Nicholi Rogatkin will look to be the first-ever rider to take home the Triple Crown of Slopestyle when he drops in at the Red Bull Joyride on Sunday, Aug. 20.
The Lincoln, Mass. native won Crankworx slopestyle events in Rotorua and Innsbruck to set himself up for a chance at $25,000 with a win here in Whistler. Rogatkin has had a mixed bag at the Joyride, having earned a second-place finish in 2015 sandwiched by 11th-place showings in both 2014 and 2016.
"I feel honoured to enter Crankworx Whistler with the chance to take home the Triple Crown. It's essentially the most prestigious award possible to win in MTB Slopestyle, so to have the chance to win that feels surreal," Rogatkin explained in an email.
However, the road won't be easy as past champions like Thomas Genon of Belgium, Canadian Brett Rheeder and Whistler legend Brandon Semenuk will all be standing in his way. As well, Sweden's Emil Johansson, the overall series leader after three consistent showings, will be looking to secure both the world tour championship, and the $25,000 that goes with it, as well as his first-ever win when the Joyride hits the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
"Nicholi is very unique as a rider and always focused on his goal," Johansson, who is just 17, wrote in an email.
The Joyride kicks off at 10:30 a.m.
Other major events remaining include the Canadian Open Downhill on Saturday, Aug. 19, with the pros dropping from 1:45 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.; the Giant Dual Slalom finals from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18; the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge finals from 8 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17; and the Official Whip-Off World Championships finals from 2:30 to 4 p.m. earlier Thursday.
CHILEAN RIDER INJURED
Downhill rider Gustavo "Guga" Ortiz of Chile is in hospital in Vancouver after crashing during training.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money to complement his insurance coverage, Ortiz broke his 10T vertebra and lost sensitivity in his lower extremities.
The campaign had raised over $26,000 of the $30,000 goal as of noon on Aug. 16.
On his Facebook page, Ortiz posted a video of himself in his hospital bed with a Spanish caption translating to: "Thank you so much everyone for the messages and good vibes!"
Whistler Blackcomb chief operating officer Pete Sonntag expressed his best wishes in a statement, which confirmed that a 21-year-old male Chilean rider had been injured, but didn't mention Ortiz by name.
"Whistler Blackcomb and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our sympathy and support to our guest's family and friends," Sonntag said in the statement.
The GoFundMe is online at www.gofundme.com/guga-ortiz-mtb-rider.