Once again the crowds gathered on the sides of the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza course to witness some incredible two-wheeled trickery. Scheduled for Saturday, the big show was all set to get underway but as the tarps got rolled off the weather rolled in. In a holding pattern, the riders had to wait anxiously as the first phase of showers came and went. Now two hours behind schedule, the course began to dry out and riders once more had to get themselves in the zone ready to do battle. As the final practice runs came to an end Mother Nature decided today wasn't to be the day and let rip all she had. Heavy rain quickly created streams down the hill and the crowds had vanished from the sides of the course.
Roll on Sunday. Last chance Sunday. With early morning downpours wreaking havoc on the downhill course just meters away, the likelihood of the slopestyle going ahead looked slim. But Rotorua's changeable conditions played in everyone's favour. As expected, the rain held off for just long enough and without any unrequired delay riders began to spin and flip their way down the newly revised course.
This years event saw the notable absence of Brandon Semenuk who left the door wide open for previous champs Brett Rheeder and Nicholi Rogatkin to dual it out for the slopestyle title. It wasn't all smooth sailing for the previous winners though, with Tommy G back on form and a few dark horses in the mix. After the first runs, Brett was in the lead with a 98.40, and Rogatkin was sitting in 2nd on a 92.40.
Come to the second runs, riders knew what they had to do. Go big or go home. One by one, they each took turns to try and better Rheeders score but kept falling short. Genon came through, laying down a highly technical and dialled run that saw him take 2nd place. Diego Caverzasi pulled a twister that he had never done in competition before and slipped into 3rd. Come Nicholi's run, he had slipped three places from 2nd down to 5th and knew he had to go big if he wanted to walk away victorious. Unfortunately for Rogatkin, he had to settle for fifth place with a 86.75.
Riders ready, tools on standby. Practice may have been short-lived on Saturday, but with all the harsh landings the dirt took a beating.
With what looked to be a good window of clear weather approaching, crews scrambled to get things dried out.
That meant torching the dirt to bake it hard and burn the water off.
Without delay, Brett Rheeder was quick to get runs in and started by tail-whipping the new left-hand hip where the boner long used to be.
Spinning up onto the whale tail.
Reed Boggs hitting the boost button off the super booter.
Rheeder looked to be the one to watch showing some of his cards and landing every trick cleanly.
Tomas Lemoine spinning off the boner.
Szymon Godziek floating up in the trees.
With raindrops falling, rider's safety was paramount and the course was closed for the final time.
Quick hands required around here.
Everyone rushed to cover up all the features and landings as quickly as possible to avoid any water damage.
Within 10 minutes the course went from dry to soaked. The weather hit hard and fast and left everyone wondering whether the competition would go ahead on Sunday.
Sunday's weather began to play ball, though, and riders started to throw down.
With both the McCaul's in the commentary box it was set to be a great show.
Sunday's forecast proved to be incorrect and as soon as they could, things got underway without further delay
Backflipping the long & low.
Two legends of the sport hanging out and talking turkey. I wonder what they were saying?
Reed Boggs turned on the show for the crowds but didn't get the score he needed to be a podium threat.
Diego Caverzasi went all in and tossed a twister for the first time, stomping it clean and firmly placing him on the third podium step.
Nicholi risked everything today but sadly he ran out of airtime during his 1440 on the last feature. He hit the deck and watched it all slip away.
Brett Rheeder had the eye of the tiger all night long. He didn't even take the shuttles to the top, electing to walk up the opposite side of the track to everyone else and then took to the woods behind the start gate to get some alone time.
With one last chance, Nicholi Rogatkin went all in and attempted a 1440 on the final jump.
Brett Rheeder's shiny new hardware.
Your 2018 Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle Podium.
Rheeder's name will now take pride of place behind these previous winners.
Until next time Big Fella.
1st - Brett Rheeder Full Results
2nd - Thomas Genon
3rd - Diego Caverzasi
Mentions: @cameronmackenzie @officialcrankworx