A fifth Joyride victory for the slopestyle GOAT.
If you're a slope competitor and your name isn't Brandon Semenuk, you're probably glad that he doesn't compete as much as he used to. The Whistler native was the first man on course when the day of the big show rolled around, and his flawless run scored a well-deserved 89.80 that wouldn't be topped. Semenuk threw down huge at every opportunity, but it was also his precision that was mind-boggling - straight to the pedals, no over-rotations, and a calmness that mirrors his off the bike persona.
Could the always exciting Nicholi Rogatkin, aka Mr. Go For Broke, have beat that 89.80 if he hadn't gone down on his first run and blown a tire on his second, thereby taking the Triple Crown? Maybe, but Rogatkin did crash and he did blow a tire, while Semenuk's exacting run looked like an easy cruise down B-Line for him, which speaks volumes of his skill.
The Sweetest Victory.
After a hard fought 2nd place in 2016, Whistler local and Rocky Mountain Urge bp Rally Team racer Jesse Melamed had some unfinished business when the EWS' premier round went off during last month's Crankworx festivities. The second step on the podium isn't anything to shrug about, but Melamed had been leading last year's event up until Richie Rude, the final racer of the day, bumped him to second on the last stage. For his part, Jesse was positive about the whole thing, but you know that he's been thinking about that day ever since.
This time around, he made good by winning stages two, three, and four, and took a 14-second lead over Sam Hill into the final test of the day. Jesse brought it home to a cheering crowd and took his first EWS overall victory, and he couldn't have done it in a better place or at a better time. His teammate, Remi Gauvin, also netted his best ever finish, with a 5th place. Not a bad weekend for the Rocky crew.
From little wheels to big wheels.
The best BMX'ers in the world are some of the gnarliest, most technically skilled dudes alive, so you might expect them to not have much trouble if they wanted to take those skills to 26'' hoops. That hasn't quite been the case, however, with some notable names finding the transition to be more difficult than they might have thought.
Nyquist has had some ups and downs with his own move to big wheels, but his 3rd place at the Crankworx Joyride event, just edging out Messere, proves what we already knew: Nyquist is an animal on a bike, regardless of the wheel size. Oh yeah, he's also 38 years old, by the way.
The Winning Machine.
With his victory in Val di Sole, Italy, YT's Aaron Gwin took another World Cup overall title, but it could be argued that the crown jewel of his season was his mind-blowing run at the previous event in Mont-Sainte Anne, Canada. In what looked to be a weather affected final, with torrential rain coming down hard enough that no one actually expected Gwin to be able to post a competitive time, the American did far more than that: his barnstorming run was good enough for victory
, despite the conditions being far, far worse for him than most of his fellow racers. It was a win for the ages, one that rivals even Hill's legendary performance in Champery many years ago, and it helped Gwin secure his overall title that he later wrapped up in Italy.
Tahnée Seagrave and Myriam Nicole
A breakout, three win season for Seagrave.
Tahnée Seagrave has to be pretty stoked with how her season went, even if Myriam Nicole ended up taking the overall title. Seagrave won three World Cup rounds, including the brutal Val di Sole event that calls for maximum risk taking, and 2017 was certainly her breakout year.
It was Myriam Nicole that took the World Cup overall, however, with the French racer notching her first title and both racers going into the Cairns World Championships with a whole load of steam behind them.
Women's World Cup Racing
Drama and politics put a damper on a great season.
The strange tale of Scott's Jenny Rissveds
Top tier women's racing saw much drama this August, with retirements, questionable team selection choices, and politics seeming to go hand in hand with one of the more exciting seasons in memory. Radon's Manon Carpenter, a perpetual challenger, announced her retirement in the middle of the month
, and she had this to say: ''Over the races this year I’ve been finding it harder to face up to difficult situations - high consequence sections or changing conditions - and during National Champs weekend I came to the conclusion that I just didn't want to take the risks involved with racing at 100% anymore.'' Carpenter has to be applauded for making that call, one that must have surely been difficult, and it's good to see her go out by choice rather than by injury or lack of support. That said, there's only a handful of female racers realistically being in the running for a World Cup victory, and we'll miss seeing Manon out on course.
