Brandon Semenuk's first acquaintance with Crankworx's southern hemisphere stop was, in a word, disappointing.
The Whistler local, who regularly dominates Red Bull Joyride here at the original Crankworx, crashed on his first run at Rotorua, New Zealand last year and eventually ended up in 14th place. He turned a page heading into this year, and stomped it at the March 12 contest, scoring a 94.33 tally to best American Nicholi Rogatkin (93.00) and fellow Canadian Brett Rheeder (92.00), who won the first two Crankworx slopestyle events in 2015. Semenuk put an exclamation point on his run with a cork 720 bar spin on his final jump.
"I'm so excited to come back and get a good run on the course. The track's been awesome. Last year, I had a big crash and didn't get to do my second run, which was a bummer, so it's nice to be able to come back and walk away unscathed," Semenuk told
Bike Magazine after the competition.
Rogatkin's new trick, the Twister, a jaw-dropping 1080, wasn't even enough to displace Semenuk from the top of the heap.
"One guy had absolutely perfect execution, but one had some trick difficulty — being Rogatkin — with a little inconsistency. Tough, tough fight between the judges, between first and second, but once it came down to it, trick for trick, it was Semenuk," head judge Paul Rak said in a release.
The 25-year-old Semenuk will look to secure the Triple Crown of Slopestyle with wins at the new French site in Les Gets and then here in Whistler.Semenuk's victory earned him the Kelly McGarry Memorial Trophy, presented in honour of the longtime Crankworx staple who died suddenly while filming at home in New Zealand earlier this winter. The 18 competitors did a train down the course with friends and children before the first run, and Semenuk was pleased to be part of the ceremony.
"It's just amazing to be here and put down a good run and do that train with everybody just in memory of Kelly," he told the Red Bull Content Pool after the rce. "We've all ridden with him, we love the guy and he would have just loved to see us all just shredding today. It's the least we could do."
Fellow Canadian Casey Brown of Revelstoke also hit the podium, winning the Official Oceania Whip-Off Championships, taking second to American Jill Kintner in the inaugural women's Mons Royale dual speed and style and finishing third to Kintner and Australian Tracey Hannah in the Crankworx Rotorua DH. American Ryan Howard won the men's whip-off, Czech Tomas Slavik captured the dual speed and style and Frenchman Loic Bruni won the Crankworx Rotorua DH.
France's Tomas Lemoine and Kintner won the respective Rotorua Pump Track Challenges, Kiwis George Brannigan and Rae Morrison won the respective Air DH races and New Zealand's Matt Walker and Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands won the GIANT Toa Enduro events. Beerten will put the win in her pocket as she seeks to repeat as the tour's Queen of Crankworx champion.
In the men's enduro, Australian Josh Carlson, who trains in Whistler, hit the podium in third.