Photo Epic: Rocket Air Finals 2018

May 1, 2018
by Simon Nieborak  


Never before was the battle for victory at the Swatch Rocket Air as dramatic as this year's event. After easing into his first run, Englishman Matt Jones put down the hammer on his second run bumping Sam Pilgrim from the top spot. None of the previous winners, Sam Pilgrim, Thomas Genon or Nicholi Rogatkin could manage a flawless run to land themselves the top spot at Swatch Rocket Air 2018. Matt Jones is only the fifth winner of the competition after Rogatkin, Genon, Pilgrim and Martin Söderström. Alex Alenko and Sam Pilgrim respectively took home 2nd and 3rd place in this year's event. Thomas Genon only managed to finish in 4th place, thanks to a major mistake in his run. Dawid Godziek made a fantastic debut (or "come back", if you will) and the Polish rider is more than capable to stir and shake up the dirt jumping scene. And, most of all, he's hungry for some wins.


Fast forward 2000 years from last year's edition, we landed a rocket on a dirt planet in year 3000. The course hasn't changed much, except the general theme, of course. From the disco-lights and blond mullets, we travelled at speed of light into the future of astronauts, androids and Mad-Max post-apocalyptic world.

Matt Jones was going into the finals in a very good mood. Qualifying in first boosted his morale and gave him a lot of confidence for the main show.
I guess some things never change... Thomas Genon needs mechanical assistance from his father to tune up the bike and get ready for the finals.

We have a lift off!

Loek Quadflieg went into finals super hard. It was all or nothing for him! Sadly, a massive crash on the hip and a dislocated shoulder took him out of the competition.

Tomas Lemoine's highlight of the event was a safe landing of his first cash-roll. Unfortunately, he was unable to unleash his full potential during the finals due to a painful crash on his first run.

Joylessly, we witnessed many riders going down who needed their bikes picking up for them from the dirt. Paul Couderc was one of them...

Diego was another rider who was claimed by the cash-roll trick. He tried to step it up by mixing it with the X-up, but unfortunately, it didn't go well for him.

Lukas Knopf massively cased on the spine jump, which even caused him a mechanical problem. He fixed his bike, but wasn't able to fix his final score and ended up in the 16th place.

Tom Cardy had great runs in the finals. Safely finished in the 15th.

Erik was on fire all the weekend. He looked good and was riding like crazy. I am sure 14th place wasn't something he wanted. We expect good things coming from this young rider.

Paul Genovese and his awesome backflip-superman-seatgrab.

bigquotesSmall courses aren’t my strong suit but I still held my own out there. Good times with the slope homies and going home unscathed!Paul Genovese

Elof Lindh was stoked to be in the finals. In past couple years he suffered some dreadful injuries, so seeing him back at it is a great thing!

Antoine Honore crashed in his first run and he knew he had to step up in his second run to achieve a good result. And that's exactly what he did. 11th for the young Frenchman.

Simon Pages had nothing but good times in Thun and this nicely reflected in his end result. Simon opens the top 10.

Torqauto's run was solid and full of diverse tricks.

Lucas Huppert's cork 720 on the hip jump.

Lucas Huppert a 17-year-old Swiss rider who might not win the contest, but he most definitely won the crowd's heart. Amazing riding from this kid – stylish and perfectly executed tricks will take him places, for sure!

Jakub Vencl flat-drop backflip into the newly learnt cash-roll on the hip.

As per usual, Nicholi gave it all, but an under-rotated Twister buried his dream for winning the finals.

Dawid Godziek's fully committed to cash-roll trick.

Dawid had a long weekend at the office. He successfully pre-qualified and then qualified to the finals where he showed that he is not there by accident. He loved the event in Thun, took some notes for homework and now we can expect him coming in hot during the next event.


Thomas Genon wanted to repeat his success from 2015 when he won the Rocket Air event. A freaky slip-up out of the pedals after the trick on the hip ended this plan abruptly.

Sam Pilgrim's backflip double whip.

