So far so good for Whistler's Brandon Semenuk. The freeride mountain bike star came into this season with plans to enter a handful of events, potentially passing up his chance to three-peat as the overall Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour overall leader in order to focus on filming and other opportunities.
His first event was the Munich X Games, where he placed second to fellow Canadian Brett Rheeder.
Two weeks later, Semenuk was in the start gate at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, the European version of Crankworx Whistler, where he placed first with a 93.33, ahead of Sam Pilgrim of Great Britain's 91.00 and Sweden's Martin Soderstrom's 90.67.
The range of tricks and combinations on display was incredible, but Semenuk had the most technical run and a few variations all his own — including a corked 720 that was unique. He also did it all on his second run after crashing on his first tour down the course.
Semenuk earned 8,500 euros for the win, which is about $11,500 in Canadian money, plus tour points that could secure his title once again even if that's not his goal for the season. However, wins in all of the top diamond level events will put him in contention.
In an interview before the start of the season, Semenuk said he would rather only diamond and gold level events count towards the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour standings, rather than including points from every event. With the current system, a rider who attends more events — skipping other opportunities in the sport — can win the title over a rider who scores better results at the major competitions.
Brett Rheeder placed eighth on the day after crashing on his second run, and although he walked away he later went to the hospital to get a scan of his back and neck. Anthony Messere was 12th.
The IXS Slopestyle was the last big event at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, which ran over six days. Canadian representation at other events was low and there were no other Canadians on the podium.
The only remaining diamond events on the tour are Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx Whistler on Aug. 17 and Red Bull Rampage in Utah on Oct. 12. Remaining gold events include the Colorado Freeride Festival on July 27 and the Bearclaw Invitational at Mt. Washington on Aug. 24.
Gearjammer goes full speed ahead
Singletrack lovers are going to enjoy the 2013 edition of the Squamish GearJammer, the third event in the Test of Metal Group of races. The course is a little different this year, but still emphasizes singletrack riding.
The race takes place Saturday, July 20 with a mass start at 11 a.m. at the entrance to Alice Lake Provincial Park. It finishes at Rose Park.
The first part of the trail is a prologue up the Alice Lake road and the gravel road to Edith Lake and the Ring Creek Forest Service Road. The field should be spread out a little by the time the course hits Ed's Bypass and the first selection of trails, including Muzak and Dead End Loop, followed by the Bob McIntosh Trail. Sections that were out of bounds last year because of logging are open once again.
Next up is Tracks from Hell, followed by Bridge Too Far and Mashiter Trail to Cliff's Corners and back to the Ring Creek FSR.
There's a feed station in that area, followed by Skookum, Middle Powersmart, the George's Crossing climb, Recycle, and the first three sections of Pseudo Tsuga. On the fourth section of Pseudo Tsuga riders will be diverted onto the Legacy Trail and a long climb back up to Ring Creek FSR. The rest of the course is comprised of Fool's Gold, Darwin's Bridge to the Powerhouse Plunge, Farther Side, Hairy Bomber, Ta Miami, Three Virgins, The Graduate, gas cut, Endo and the sprint down the Smoke Bluff's Trail to the finish.
Registration is still available online through Friday night, and you can register in person at Nesters Market from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday night or at the finish area in Rose Park from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Both in-person registration opportunities are cash only, with an entry fee of $65. That includes a $5 donation to Squamish's trail fund.
Top times are around 2:25 for men and 2:45 for women.
For more, visit www.testofmetal.com.