Video: The State of Slopestyle

Aug 11, 2015 at 13:31
by Red Bull Bike  
Action sports reach further into the world of mainstream each year, earning legitimacy in the eyes of media and governing sports organizations. And every August, Red Bull Joyride, part of the Red Bull Signature Series of events, celebrates the pinnacle of slopestyle mountain biking competition as part of the Whistler Crankworx Festival. Few sports have come so far in such a short time, as the burgeoning world of slopestyle mountain biking continues on an explosive trajectory of popularity. With the sport receiving more support from new events such as the Crankworx Triple Crown of Slopestyle, you have to wonder what the future has in store.

How will the sport progress, and what will the new face of slopestyle competition look like?

Two leaders of the pack, Brandon Semenuk and Brett Rheeder have a strong vision of how the sport will continue to evolve, and by no means does it show any signs of slowing down. Semenuk, a three time winner at Red Bull Joyride, and Rheeder shared their thoughts on just what will shape the future of the sport, from the stylish vs. technical progression of tricks, specialized skills vs. well-rounded riding to their very own rivalry...

Style vs. Tricks


Progression in any sport is often driven by increasing technicality; more rotations, more flips or more trick combinations push the boundaries and up the ante for athletes. Making those tricks look effortless is just as important, with style displaying a level of confidence in the execution. But then sometimes… a stylish whip just feels “You need to be fluid and consistent with your tricks, but also give it that special touch that’s kind of got that ‘wow’ factor.

"You want to do that trick and it just looks that much better than the other guy’s trick.” – Brandon Semenuk

Sometimes it’s hard to ride the way that you want because it’s not always that you want to do flip double whips, and flip whips and front flips all the time” – Brett Rheeder

Brandon vs. Brett


Rivalry can only exist in a sport that has matured enough to develop a deep history and cast of characters who have challenged one another time and again. And such is the rivalry between Brandon Semenuk and Brett Rheeder, two athletes at the top of their game. While the two friends and competitors may not enjoy the ‘Brandon and Brett Show’, they agree it is a necessary evil that propells the sport of slopestyle mountain biking, driving new and emerging athletes to continue pushing the sport.

We’re just friends. It’s all cool, I don’t picture it as a rivalry but those are guys that are ontop of the sport and pushing it, and yeah I want to beat him.” – Brandon Semenuk

It keeps Brandon and I on our toes. We’re probably both trying to do the craziest tricks every… we’re both trying to one-up each other.” – Brett Rheeder

Specialized Skills vs. All-Around


Many young riders starting out on a mountain bike are moving directly into slopestyle given it’s rise in popularity. But for veteran athletes who began riding before it even really existed, they have pulled from a varied skill set influenced from different disciplines to bring slopestyle to where it is today. It seems that both Brett and Brandon agree that all-around experience is essential to bringing fresh approaches to slopestyle riding.

If you’re bred into slopestyle, you’re probably going to follow the way slopestyle’s always been. But if you’re coming in with different backgrounds like enduro, crosscountry or downhill, I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of different spark.” – Brett Rheeder

Watch Red Bull Slopestyle live on Pinkbike and also available on Red Bull TV August 15th from 4:30pm – 7:30pm PST.


MENTIONS: @redbullbike




55 Comments

  • 68 3
 After watching Revel in the Chaos I'm honestly going to say Semenuk has the best f*cking whip in the game, on both the big bike and the slope bike. Over the years I've seen him do a lot of variations but ho lee shit the one he's been putting out in that flick and the one that earned him Best Whip at Cruz Fest are ridiculously good looking.

Also, his bar to bar back & triple truck... f*ck it if you haven't bought the 5 dollar film yet go steal some lunch money from some kid and watch it.

