The format often goes the same way at a slopestyle final; the favorite stomps an insane first run that nobody can touch, the competition fizzles hard on second runs and all we see is a victory lap with a token trick on the last jump for the crowds. Well nope, not this time. This time we were treated to a quite the showdown, a real face-off... a battle royale if you will. It was Nicholi Rogatkin versus Brett Rheeder and the gloves were off.
Having laid down a 94.33 in run 1, it seemed Rheeder had the green light to push on to Whistler ready to fight for the triple crown and the $25,000 bounty, but Rogatkin turned out to have other ideas, like taking it for himself, and threw down one of the most downright aggressive and mind-blowingly technical runs in the history of mountain biking, to end with a cashroll tail whip.
Great, combo-rich rides from Tomas Lemoine, sheer trick madness from Szymon Godziek and dialled, technical brilliance from Emil Johansson were among the other highlights that made the freshman year at Crankworx Innsbruck truly one to remember. With every rider dropping in pulling out all the stops to impress on a well-shaped course in front of the magnificent Austrian Alps, we had one unmissable summer's day on our hands.
Logan Peat visualizing his run just before he drops in.
Nicholi Rogatkin easing into an afternoon of heavy spins.
Matt Jones spun some of the steeziest 360s of the week no doubt about it.
The Brit brought all the right moves once again but could not stick his double backflip and put a big score on the board.
Mehdi Gani seems to be riding on another level this year, but was unable to stomp the run he'd dreamed of.
Casual warm up exercises on the opening drop with Rogatkin.
Lemoine had combos for days which would earn him an incredible third place.
Scholze ready to send.
Reed Boggs started his run with a fastplant 360 off the SRAM drop.
Fronty no-hander for the Canadian who simply can't avoid going massive.
Anthony Messere with flip bar out of the whale tale.
Jakub Vencl soaring like some kinda giant Czech eagle.
Nico Scholze showcased crazy backflip combos like this heelclicker flip on the first set.
Scholze's back was looking like a slab of well-seasoned, grilled beef following his crash in Les Gets, but you better believe he sent his runs here in Austria anyway.
Scholze's signature back flip tsunami madness... because he can.
Ryan Nyquist with a truckdriver down the boner log.
Logan Peat laid down an impressive second run this afternoon to break into the 80s.
Torquato Testa got third in Rotorua but was not able to lay it down once again here in Innsbruck.
Thomas Genon concerned on the wind after getting wiped out just a couple of weeks back..
Tommy G ridin' free. 82 points and 6th for the ex-Joyride winner.
Luckily there weren't any serious crashes during the competition, but quite a few riders were blowing their tires.
Spinning his bars not once, not twice but three times seems to be just Emil's thing.
Emil Johansson tailwhips upside down on the second hip jump.
Johansson's double down whips are pretty special.
Szymon Godziek put together a crazy run starting things off with a truckdriver.
My, oh my, does Godziek have some moves... After setting the bar high with an 86 on run 1 he wanted more, but came unstuck at the final hurdle, settling for 4th place.
Emil Johansson did a 360 triple bar to downside tail-whip, but unfortunately slipped a pedal.
The speed and style number one waits for the all clear to drop.
Tomas Lemoine spins of the big drop in front of the epic mountain scenery.
Lemoine wrapped an amazing week in Austria nailing third place with all kinds of combos.
Bronze for Lemoine and the stoke was high.
Rogatkin about to drop bombs... serious ones.
We wonder if Nicholi Rogatkin got electrified by the power cables above the starting drop as his run was an absolutely shocker.
One of the most ferocious runs the world has seen on a slopestyle course, no bones about it.
Nicholi Rogatkin's famous and formidable Twister.
Who needs doubles when you can have triples? Three times a charm on the tail whip for Rogatkin...
Rogatkin busting his double tail whip off the whale tail, before the ultimate icing on the cake; a cashroll tailwhip.
Sheer disbelief. What a final...
To everyone's amazement, not least Brett Rheeder's, the stakes had just been upped and there would be no victory lap today.
Rheeder's valiant attempt to take down Rogatkin bumped him more than one point, but it was still not enough to take gold.
Rheeder 720 bar-spinning like a hurricane.
The double bar 360 off the step down.
With a triple crown on the line, Rheeder gave it absolutely everything he had in the tank, finishing on a flip double whip.
Crazy, crazier, craziest. Nicholi Rogatkin is one of a kind.
A head-to-head battle that could not have been more thrilling.
Rogatkin took his second win of the season setting him up to claim the triple crown and the massive prize purse.
Rogatkin, Rheeder and Lemoine hit the showers after a hard day in the sun.
Shippin' up to Boston. Job done for the East Coast prodigy.