Semenuk's signature 720 looked nearly effortless on the new named McGazza course, which is reputedly among the best in the world. (Photo: Brandon Semenuk)
Brandon SEMENUK’s effortless performance bested even Nicholi ROGATKIN’s groundbreaking 1080, dubbed “The Twister”, on an afternoon no one in the bike community will soon forget.
The competition opened with all 18 riders executing a train in honour of rider Kelly McGARRY - a back-to-back run down the course. McGarry was both the designer and builder of the Rotorua Slopestyle course, with Elevate business partner Tom Hey. His passing in early-February, was the only cloud on a stunningly perfect afternoon at Skyline Gravity Park—the weather itself a tribute to the rider known for his golden locks and sunny disposition.
“He was an amazing person and a really good friend of mine. I spent a lot of time with him, rode with him. He was the happiest soul I know,” said Semenuk, who noted the tribute and win were pretty perfect for him as well.
Following a moment of silence, an announcement was made that the competition will be known as the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza moving forward, and the riders met the occasion by raising the competition to the highest level. From Semenuk to Rogatkin to the man who challenged the Triple Crown of Slopestyle in 2015, Brett RHEEDER, it appeared everyone was ready to pull out new tricks, pull oppo (opposite) approaches and generally push the envelope.
“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,” said Semenuk.
Nicholi Rogatk throws the bike after sending a near-perfect 1080-degree "Twister" in Rotorua, New Zealand, in honour of Kelly McGarry. (Photo by Clint Trahan/Crankworx)
Social media blew up well before the man known for owning Joyride came through to accept his win, the fans clearly declaring a preference for Rogatkin’s envelope-pushing trick. In interview after the competition, the riders indicated it was Semenuk’s consistency and grace, which secured the win over the phenomenal single hit.
“Between those two runs, 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,” said Paul Rak, head judge.
For his part, Rogatkin appeared non-shuffed.
“…It feels insane to be the first to do (The Twister) in the contest and to have the support of the crowd and the guys… feels amazing,” he said.
Brandon Semenuk sails off the SRAM feature and into a "dream run" on the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza course.
The Slopestyle event is to be followed by entertainment from DJ Nero and PDiggs and the Deep Summer Rotorua Photo Challenge. Deep Summer challenges the industry’s best photographers to assemble a team of riders to build the most creative photography slideshow possible. The shows will be assembled by competitors Zach FAULKNER (USA), Callum WOOD (GBR), Simeon PATIENCE (NZL) and Sean LEE (AUS).
Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza
1. Brandon SEMENUK (CAN)
2. Nicholi ROGATKIN (USA)
3. Brett RHEEDER (CAN)
The riders gather during a train tribute for Kelly McGarry at Crankworx Rotorua Saturday. Photo: Chester Boyes
Crankworx runs from March 9-13, 2016. Events include the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox, Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS, Crankworx Rotorua Air Downhill, Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle, Mons Royale Dual Speed and Style, Official Oceania Whip-Off Championships presented by SPANK and the Giant Toa Enduro. There will also be an expo at the Skyline Gravity Park, food and entertainment.
Crankworx is broadcast live from Crankworx.com
, Pinkbike.com and the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza was live on Red Bull TV
• Mons Royale Dual Speed and Style
: Thursday, Mar. 10, 5-7 p.m. NZDT; Wednesday, Mar. 9 8-10 p.m. PST; Thursday, Mar. 10 5-7 a.m. CET
• Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox
: Friday, Mar. 11, 7-9 p.m. NZDT; Thursday, Mar. 10-midnight PST; Friday, Mar. 11 7-9 a.m. CET
• Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza
: Saturday, Mar.12 3-5:30 p.m. NZDT; Friday, Mar. 11, 6-8:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, March 12 3-5:30 a.m. CET
• Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS
: Sunday, Mar. 13 2:30-5:30 p.m. NZDT; Saturday, Mar. 12 5:30-8:30 p.m. PST; Sunday, Mar. 13 2:30-5:30 a.m. CET