Love watching these two dogfight, but I feel like Semenuk has been the innovator while Brett follows suit.
  • 3 22
flag Frilko (Aug 11, 2015 at 14:39) (Below Threshold)
 Brandon's whip is beyond "moto".
  • 4 26
flag jorgeoicata (Aug 11, 2015 at 15:45) (Below Threshold)
 Bernardo Cruz bitches!!!!!!!
  • 28 2
 That cork 720 on a dh bike in revel in the chaos also shows how much of a beast he is. Long live the king
  • 13 4
 I feel like Rheeder is under looked as a downhill rider
  • 21 4
 One more spoiler on Revel, and we'll discuss about Games of Thrones here.
  • 7 1
 It makes you want to watch it more though doesn't it ?
  • 59 2
 "You don't want to just hit that tailwhip-button" We all know who he's talking about
  • 14 5
 Yes, but I still love to see it!
  • 8 2
 I don't follow slopestyle that much , can you help me on that one ?
  • 50 3
 ***Cough***Rogatkin***Cough***
  • 10 2
 Cash roll tailwhip?
  • 31 2
 "There's a diffrence between riders that have style..." (Martin Söderström)
"... versus riders have lots of tricks" (Martin Söderström)

@vl95 He's probably talking about Martin Söderström who is unfortunately not gonna compete in Joyride this year due to an injury
  • 22 4
 It showed a clip of rogation double a triple directly after that line was said, shots fired.
  • 25 4
 I don't understand why people want Rogatkin to dial it back. The kids got ridiculous skill on a bike. Let him go for broke with his whole bag of tricks.
  • 10 3
 I don't believe Semenuk was bashing rogatkin with that comment and it's kinda immature that you guys are all pointing fingers. Semenuk was just using that to support his argument
  • 1 1
 didn't see that statement in article.
  • 14 1
 Watching people like Rogatkin ride seems to me like playing a video game. Every competition run of his is pretty similar, and while he has mad skills for tricks, they all look exactly the same. Compare that to someone like Söderstrom, who probably has one of the nicest styles but doesn't have the same bulging bag of tricks (For example joyride 2 years ago where he did a spin or a tail whip on every jump). I guess what I'm trying to say is, You need a mix of style and tricks to win. Rogatkin is 90% tricks, 10% style. Soderstrom is the opposite, and Rheeder and Brandom are about 50/50. Thats why they win everything.
  • 11 0
 I'm looking for it but I still can't find the tailwhip-button on my bike....
  • 1 3
 hated that sentence! implying rogatkin wouldnt be able to beat them IF he could just finish a run without mistakes. PLUS: he can win a contest without tailwhips compared to söderström who would then only be able to druck driver everything. i love how brandon rides but i couldnt see much style on his first run (the one that placed him second) in les deux alps either... @DHMF actually Söderström doesnt have a lot of tricks.
  • 4 0
 @todesengel Seriously? He has much more tricks than many other riders with all these combination tricks and I'm sure he will be able to do the cork 720 very soon after his comeback!
  • 4 0
 I hope he makes a comeback!!! I loved watching him ride.
  • 1 0
 @tchach11 Maybe he's back for Rampage Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @DHMF I don't think Martin would choose Rampage as his comeback contest.
  • 41 7
 rogatkin needs to put his visor for style points
  • 40 6
 These videos could be called "why rogatkin can't win a diamond event."
  • 19 0
 I wouldn't consider myself a big slope style fan. When I was young it was cool but I've gotten too old to keep up with all the flippity spinneroos. Having said that, I really appreciate seeing semenuk in the sport. Dude is such a hard worker, super talented and very cerebral. I figure that he could excel in a lot of other sports and a lot of other interests/ careers. Good to have him riding bikes, regardless of a fair number of idiots crying about how he never smiles/ lacks emotion in competition.
  • 9 0
 He doesn't have to smile or be emotional, he provides enough action for the fans to display all the emotion needed!

I mean come on, you ever tried watching him and NOT get emotional?
  • 20 1
 The premise of this article is utter BS and pure Red Bull marketing hype. In fact, slopestyle is at it lowest point since the creation of the FMB. Here are the true facts about the State of Slopestlye.

1. There are not enough events to truly call it a series. There are just 4 Slopestyle events between March and August. Not even 1 per month. How can we expect to maintain interest and engage new fans when the last event occurred so long ago, no one can remember what happened. It's the laziest, least compelling, least marketable schedule anywhere in action sports.

