The final stop of the Crankworx Slopestyle World Tour had shaped up to be the ultimate showdown, with $75,000 and a first-ever Triple Crown win on the line for American Nicholi Rogatkin if he could defeat last year's Joyride champion and perennial threat Brett Rheeder and Swede Emil Johansson, the overall tour leader going into Sunday's competition at Whistler.
But, it was the master of style, Brandon Semenuk—in his only appearance of the four-stop tour—who walked away with the win, after his decisive first run outlasted 17 other competitors. In an unlikely position for Semenuk, he was the first competitor to drop into the massive, 12-feature Joyride course at Whistler's Boneyard bike park, and handled the pressure with ease, spinning and flipping his way into an 89.8, a score that held for the rest of the day. Semenuk stomped a half cab—the same trick he crashed on last year—to start his run, followed by a backflip double tailwhip into the step-up straight into a cork 720 on the hip, then an opposite cork 720, the first time Semenuk has pulled that trick in competition. He continued seamlessly and smooth down the hill and finished with a flawless backflip candybar.
"Brandon kicked things off like a maniac," said Brit Matt Jones, in the finish corral after his first run of the day.
The 18-year-old Johansson landed in second place, securing the overall Tour title, after laying down a top-to-bottom first run filled with huge combos on nearly every feature, like his backflip tailwhip to bar-spin cork 720 that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
BMX legend and second-time Joyride competitor Ryan Nyquist pulled in third place after his second run edged out Anthony Messere by .6 of a point.
Rogatkin, who placed first at Crankwork Rotorua and Innsbruck, setting him up for the elusive Triple Crown title (worth $50,000) with a win on Sunday, had a heartbreaker of a day, sliding out to a collective gasp after nailing the first 75 percent of his first run. He ran back up the hill to re-start, front-flipped onto the massive Kokanee on-off box, then cased the landing off the top and hit the ground hard. He flatted in his second run, ending his day.
Rheeder also had a difficult day, crashing out on his first run and slipping a pedal in his second. Stay tuned on bikemag.com for a full photo gallery from Sunday's Joyride competition.
See Semenuk’s winning run here: