Brandon Semenuk is back.
The Red Bull Joyride master returned to the top step of the podium on Sunday, one year after a frustrating competition day left him in 14th out of 16 riders. On the first run of the day, Whistler native Semenuk set the course ablaze, scoring an 89.8 that no rider after him topped.
"It's always awesome to take the win here. It never gets easier," he said. "This one is just as important as all the others."
Semenuk had taken much of the year away from slopestyle competition to film and race rally cars, but when he lined up at a course he seems to own, looked perfectly up to speed with other riders who had hit other spots on the Crankworx and Freeride Mountain Bike world tours.
Semenuk's biggest push came from Swedish phenom Emil Johansson, who at just 18 found himself on the podium in second spot, a year after narrowly missing the medals in fourth. Johansson's 86.8 was also good enough to secure the overall Crankworx World Tour slopestyle title and the accompanying $25,000 prize.
Johansson's hallmark this season was consistency and it showed at Joyride as he and Nyquist were the only two riders to break 80 points in both runs. The first half of the race saw 10 of the 18 riders fail to make it down the course without a stoppage.
"It's really tough. A lot of riders didn't even make it down today," Johansson said. "Some people get really nervous, but I'm just trying to keep myself calm because being nervous doesn't help me."
American Ryan Nyquist finished third while also taking second overall on the world tour.
For the third year it was offered, no rider was able to claim the Triple Crown of Slopestyle, leaving the $25,000 prize on the table. American Nicholi Rogatkin was in contention this year after winning in Rotorua and Innsbruck, but fell late in his first run, limiting himself to a 44.0 score. On his second run, the loud pop of a flat tire after landing a jump officially ended his candidacy as he placed 14th. Defending champion Brett Rheeder also had a tough day with a best run of only 33.6.
Crankworx also crowned its King and Queen on Saturday as both riders with leads entering the festival took the crowns on the way out. After two years of falling just short, France's Adrien Loron scored the men's title while American Jill Kintner won on the women's side for the second year in a row.