We've spent the last week and a half wandering the Whistler village, riding the bike park, watching some mindblowing riding, and so much more. Here are a few of our takeaways from a wild week in British Columbia.
1. Freeride ain't dead
We saw crashes, we saw insane trick combos, we saw the highs and lows of the sport this weekend, but the defining moment of this year's Joyride was Tomas Lemoine's big send. Yep, out of all the absurdly technical moves, the one we'll remember is a big old huck.
While most riders approached the final feature as a step-on-step-off, airing up and maybe throwing a barspin before tricking the flat drop off, Lemoine charged in and took off from what was barely a lip, cleared the first case opportunity at the end of the drop and kept soaring over it all to the landing. That type of chaotic, send-it, rockstar energy is what created freeride and what we hope to keep seeing in the future.
2. Technical difficulty still wins Joyride
Technical wizard Emil Johansson took his eighth consecutive win at a Crankworx slopestyle event, to no one's surprise. The Swede manages to pack more tricks into his combos than anyone else, and the technical difficulty of what he lays out on the course is unmatchable by his competitors. The difficulty of Johansson's tricks is so hard to comprehend that some feel he's overscored. For us mere mortals, an ultra-technical double downside tailwhip 360 or triple truckdriver or big invert 540 at some point all start to just look like a bunch of crazy spins that don't look all that much different from the other, less difficult combos we saw from the rest of the field. That doesn't undermine his run by any means, and I personally think he hands-down deserved the win. We can't award a win based on vibes and cajones alone, no matter how great the big huck energy.
3. Australia dominated the Canadian Open DH
We've all heard the jokes about Whistralia given the high number of Aussies living in Whistler, but this time it's about the podium. Five of the six podium finishers in the pro men's and women's fields at the Canadian Open DH were from Australia. In the men's, Troy Brosnan took the top honors, followed by Peter Knott and Kye A'Hern. The next three finishers - 4th, 5th, and 6th place - were all Canadians, but Australian Aaron Gungl took 7th. In the top 10, there was representation from five Canadians, four Australians, and one New Zealander.
We saw a similar situation in the women's race. Tracey Hannah topped the podium, followed closely by Sian A'Hern (a good day for the A'Herns), and Louise Ferguson, a Scot living in New Zealand, took third. Of the 10 riders on the start list, four were from Australia, three were Canadian, and we saw one each from Chile, Argentina, and Great Britain.
4. Women's tricks are at an all-time high
There was one moment that hit me especially hard as I watched the women's Speed & Style play on the big screen in the Whistler village: Harriet Burbidge-Smith and Alma Wiggberg were matched up in the round of eight riders, and as both aired off the first big jump on the course, Haz backflipped as Alma threw a 360. Just last year, Robin Goomes put down the first-ever backflip in Crankworx women's competition. This year, at least half the riders in that round of eight had backflips on lock, many able to incorporate other tricks into their flip combos. Harriet's backflip in that run wasn't even enough for her to advance to the next round. Despite being at the sharp end of women's freeride progression, the level is just that high. It's incredible.
5. Jackson Goldstone can throw down outside of the race tape, too
We've become accustomed to seeing Jackson Goldstone on top of the World Cup juniors podium, but it's sometimes easy to forget how well-rounded a rider the young Canadian is. His 5th place finish in Speed & Style was plenty respectable in that particular men's field, and we saw him throw down some insane style in the Whip-Off to take the win - actually the third Whip-Off victory of his career - ahead of a stacked category of Crankworx podium veterans.
• Tim Bringer took home 2nd place at his first-ever Joyride (though not his first Crankworx), so we expect to see lots more from him in the future.
• Adding the satellite dish feature to the Joyride course allowed riders to add in a bit of flair that they normally wouldn't try to pack into a slope run - Emil Johansson with the nac-nac, for example. I'd like to see more unique features like that one on these courses.
• The new pump track format was a bit odd, favoring the riders who could power through the straightaway and disadvantaging the riders who are especially strong in the corners. The four-rider head-to-head thing was... interesting. Exciting and efficient, I guess? The jury is out on whether that change makes sense, and I'm curious to see what Joyride does with that in the future.
At very least bring back the Best Trick comp, that's all people care about on the S&S anyways.
"What's your drink of choice?"
He just said so.
Why isn’t it more popular, should make for great tv, and on-site viewing.
I want it back
Always interesting bikes in 4X
This sure turned into a pretty odd kids event. Basically a pedalled drag race.
Someone doing the first 360 off a drop is going to be more mind blowing than someone doing three barspins instead of two.
I don’t know enough about it. Genuinely interested to know what the next big thing could be.
All the current slopestyle contests have the same features, and as @safety (sory for the downvote, meant to upvote) said, there needs to be more flexibility with actually trying "unique" stuff without being penalized for slipping a pedal. The riders have to pour so much time into just doing the same tricks on repeat to make sure they are perfect that the individual riding styles kind of get lost. It would be cool to see it become about who actually has the best bike handling skills... I still think Emil would win though haha!
Definitely would rather be the dude that made the crowd go bananas on this one.
Judged freestyle competitions always get worse. Jam format with a few different awards (voted on by the riders) seems to the be the least worst option.
That will elevate the event 100x, provide an epic experience and the crowd pictures of the event will be next level.
Join Pinkbike Login