It's nuts to think Sam was the oldest rider at the contest. Time flies... But the years of competing taught him how to stay cool and composed to gain the best result possible.

bigquotesThis has to be the craziest run I’ve ever done! Unfortunately, the HUGE case on spine didn’t let me beat my first run score, but getting on the podium with 3rd place was amazing! Already pumped for the next contest.Sam Pilgrim

Alex Alanko swept the competition. Killer moves and mega-packed run with a variety of technical and spin tricks left him with a very well deserved 2nd place.

Alex was only less than two points away from the first place.

Matt Jones lifted by the outstanding performance earlier in the day during the qualification round, kept on riding this wave and he absolutely nailed it that night. Super-strong riding in the second round let him come on the top.

Matt's 720 no-handers are flawless.


Podium with the top 5 riders of the night.

Winner - Matt Jones

bigquotesI missed Swatch Rocket Air in 2017 because I was injured with a broken wrist. I've never had crazy amounts of luck here because usually "technical" tricks win over style and amplitude, but this year has been super good to me. I kind of did what I wanted to do and was comfortable with, trying to make it look good and it seemed it paid off. There was a lot of luck involved, there were a lot of crashes from other riders who have a huge edge on me, I am not the best rider here, no way, there are some insane riders here, but I guess there's always some good fortune needed in this sport and I guess, I managed to come out on top. It's amazing to win a gold event, there are so many positives to take away from this and I think I get the wildcard to be back at Crankworx, so I get a second chance, another life, which is awesome... Thanks to everyone involved, this contest is amazing, it's gonna go on forever, I am sure, because the crowd love it. Super happy! First place!Matt Jones

Full Replay







21 Comments

  • + 10
 Well done, Sammy P! It's great to see you on the pod.

No shots of my Calgary boy Max Langille? Rats!

Great shots by the way.
  • + 9
 hang on a minute you say Pilgrims the oldest rider.. he's only 27!?
  • + 2
 There were a few riders older than Pilgrim, see the birthdates
  • + 1
 @korev: Just because one of the photo captions said "It's nuts to think Sam was the oldest rider at the contest. Time flies... But the years of competing taught him how to stay cool and composed to gain the best result possible." Guess they got it wrong...
  • + 1
 It's not the oldest. Genon is actually older than him. The caption is not accurate. Still, Pilgrim is part of the oldest. When you see birthdates from 2001... Grey hairs are growing.
  • + 3
 @Rideuse67: @steezer @korev hey, guys! sorry, that's my bad! can't believe i missed thomas genon's birth-year when it's right below sam's /:

i genuinely thought that thomas is much younger.

i should write "one of the oldest" and there would never be an issue hahaha
  • + 3
 Well Genon actually is younger (1993). Don‘t know why they got it wrong... seems to be a problem with WIN/MAC...
  • + 1
 @IceCream7 well we all got confused! Big Grin But still I think what we can all agree on is that time flies.

@lunatyk no worries looks like it is not clear :p
  • + 1
 @Rideuse67: Who has grey hairs at the age of 17?
  • + 1
 @scott-townes: talking about myself I guess... Haha
  • + 3
 Reading the photo captions reminds you what a bodily sacrifice it takes to get to this level: " .....massive crash....painful crash....massive crash.....dreadful injury.....we witnessed many riders going down who needed their bikes picking up for them from the dirt."
  • + 5
 Matt Jones. Humility incarnate. Good lad.
  • + 2
 Tom Cardy's #1 fan. I love him in the Sam Pilgrim videos, he's super, super skilled, and never says anything. Cool personality.
  • + 4
 Q the e hate
  • + 1
 Mr E moped got third. Must have been too much pedaling
  • + 1
 @weebleswobbles: well, he looking a bit long in the tooth...
  • + 2
 A fine combination of Camembert and Gorgonzola.
  • + 1
 The judges were smokin some hard
  • + 1
 Those videos are amazing!
  • + 1
 can you even get a bike in a Vauxhall Adam?
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