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.