, Olympic Champion and World Cup powerhouse, is confusing and, ultimately, shows how politics can spoil things. The gist is that Swedish Cycling signed a contract for all of their World Champs riders to wear POC kit from head to toe but, as Scott team manager, Thomas Frischknecht explains, ''Jenny already has a contract with her trade team, Scott/SRAM, to wear a Scott helmet, and she also has a worldwide contract for all competition to wear Oakley eyewear.'' This is where things went south, with Swedish Cycling saying that Rissveds is obliged to wear POC kit, which is, in effect, forcing her to violate her contract with Scott and other sponsors. Eeesh. There's a bit more to it than that, but the end result is that you won't see Rissveds at World Champs, despite her deserving to be there.
And speaking of politics ruining things, the French Cycling Federation's decision to not select Morgane Charre
for their World Champs team, even though she qualified for a spot, is just ridiculous. She had agreed to pay for her own flight to the event, an insult in itself, when the federation gave her the bad news, apparently on relatively short notice. Talk about no respect...
ENVE and Santa Cruz
When things boom in a very public way.
The Syndicate's Greg Minnaar had a chance of taking the World Cup overall title at the final round on the notoriously brutal Val di Sole track, but it wasn't meant to be. First, a high-speed crash saw his V10 slap an apparently indestructible pole on the side of the course, a pole that split his V10 into two pieces in front of spectators and, unfortunately for Santa Cruz, a bunch of cameras
Thankfully, Greg was unhurt - the Pole of Doom could have snapped his leg just as easily as the V10's carbon tubes - and Marshy, his mechanic, was a god of the pits for building Greg a new race bike in just 45-minutes, a bike that Minnar went on to qualify an incredible 2nd aboard. Take a moment to appreciate how the South African and Marshy turned that one around.
It would have been a hell of a story if Greg had converted the disastrous practice, heroic bike rebuild by Marshy, and 2nd qualifying spot into a win on Sunday, but World Cup racing is far more often a cruel bastard than a fairytale kind of thing, and that was the case for Minnaar and ENVE when it counted. There's plenty of opportunities on the Val di Sole track to smash things into pieces, and that's exactly what happened to Minnaar's ENVE rear wheel in the most public way possible, with it going from round to oval to a bunch of different pieces in front of everyone's cameras. The timing wasn't ideal given that ENVE released their new rim lineup only a handful of days later, but it was worse for Greg as it ruled him out of the overall.
Minnaar's eventful World Cup final is a reminder that everything can break, and there's no way that an aluminum frame would have survived that Mike Tyson-like knockout impact with what is apparently the world's strongest wood pole.
Interbike Moves to Reno
The location isn't the issue
I'm of two minds on this one... Yes, Las Vegas is a shithole that's mostly full of shitty things, but it also makes a lot of sense to hold a tradeshow there. Hotels are relatively inexpensive, as is the (sometimes questionable) food, and the infrastructure makes getting around very easy. But the argument goes that since we're a healthy, outdoorsy sport, we should be in a place where people can actually enjoy the outdoors while they're there, and the riding at nearby Bootleg isn't exactly world class.
So the show has been moved to Reno, Nevada, and the riding at the nearby Northstar bike park is undeniably good. That doesn't matter, though, because the root cause of Interbike's lackluster past few years sure as hell isn't the location: it's the show's late-September date.
The very large majority of people don't go to Interbike to actually ride bikes, but they do go to see and learn about new bikes and gear - Interbike's Vegas locale made that very convenient. There's no arguing that Reno and Northstar are nicer places than the hole that is Vegas, but the reason that Interbike has lost its importance is due to everything being seen and orders already being placed. If Interbike wanted to regain its relevance, it needed to happen before Eurobike, but that's impossible now that zee German's have moved their show to early July.
Sure, Reno is a nicer place to spend time than Vegas, but that's not the point. It doesn't matter where Interbike is held if it's still happening in late September.