Photo Epic: Slopestyle - Crankworx Whistler 2018

Aug 19, 2018 at 0:26
by Cameron Mackenzie  

The penultimate day of Crankworx Whistler 2018 saw a smoke-filled Boneyard play host to a jaw-dropping festival of freeride. Red Bull Joyride this year was hotly anticipated, especially given the battle between two of its biggest claimants for the crown; Nicholi Rogatkin and Brett Rheeder. The former was on a journey to lay claim to the win in Whistler plus the Triple Crown of Slopestyle, while the latter was looking to reclaim the top step having only won here once back in 2016 but otherwise always seeming to be in the shadow of the now absent Semenuk.

The first of two runs for the athletes saw an impressive start by a super smooth looking Emil Johansson, who impressed the judges so much he secured 84.5. Filled with emotion at the end of his run, we would see him wiping away tears and then being consoled by a just as emotional Soderstrom; Johansson was finally back in slopestyle.

Those who followed him would find it difficult to do better. Torquato Testa took a slam early on in his run, leaving him on a 27.5 going into the next round. Jakub Vencl managed a solid 72.0 despite only having had the call to compete a few hours before the competition commenced. Lukas Knopf scored a 62.25 which wasn’t a bad start to his first ever Joyride. Next up was Matt Jones - the only rider not wearing a full face helmet - and he reminded the crowd how smooth he is on track, including an impressive double backflip into a 720. The crowd went wild but despite his efforts he only managed a score of 68.5. Szymon Godziek infused his motocross style throughout his run and by all accounts ticked all the boxes, especially looking so calm and composed as he maintained his speed all the way down. Despite being called ‘Prince of Progression’ based on his previous appearances at Joyride where his tricks year on year would impress the judges each time, his efforts on his first run would only give him a score of only 61. Ryan Nyquist put down clean tricks as you would expect but on the last feature where we thought he would throw a 360 down, he didn’t manage to and just table-topped it. It made an impact as the judges awarded him 53.75. Anthony Messere rode his usual light-speed down the track but he came undone when trying to attempt a 360 tailwhip out from the Cabin feature. Previous Joyride winner Thomas Genon would be fighting for not just a podium place but also a place on next year’s FMBA World Tour. His tricks were smooth and flawless, despite slipping the pedal once just before the Kokanee Drop, and was awarded 77.75.

Newcomer to Joyride, Erik Fedko, would make a lasting impression, securing him a massive score of 88.25, knocking Johansson off the top step. Throwing his goggles into the crowd, he was clearly delighted that he managed to lay down his run and didn’t need to do anymore. Diego Caverzasi would be up next but would be nursing a possible broken thumb going into the competition after crashing earlier in practice. He would end up scoring 41.25 having ridden through the pain and throwing down some impressive tricks. The multi-talented Tomas Lemoine was also suffering from a crash the day before, although he managed a lot of triple combos. With a front flip onto the last feature and a truck-driver off, he scored 65.5.

Rogatkin laid down a classic run full of flawless spins, flips and consistent speed, including a double tailwhip off the Kokanee Drop. He would slot into first place with a score of 92.75. Last man down the course for the first run was Brett Rheeder; starting with a half-cab off the start drop, Rheeder wouldn’t hold back, including a oppo cork 720 into the Cabin, followed by a triple truck-driver out, but despite even more combos than you could shake a stick at, Rheeder’s run would abruptly come to an end of the Kokanee Drop as he tried a flat backflip tailwhip and miscalculated the rotation. He would walk away with a score of 50.25 and a whole lot of pressure for his second and final run.

Rheeder was floating above everyone else.

The bushfires have been causing havoc all week, but most of the Joyride practice went unaffected. Oh, how things changed come race day.

Red Bull Joyride Practice - Crankworx Whistler 2018
The man with the all the pressure on his shoulders. Could he deliver what many expected and stop the Triple Crown win in its tracks?

Red Bull Joyride Practice - Crankworx Whistler 2018
Whistler baby.

Red Bull Joyride Practice - Crankworx Whistler 2018
A new dawn was to bring a new day.

