Redemption in Rotorua
Semenuk adds to his Crankworx Slopestyle legacy.
In 2015, Brandon Semenuk left New Zealand with nothing more than bumps, bruises and a concussion. In 2016, he returned and everything went to plan—he’s headed home with the Kelly McGarry Memorial Trophy and $20,000.
It was a long week of practice leading up to the event, with riders having ample time on the world-class course to perfect their Saturday afternoon runs. By the time the contest was ready to start, the rumor mill was abuzz about who was going to do which new trick on which jump. Before the scoring runs started, there was a powerful tribute to Kiwi legend, and friend of everyone, Kelly McGarry, in which all of the competitors and a host of compatriots participated in a seemingly never-ending train down the course.
As the contest began, all eyes shifted toward 2015 winner, Brett Rheeder, 2015 runner-up, Nicholi Rogatkin, and four-time Joyride Champion, Brandon Semenuk.The hype surrounding Nicholi was centered on his new trick, the DzTwister,dz a 1080-degree spin that he debuted last month and had landed multiple times in practice. Unfortunately, Nicholi wouldn’t make it to the bottom, suffering a tire blowout after a sideways landing.
Semenuk, on his Trek Ticket S with SRAM X01 DH, and RockShox Suspension was next, starting his run with a Dz360-Tailwhipdz and multiple combos through the middle of the course before conquering the DzCork-720-Barspindz that took him out last year. He received a high score of 94.33 from the judges.
His main rival, Brett Rheeder, was the last rider to drop in during the first round, throwing down an almost perfect run. Unfortunately for him, absolute perfection is all that matters in Slopestyle. The smallest of mistake can make or break a high score, and he was rewarded two points less than Semenuk.
First run scores determined the order in the second round, meaning Nicholi would start second. On his RockShox PIKE DJ equipped Specialized, he unleashed a barrage of DzCork-720s,dzDzCash Rollsdz and finally DzThe Twister.dz The crowd had been waiting for it specifically — and Nicholi did not disappoint— landing so hard he ripped his rear tire off the rim, but he held on and rode it out. The judges rewarded him a second-place score of 93.00
The victory lap. The entire field attempted to dethrone Semenuk, but his high score stood strong. Rheeder was the last to try, but a mistake filled run ended his hope of a repeat, giving Semenuk his first win in Rotorua and a victory lap to celebrate. Brandon hasnow won the Slopestyle at every Crankworx venue, and is the only rider with the opportunity to try and win the 2016 Crankworx Triple Crown of Slopestyle—and the $50,000 bonus that comes with it.