Battling heavy gusts of wind and freak mechanicals, the favorites in Crankworx Whistler's 2012 Red Bull Joyride finals fell at the hands of some upstart young talents—with Belgium's Thomas Genon rising to the top after three inspired runs.
In his winning run, Genon landed the contest's only backflip onto the platform atop the towering Bud Light cabin and immediately landed a 360 from the top of the cabin, securing his first-ever Crankworx Red Bull Joyride victory. Genon's win was all the more impressive considering that he was one of only three riders competing on hardtails.
Adding to the intensity of this year's Red Bull Joyride was the stunning crowd of several thousand enthusiastic spectators. Lining both sides of the course from top to bottom—and covering the lower flank of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park in a colorful carpet of humanity—the throngs seethed with sighs and gasps over each move. It was clear that the crowd was heavily invested in the outcome of every run.
The contest's overwhelming favorite, Whistler local Brandon Semenuk—who won last year's Joyride and has dominated the 2012 Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour—surprised the crowd by crashing in his first two runs and failing to advance to the final round. Semenuk was visibly upset as he descended his second run and entered the SRAM deck, expressing extreme disappointment over the outcome.
Meanwhile, top contender Martin Söderström was looking threatening on his final run until he crashed trying to land a 360 double-whip on the course's last jump. Söderström stood out as one of the most versatile riders of this year's Crankworx, with a stellar performance in the Best Trick Showdown, a second-place finish in the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge and second overall in Red Bull Joyride.
Adding to Söderström's street cred was the fact that during the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge, he was compelled to throw tricks on almost every lap and still managed to secure second place. His stylish performances made him a crowd favorite of this year's Crankworx Whistler.
Red Bull Joyride Results:
1) Thomas Genon
2) Martin Söderström
3) Cam McCaul
4) Brett Rheeder
5) Anthony Messere
6) Casey Groves
7) Tyler McCaul
8) Kelly McGarry