The calm before the storm.

War ready.

Rheeder starting the day with quite a push up.

Riders were greeted with a complete whiteout today, not to mention horrific air quality.

Lemoine and co watching on as the competition heated up.

Anthony Messere went down in both his runs, but that the price you pay when trying to reach the top.

Rheeder crashed pulling this flat drop flip whip during his first run but knew if he could stick it, it would be what he needed to contest the win

The make or break feature that was to be the undoing for a few today.

With the second run in full swing, and with so many of the top riders having to make their second run count, all eyes were on Rheeder who took to the track early in the final riders because of his below-par first run. Rheeder pulled an amazing set of tricks, adding more to his first run, he stomped the landing of his flat backflip tailwhip off the Kokanee Drop into the finish corral. The crowd went wild - we all knew that that was a killer run and one that Rogatkin would find hard to beat. The judges would score him a 94.50 and as he waited in the finish corral, his and everyone else’s eyes looked up to the last man down the Boneyard - Nicholi Rogatkin.

We’ve seen pressure like this before, think Soderstrom in 2013, and we all wondered whether the Triple Crown would have to wait another year. Rogatkin with the look of steely determination took to the course and like a man possessed with a combination of super-fast lightning and slopestyle mastery, he picked off each feature one by one, laying down an impressive set of tricks as he went, including his signature Twister, double backflips, and additional barspins wherein the first run he kept things straight. His run looked to be much cleaner than his first attempt too.

There was a sense of wonder in the air… could this be the run that would secure him the win and the elusive Triple Crown? It looked like it but would the judges think that as well? Side by side stood Rogatkin with Rheeder as they waited for the results. Time ticked on and then finally the score appeared on screen - 96.50. Rogatkin exploded with joy and relief; he had accomplished what no one else had managed to do so before him.

The dawn of the Rogatkin has finally come to pass.

That door didn't stay shut for long. The talent on course blew it wide open, if not off its hinges.

High or low? A question that many struggled to answer this weekend.

The infamous boner log was a feature that saw many big and creative tricks be thrown on.

To the moon thanks.

Canadian heckling.

Matt Jones dropping into one of the smoothest runs we have seen to date.

Ryan Nyquist started things off with a 360 bar - bar back.

Johannsen pulling some kind of big mac combo with extra sauce in his last run. Making things count.

As Rogatkin came into sight of the finish line the crowd went insane.

Technical features like the whale tail above the hut troubled a few riders with some only being able to flip, spin or straight air on & off it.

Rogatkin lining up a heater.

Brett Rheeder s half-cab of the start drop
Brett Rheeder's half-cab of the start drop was nothing short of brilliant.

Jones steezing one for the fans

Nyquist carving off the lip and into an old-school BMX style run.

Emil Johansson, the comeback kid.

One of the many human fidget spinners on course today.

It all came down to the final run of the last man down the hill. An all or nothing, go for broke run.

The day may have been Rogatkin's, but let's spare a thought for Rheeder who fought right till the end.

Your 2018 Red Bull Joyride Podium.


