Event of the Year Nominees
During the time between mid-spring and fall in the Northern Hemisphere, there are world-class events every week. The level of competition in mountain biking continues to grow, and there are more opportunities than ever for people around the world to tune in and watch if they can't be there in person. There are plenty of events that could be considered the "Event of the Year" but a few stood out above the rest.
Red Bull Joyride, World Championships, and the Enduro World Series finals at Finale all carry an unfathomable amount of pressure, and are the ultimate events in their respective disciplines. They're the culmination of a season's worth of hard work, where athletes put it all on the line to attain that elusive podium spot.
Each of these events saw competition that kept viewers and racers on edge until the end. Which one do you call the best?
Why it's nominated
Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx Whistler is the biggest event of the year on the slopestyle calendar. It's the final stop in the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship, and the last opportunity for riders to compete for the Triple Crown.
The level of competition and the tricks pulled progresses each year, and the moves that it takes for a rider to compete, let alone land on the podium, become more and more challenging. This year, many riders had mistakes or falls in their first run, making the second run all the more critical. Brett Rheeder, who had a low score in his first run, was one of the first riders down on run two. Rheeder wove together a phenomenal sequence of tricks, landing a flat backflip tailwhip off of the final drop into the finish corral and earning a score of 94.50.
The last rider down, Nicholi Rogatkin, was the only rider who stood a chance to best Rheeder's high score. Rogatkin laced together an impressive run with surgical precision that seemed to be smoother and cleaner than his first attempt, but would it be enough? The anticipation grew as thousands of people at Whistler and even more watching live from around the world waited for his score. Rogatkin's 96.50 bested Rheeder by a slim margin, but it was enough to give him the win at Whistler, making the total three, and securing the previously untouched Triple Crown.
Why it's nominated
World Championships is the biggest one day event in XCO and DH mountain biking, and this year the event took place in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
In DH, Loic Bruni claimed his third World Champs title in the men's race, with Martin Maes a mere .2 seconds back, while Rachel Atherton came from a great World Cup season, amidst strong competition, to take her fifth World Championships win in the women's race by 9 seconds.
In cross-country, defending World Champion Nino Schurter took the gold medal in the men's event on home soil. The race that had everyone talking, however, was the women's cross-country event. Annika Langvad drove the pace early on, opening up a gap that at one point stretched 35 seconds in front of American Kate Courtney and Canadian Emily Batty. Courtney took advantage of a crash that Langvad had on the third lap to make up some time but was still behind the Danish rider by 20 seconds until the fifth lap. Once Courtney had Langvad in sight, she upped her pace and closed in. Choosing technical lines and capitalizing on a mistake Langvad made, Courtney was able to make a pass and open up a gap to win her first Elite level race and take home the World Championships gold medal and rainbow stripes to America for the first time in 17 years.
Why it's nominated
The Enduro World Series came to conclusion in Finale Ligure, Italy, on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. After a year of intense competition, the final day would crown the season's overall winners.
On the final stage, Cecile Ravanel bested Isabeau Courdurier and managed to put six seconds into the entire women's field. This gave her a perfect season with eight wins in eight starts and the world EWS title.
In the men's race, Richie Rude won the day, taking all four stages, but Sam Hill rode a concise, clean, and consistent season to secure the overall title. This is Hill's second straight year taking the overall and it proves that the master of flat pedals doesn't need the clipless advantage in getting things done.