2. The current system discourages athletes from participating in FMB events. Just a few years ago, it was possible to see top names competing every other week in the summer. Now, because only diamond events count to the championship, top athletes no longer feel the need to travel to great events like 26 Trix and CFF. And why should they risk injury for an event that doesn't even count? The sport pays the price because fewer headliner appearances means drawing fans to watch and become excited about the sport. Semenuk, Rheeder and Soderstrom are names that get people in the door. Without them, A course is just a heap of dirt.

Dont believe the system is self-sabotaging? Case in point, Brett Rheeder skipped CFF, and event he has gone to since forever, because he doesnt want to ruin his shot at $50k. Good for him, but the sport suffers because of a crappy championship system. What's more, Crankworx now brags that Semenuk only has to show up 3 times a year to stay relevant. Meanwhile other events draw fewer viewers and less sponsorship dollars. Slopestyle needs more great events for growth, not to hobble the ones it already has.

3. The ladder for amateurs into the diamond series has all but disappeared. There is just 1 event in the entire western hemisphere where an athlete can get noticed and possibly get an invite to a diamond event. Are you the next coming of Semenuk, but can't get out of work to travel to CO or did you have a bad day or did you catch a cold? Oh well. Grind it out for another 12 months in obscurity without any sponsor support and try again next year. It's a big FU to up-and-comers from the FMB. Thanks to point 2, this will only get worse. After all, why spend all the money on an event when none of the marquee athletes show up? It's like the leaders in the sport don't care. Oh, you think you can get rich running an event, well....

4. Diamond events can't sustain themselves. The Bearclaw Invitational was cancelled this year for lack of support. Some event organizers, like Bearclaw, aren't expecting to get rich, but they do hope they aren't going to go bankrupt over an event. If the biggest most established events are cancelling themselves for lack of sponsor support and top athletes aren't showing up and the series has no excitement around it, why should a new event take the financial risk? It would be dumb.

5. FMB is designed to line the pockets of a few, not for the benefit of the sport. How did the sport get so screwed? How did it create a format that tears down the sport rather builds it up? Just look at who's on the board. DK from Crankworx and TR from Rasolution--diamond event organizers. They've create a system that drives sponsors to their events. I mean, why would you want to sponsor a meaningless amateur event with no top name riders when you can sponsor a diamond event? Good for them. Too bad they're screwing us in the process.

But in fairness, we're all to blame. Top athletes should want to give back to the sport that has given them a career. Saying you'll only show up at three events in 12 months is not helping to grow the sport for a future generation. You're only being selfish. Athletes need to demand a system that encourages more events to drive more attention to the sport, to sell more bikes, to eventually create a bigger pool of funds for more and larger sponsorships.

And we as fans need to tell sponsors we appreciate their support.

And we all need to tell FMB that it's our sport and we expect a hell of a lot more from them than we're getting or were not going to let them drive our bus for much longer.
  • 3 2
 not 100% true. I count 16 slopestyle events (bronze,silver,gold,diamond) in the year, not 4.
Big names not going simple events?Its good! Imagine, u are a good local rider and when u go some silver contests u already know, that sem/rheeder win it, is it good?Bronze/silver/gold contests is good for entry to the professional sport.Diamond are for big names.
  • 3 6
 I don't want to read the book of rants by co-mtb thank you.
  • 5 0
 @Hyperx You're right. I meant to say there are only 4 Slopestyle events that count towards the World Championship. I agree with your other point as well, but I think the Gold/Silver levels should be a mix of top athletes and ams. How can ams really show how good they are if they can't compete against the best? Doesn't giving them the option to compete against the best push them and show them what it takes to be in the highest levels of the sport? What am wouldn't want to the opportunity to compete against Rheeder or Semenuk?
  • 4 0
 There's no chance of an easy way in with the diamond series anymore. Once you're in, you're in. But to get up there and manage to somehow push your way into the few diamond spots that are possible to get into, is gunna cost a hell of a lot of money for anyone outside of Europe/ North America, and it takes a whole season to even get the chance next year.
People forget that even crankworx used to be an open qualifier and everyone had a chance to earn a spot to compete.. Remember the year they let Messere in? It wasn't as open that year as it was in the past, but with a little persuasion he was allowed to show his stuff and make a name for himself. Now days there's no chance of an unknown rider dropping in at Joyride and showing everyone what they're made of. Wasn't it so much more exciting when unknown riders could turn up and then kill it and blow everyone away?
Invite only events and the FMB are really holding the sport back from a lot of potential new stars of the sport.
  • 3 0
 Kinda reminds me of the contest snowboarding scene really, which at the moment is one if not the most progressive action sport at the moment. A few thoughts:

