Words: Chris Lesser
Another Crankworx Slopestyle contest is in the books, and neither the odds-on favorite nor the returning champion came away with the win.
Brandon Semenuk came into the Kokanee Crankworx Monster Energy Slopestyle fresh off a win at Crankworx Colorado in Winter Park. Earlier in the summer he took the top-spot at the Claymore Challenge at Highland Mountain in New Hampshire, and before that, 1st place at the Red Bull Rampage. He looked unstoppable.
But when the dust settled and the judges scores came in, Semenuk's last run came 0.75 points short to Greg Watts' second-round score of 96 points. The crowd of thousands roared as Watts finished his victory lap and was drenched with Monster Energy coffee drink. Watts had come in second to Semenuk at the Claymore Challenge, and now he has returned the favor.
It was a night of many firsts for the Crankworx Slopestyle contest. Because of a rained-out Best Trick Showdown on Thursday, the organizers decided to combine it with the Slopestyle for the first time—raising the overall prize purse for Saturday night's competition to $38,000. The potential for a combined payday of $21,000 ($15k for the slopestyle; $6k for best trick) for a single rider added an extra layer of anticipation for the field of 16 qualifiers.
Another first came in the flopping, flapping, bounding form of the butt-naked spectator who ran the length of the course in between runs in Round 1 of the competition, to the shock, horror and amusement of thousands who watched Crankworx's first-ever streaker make it down the entire course, with an unfortunate close-up of the whole run on the jumbo-tron. The streaker even went for a victory loop in the finisher's area, refusing the cover of a beach ball offered by a flummoxed official at the bottom of the course. Instead, he took the ball and raised it overhead as he lapped the winner's circle and then bounded back up the course and into the woods.
Yet another first came after Watts' victory lap—when he was covered not in champagne, not in beer beer, but in java. Specifically, in brown sticky-sweet "Mean Bean" Monster Energy coffee drink.
The run that precipitated the coffee precipitation went like this: 360 tail-whip off the drop in, Superman seat-grab over the first jump, back-flip onto 360 off the Giro box, tail-whip off the Kona wall, truck driver off the SRAM feature, bar-spin off the Race Face drop; flip-whip over the VW dirt jump and huge back flip off the Kokanee Kicker to cap it all off—$15,000 richer than he was when he started his run.
Defending champ Andreu Lacondeguy was plagued with crashes and didn't make it into the Superfinal, but did take home the Best Trick thanks to his huge 360 flat-spin Superman off the second to last jump of the course.
The field of 16 competitors got two runs to notch their best score. The top 6 moved on to the Superfinal, where each would get a last crack at the top dog.
Second place, along with $7,500, went to Semenuk, and super-Swede Martin Soederstrom's well-earned 90.75 points nabbed him $3,000.
Kokanee Crankworx Monster Energy Slopestyle Results:
1. Greg Watts
2. Brandon Semenuk
3. Martin Soederstrom