY tonight!''

Cam Zink's 95 during round two was the winner on the day. An ecstatic Zink was blown away by the win. ''I've fought through a lot of adversity since winning here 4 years ago. A lot of injuries... There is gonna be a PARTY tonight!''

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