1. The young guns need to compete against the top riders to get in the spotlight, to get used to the pressure and to get that good to finally win against the topriders. It`s actually a circle. The student gets the master and then get beat again by the student.

2. There need to be high level contests like the Burton Open series, that are really "open" for anybody. Last year a kid from Norway won the Burotn European Open that qualified himself whitout even having an invite for example.

3. Every contest of the FMB serie should count for the series, with more or less points to earn depending on the contests ranking. According the points you get, you should be able to qualify yourself as a young rider for a diamond or gold contest via pre-qualifiers.

That way you make it possible, that young riders get into the scene, get recognized and get better. This will make the sport more progressive and more attractive.
  • 1 0
 The system the fmb had in 2011-2012 was okay, but the diamond series stuff is BS.
  • 11 0
 "God needs the Devil. The Beatles needed The Rolling Stones. Even Diane Sawyer needed Katie Couric. Will you be my Katie Couric?"
  • 6 0
 Hopefully the two Canadians keep the attention towards Canada/North America as fmb slowly is removing top events from North America. Only two big events this year here. CFF and Joyride. Plus (Rampage) . If the Europeans ever start taking top steps slope style will disappear here
  • 10 5
 I think Rheeder and Semenuk are a step above all others but as that was a shot directed to Rogatkin I have to say Rogatkin is bringing a different set of tricks to slope and that is always good. Can Brett or Semenuk even do a triple whip? Competition is always good and they each bring a different set of tricks and style. It helps the sport grow
  • 9 1
 I think its more about how clean Rheeder and Semenuk can land their tricks. Not to mention their style. In my opinion Rogatkin's style is more "stock", don't get me wrong, his tricks are amazing, and his skills on a bike are obvious. Rheeder and Semenuk just make difficult tricks look so damn simple.
  • 1 0
 “If you’re bred into slopestyle, you’re probably going to follow the way slopestyle’s always been. But if you’re coming in with different backgrounds like enduro, crosscountry or downhill, I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of different spark."
  • 8 1
 And this is yet another reason why I love being Canadian!!!!
  • 11 4
 rogatkin needs to learn to 3 drops. instead of always tailwhippin them
  • 2 1
 footplant 3 drops!
  • 5 0
 I LOVE their answers to the Brett vs. Brandon thing. Those guys know why they're out there and I think it shows some serious maturity in the way they answered that question.
  • 4 0
 It's cool to see what both Brandon and Brett think you need to take the win at Joyride.
  • 1 0
 "Action sports reach further into the world of mainstream each year, earning legitimacy in the eyes of media and governing sports organizations"

There's nothing at all mainstream about all the flippetty whippetyness served up at Joyride. Insanity may be more appropriate.

And let's hope that legitimacy manages to survive in the face of hastily dreamt up events involving Crimson Bovine's marketing department.
  • 2 0
 Martin, Brett and brandon are the 3 riders who have style AND tricks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 6 5
 All the top riders are so nasty and have their own signature to their riding. With that said...TOMMY G FOR THE WIN!!!
  • 3 0
 GO SEMENUK!!!
  • 3 0
 The real winner is Trek
  • 1 0
 It's going to be an interesting shoot-out for this saturday!!
  • 5 6
 Yeahhhh Belgium for the win !!!!!
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