Every sporting series has its marquee event, the 'Big Show,' so to speak, that competitors want to win more than any other contest. Formula One has Monaco, skiing has Kitzbuhel, and surfing has Mavericks. And slope riders? They have the Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx. There are two other Crankworx events that already happened this year, one in France (cancelled due to biblical flooding) and the other in New Zealand, but Whistler is where it all began in 2004. It's also the one that counts for all the beans. Hey, no pressure, though...
A victory in Whistler isn't only worth a large cheque and a hefty bonus from sponsors; Red Bull Joyride winners join a shortlist of names that include Basagoitia (2004 and 2005), Zink (2006 and 2010), Boyko, Lacondeguy, Watts, Thomas Genon in 2012, and four-time winner Brandon Semenuk (2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015). Not a bad list of names to be a part of, then.
The question is, who is going to take the crown in 2016? With four wins here in the past and a victory at this year's Crankworx event in Rotorua thanks to a perfect run, you'd be crazy to say that local boy Semenuk doesn't sit at the top of your list. He's the one that the crowd waits for; the Silent Assasin with technical skills that make some of us wonder if gravity even applies to him.
His Trek teammate, Brett Rheeder, has proven to be one of the few riders who can challenge him, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a two-way battle between the Canadians go down on the Bone Yard course. However, there are others who could bring the fight to Semenuk and Rheeder, especially one particular twenty-year-old from Lincoln, Massachusetts.
With massive off-axis spins, Specialized's Nicholi Rogatkin is another one who could challenge, as could Logan Peat, who recently took an impressive third at the Swatch Prime Line event in Munich. Messere, Genon, Thelander, and a handful of other riders all have a shot at the top spot as well.
So, who will it be?