Escape from dismal and depressing weather related conversation has been nigh-on impossible to avoid all week here in the French Alps, and for good reason. Big, black, thunder clouds have wreaked havoc on the good times and with yet more on the radar, today the running of the jewel in the Crankworx crown - the slopestyle event was brought forwards to make the most of a forecast clear spell. The acres of black tarpaulin were peeled back at 8am to expose the perfectly manicured, albeit overly fresh track underneath; a track that until the Friday of this week, had never been ridden.
A deluge the day prior had left the track a little damp, and despite the crews’ best efforts to fix the issues on track, the riders' tires were filling with dirt, slowing them down and compromising their grip on the huge obstacles facing them. Besides anything else, track time before the big show was at an all-time low before a diamond FMB event and everybody knew it. After 2 hours of delays it was put to a rider vote, and a majority decision determined the competition cancelled in the name of safety and concerns the best runs would be impossible to throw down.
Not wanting to disappoint the expectant crowds in attendance or at home, the riders put on a best trick competition on the bottom hit of the slopestyle course. A huge buzz built around the action and there were rumours that Semenuk might be about to unveil his whip-to-tailwhip that he premiered in his latest edit. While those hopes never materialised, we were treated to some wild maneuvers, not least Thomas Genon’s flat-spin tables, oppo cork 7s from Brett Rheeder, oppo cash rolls from Bizet and the one and only 'twister' by Nicolai Rogatkin.
We awoke to much brighter skies than expected, but there was the feeling that it was all just too little too late.
Semenuk just warming up; a true ride or die kind of guy.
Getting symmetrical with Yannick Granieri on the enormous wooden feature of the Les Gets slopestyle course.
Brandon sending the step up. No chance of him ending up with catch of the day.
Bicycle hero of epic proportions, Ryan Nyquist, chilled before the big show.
From the get-go, riders seemed very reluctant to get out for some laps... No amount of sun was ever going to clean this mess up.
The skies also continued to threaten to kill the show stone dead as practice went on.
Brett Rheeder cleans the 'pringle'; a feature riders only had their first attempts on yesterday.
After his 3rd place in NZ, Rheeder was pushing hard, looking to secure an upgrade this time round all through practice.
Anthony Messere's amplitude knows no bounds.
With the whale-tail run-in modified with boards to avoid the soft dirt halfway through practice, Rheeder misjudged his speed and over-shot massively on the step-up, taking a heavy hit and damaging his bike. He then had to sit it out until he could be rescued with the ladders.
The slopestyle finals start time was continuously pushed back as riders waited, hoping either it would dry up or rain again to help determine the best course of action. In the end, it went to an 'eyes closed, hands up' vote from the riders as to whether finals should proceed.
Coming in hot; the view from the sender at the end of slope course that would now host a 'best trick' contest as a compromise.
Tippie spreading the stoke and good vibes for the competition after a tough morning full of safety concerns.
The signature style of Nyquist as he hand drags the snowy Portes du Soleil peaks.
Logan Peat's backflip no handers were a thing of beauty.
Brett Rheeder's ability to execute insanely clean 720s in both directions is truly unreal.
Nicholi Rogatkin going gargantuan....
But perhaps not quite gargantuan enough as he somehow landed on his feet right on the deck.
Tomas Lemoine was out looking to build on his growing reputation as a top flight slope athlete.
Lemoine boosting a tuck-no-hander 360.
Thomas Genon's 360 table was nothing short of absolutely nuts.
Nicolai Rogatkin delivering the goods with a cashroll in front of Ryan Nyquist's bike.
Semenuk, mid goggle ritual.
Throwing down a beauty of a flip-whip below the impending storm.
Granieri takes on the dish/pringle on route to the best trick jump. With its mountainous backdrop, it was kind of made the wrong way around for photos... Next time Les Gets!
Brett Rheeder pushing the amplitude envelope on the quest for some blue sky of his own.
Anthony Messere's no stranger to going absolutely massive...
...never has been.
Szymon Godziek threw down the first insane trick of the day with his well-extended backflip cliffhanger.
Antoine Bizet hit the deck multiple times with some hard slams, but was determined to get his oppo cashroll dialled for the French crowds.
Polish superstar, Szymon Godziek, flipping up onto the woodwork.
Rheeder went out to land corked 720s in both directions and he got them both perfect.
3rd place for Rheeder. Not 2 bad, you might say.
Bizet drops in hoping to finally nail his oppo cashroll at the last opportunity.
Bizet finally landed it silky smooth.
Never one to disappoint the fans, Antoine pulled out all the stops here in Les Gets for his fellow countrymen and women...
A reminder of what has kept the build crews and organizers up each night since the mountain bikers of the world rolled into town earlier in the week.
Eye of the tiger for Nicoli Rogatkin coming over the whale tale one last time.
Rogatkin, shows the euro crowds what has become his signature 'twister' in all its 1080 glory this afternoon.
Brandon Semenuk watches on as Rogatkin takes home the win.
Absolutely pumped to land the 1080 once again and destroy the competition here in Les Gets.
Rogatkin, Bizet and Rheeder your Crankworx Les Gets Best Trick 2016 champs.
Nicoli getting a deserved head start on the party in town tonight.
Big thanks to all the athletes and organizers for doing their utmost to let the show go on against the odds.