1. Nicholai Rogatkin - 96.50
2. Brett Rheeder - 94.50
3. Erik Fedko - 88.25

Full Results

Mentions: @officialcrankworx @cameronmackenzie @trevorlyden / @Fahhhmed


  • 38 6
 There was a time when the first front flip, back flip, 720, etc, etc looked forced and awkward. But that’s what it takes to progress the sport. Nicolai gets smoother and smoother every year and has forced everyone else to up their game. And man does he get under Rheeders skin.
  • 26 5
 Rheeder would have won if he didn't make his short film. (his words)
  • 8 15
flag fatfingur (Aug 19, 2018 at 7:55) (Below Threshold)
 @makripper: that's why semenuk decided not to compete anymore. It's either focus on winning or just doing vids. Rheeder is so talented on the bike. Not so much at answering interviews though.
  • 3 3
 yeah Cliff or Fox should prypay for some media training.
  • 21 1
 @daugherd: Media training so he can say generic things, like "I'm just trying my best". I'd rather athletes be honest and genuine even if that means what comes out of their mouth is not what is expected.
  • 5 11
flag fecalmaster (Aug 20, 2018 at 2:37) (Below Threshold)
 " Canadian heckling" hahahaha ,,, shut the front door hahaha. Ehhhy I'm filming a wack video ova heeeaa. Keep trying and we'll keep laughing. Rheeder needs a personality chip installed next time they bring it in for service.
  • 2 5
 Rheeder didn't win coz his right hand was bleeding from the crash. Lucky Nicholi.
  • 6 2
 @chyu: I think he stubbed his toe the night before also so they should have held the comp off till sunday.
  • 7 1
 @fecalmaster: You're an a*shole. Straight up.
  • 3 8
flag fecalmaster (Aug 20, 2018 at 14:12) (Below Threshold)
 @thepwnstar39: Is it that time of the month lady?
  • 17 1
 Sucks to see all that smoke in the air.
  • 8 0
  • 13 0
 Everybody vapes at Crankworx
  • 1 0
 our NOAA forecast for the day (though probably not from same fires):

Patchy smoke. Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 70. South wind around 5 mph.
Patchy smoke. Patchy fog between 4am and 5am. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 51. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Went for a ride. Not sure what damage I've done my lungs.
  • 8 1
 Rheeder was great, I got the best photo yesterday of him and my son who idolizes Brett. My ten year old son wants to compete and rides many disiplines. The pros inspire our youth. I would like to thank all the riders who brought their A game. Bandaids and guaze will always be on the shopping list. LOL
  • 10 1
 Make slopestyle impossible for hardtails again
  • 4 1
 "Ryan Nyquist started things off with a 360 bar - bar back." -- That's called a Backtrailer, a trick he invented in 1996. Backtrail was the name of a sick jump trail in northern california, and the trick was super amazing when he did it. So then anything that was the most amazing thing but a little sketch became backtrail as in, "Semenuk's first half cab tailwhip was so backtrail!" There you have it. haha
  • 9 3
 Cant get under Rheeders skin. His spandex pants are too tight
  • 11 0
 Rivalries are good. Look at minaar and gwin. Totally different approaches to racing, riding and life, but great for the sport.
  • 6 3
 I think one of the most exhausting parts of Pinkbike comments is hearing people talk about what other people wear. It's completely juvenile, and if you're not over it at this point in humanities existence you need to spend a year at a buddhist monastery or some shit and learn to get over it.
  • 3 1
 What was the story with Brett's interview right before his first run? Something about beating Rogatkin and not letting him have the triple crown? So strange and not like him at all. I wonder what question was asked.
  • 5 0
 There's likely more context behind it, but basically him saying he's not going to give Rogatkin the win if he has anything to say about it. Pretty typical response but the PB community loves to hate on it.
  • 2 0
 @kbakes: Word. It's a competitive mentality. Ever rider there wanted to stop him from getting the crown.
  • 6 6
 Ho-Lee Fuk. That pic of Rheeder's half-cab....notice he rides right off FAKIE. Does not hop around half cab style (easier) off the rear wheel. He pops off his front wheel, going backwards. Wonder if the judges noticed that? I don't think you can compare the 2 runs. Both totally different. Both bloody amazing.
  • 2 0
 Anyone find it funny that the person writing the captions completely misunderstood "shut the front door"
  • 5 2
 Rogatkin just smashed it
  • 2 0
 Rheeder's run was better.
  • 4 2
 What was the surprise?
  • 1 0
 Sick shots. Thanks for the coverage PB.
  • 1 1
 Boys these shots are legendary! @trevorlyden @cameronmackenzie
  • 1 2
 I know I’m out of the loop on this but, where has Semenuk been?
  • 2 0
 He has decided to fully focus his efforts on filming. I guess it also means he went out with a bang from last year. But he still will be at rampage
  • 1 1
 Don’t think it’s really worth it for him to compete as much anymore. Not like he needs the winning money.
  • 4 7
 Rickey Rogatkin only goes left
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