Brandon Semenuk returned to the top of the freeride mountain bike world by making it three Red Bull Joyride wins in a row at another epic event in Whistler on Sunday.
The local boy also stopped Brett Rheeder from winning the first ever Triple Crown of Crankworx in its first year. He now has four Joyride victories under his belt and has landed on the podium an incredible seven times.
But this victory meant more than usual to Semenuk after his disappointing start to the season, which saw Rheeder win all three of the previous stops on the FMB World Tour Diamond Series.
It wasn’t to be for the Canadian in Whistler however, as he caved under the pressure of going for three wins out of three on the Crankworx World Tour, crashing on both his runs.
Nicholi Rogatkin impressed with an incredible run, but it was only enough for second, while the one man who has beaten Semenuk at Joyride in the last five years, Thomas Genon, finished third.
“This is complete redemption for the bad season at the start of the year,” said Semenuk. “I’m so happy. I felt really good in practice. But I felt really good in all the other events too. I just needed that run.
“You can’t ever have too much experience here. It’s so stressful, there’s so many people and you just want to perform and put on a good show. I’ve done it before but it’s still hard every time.”
The finals themselves were delayed after heavy rain on Saturday giving Semenuk and Rheeder extra time to recover from a practice crash and illness respectively.
But even in perfect weather on Sunday the challenging course, which boasted 13 trickable features, caused riders problems on their opening runs.
Tom van Steenbergen attemped a gnarly front flip off the Joyride cabin but went down hard along with Cam Zink and Sam Pilgrim. Rogatkin looked on fire but blew out a tire attempting his signature cash roll.
Semenuk had no problems however, stomping a ground-breaking run that included two perfect cork 720s, one of which he saved for the final feature. It earned him a 93.80.
The pressure was clearly getting to Rheeder, as he chased his first ever Joyride win as well as the unprecedented Triple Crown, and he crashed early on his first run attempting to match his rival’s backflip double tailwhip.
Most riders improved on their second runs, with Rogatkin stomping a cork 720 and the cash roll back-to-back to post a 90.40, while 2012 Joyride champion Genon managed an 88.00 to get himself on the podium.
But, although Rheeder landed the trick that took him down on run one, a mistake before the very next kicker saw him crash out of the competition, leaving Semenuk to enjoy another victory lap through Whistler’s famous Boneyard.
Despite looking devastated Rheeder was awarded some consolation in the form of the Crankworx World Tour overall championship, which he won by 50 points.
However, after failing to complete either run in Whistler, the Canadian has slipped into second in the FMB World Tour Diamond Series, a honour which Semenuk beat him too narrowly last year, with Genon taking a 20-point lead.
Rheeder will be looking for some redemption of his own when the Diamond Series rolls into Utah for Red Bull Rampage in October but, along with the world’s best big mountain riders, Semenuk will be there hoping to crash the party again.