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2021 Pinkbike Awards: Performance of the Year Nominees

Nov 30, 2021 at 18:59
by Sarah Moore  
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Best Performance Nominees


Every mountain bike competition is exciting to watch, all the way from the local level to the world stage, but there are some performances that just take it to the next level, making you scream at the television in the final meters or bringing a tear to your eye as an athlete crosses the finish line.

There's really nothing predictable about competition and that's part of what makes every race weekend special, especially if you're lucky enough to ever witness the magic in person surrounded by other fans who feel the same way as you do. From first time race winners to comeback kings and queens, the uncertainty of it all is what keeps us coming back for more.

The Pinkbike Performance Award goes to an exceptional performance that was either totally unexpected, record-breaking, or just resulted in more nail-biting and frenzied yelling than usual. Even if the winner didn't have an exceptional season in 2021 otherwise, people will remember this one performance and they can come away proud because of their result on this one day.









Why he's nominated

20 years have blown by since Greg Minnaar claimed his inaugural World Championships medal in Vail, Colorado, in 2001. Two entire decades. After a win in 2020 and a fourth place in Maribor earlier in the season, it's not like Minnaar winning a fourth World Championships title was an impossibility. It just didn't seem very likely. Especially after a six-year drought in World Championships hardware.

Once again, the GOAT proved everyone wrong, adding an incredible 11th World Championship medal to his collection. Not only that, but it was a gold medal and on a track where Minnaar had never won before. The conditions on the day were tricky, with overnight rain making it even harder than usual to tame the infamous Black Snake, but it was the Pietermaritzburgian, at 39 years young who set the time that no one could contend with.










Why she's nominated

Evie Richards is a favourite in every World Cup Short Track race she starts in and came ever so close to winning the first-ever XCC World Championships before being pipped at the line by Sina Frei. Two days after the defeat, the 24-year-old was on the line of the Olympic cross-country category in Val di Sole. Despite not being a favourite to win the rainbow stripes and never having won an Elite World Cup race before, Richards moved into the lead in lap 2 of the race. She never looked back from then, finishing 1:03 ahead of her closest competitor in a textbook perfect race. With her win, she became the first-ever British woman to win the World Championships.










Why he's nominated

The weekend after winning World Championships in Leogang in 2020, Reece Wilson was the top qualifier in Maribor by nearly three seconds and one of the favourites for the win. After a crash in training however, he was unable to take the start and his season ended before he had the chance to prove to everyone that his win was no fluke.

At the first race of the season in 2021, Wilson showed up with a strong fourth place finish and it looked like he might be on track to win a race in the rainbow jersey in Les Gets until a horrific crash in finals set him back. A 15th place in Val di Sole had Reece Wilson passing the rainbow stripes on to Greg Minnaar, but he was able to finish off the season strong with a World Cup win in Snowshoe, West Virginia. It was a roller-coaster of a run, with Wilson leading by a second before losing his entire advantage to Loic Bruni between splits 3 and 4. With a phenomenal finish, the Scotsman was able to cross the line 0.032 ahead of Bruni and take his first World Cup win.










Why he's nominated

With wins in 2008, 2016, 2019, Brandon Semenuk was undeniably the favourite at Red Bull Rampage this year. As the winner in 2019, Semenuk was the last rider to drop into his first run, a run that ended up being marred by a crash. Semenuk headed straight back to the top of the mountain for redemption and was the first ride to drop into the second run. His clean top-to-bottom second run complete with steep high-speed chutes, a tailwhip off a massive flat drop and a backflip tailwhip scored him an 89. The Canadian then waited anxiously in the finish line corral for the rest of the competitors to come down before being crowned the 2021 Red Bull champion. His win makes him the only ever four-time Red Bull Rampage winner as well as the only back-to-back Rampage winner. 










Why he's nominated

Christopher Blevins took the win in the Short Track at the Val di Sole World Championships and then followed up that success in the longer distance, with a win at the final World Cup XC race of the season in Snowshoe, West Virginia. Blevins is only in his first year in the Elite category and so it was exceptional to see him win his first ever World Cup on home soil. The race came down to a nail-biting final lap where smart tactics saw Blevins finishing 9 seconds ahead of second place finisher Vlad Dascalu.

The US held the first ever World Champs in Durango, Colorado, which is where Blevins is based, in 1990, but American cross-country riders haven't seen much success on the world stage in recent years. In fact, with this win Blevins becomes the first male US rider to win a World Cup XCO race since 1994.




Author Info:
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Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,436 articles

64 Comments
  • 168 1
 Goat.
  • 36 3
 Dude's about to start needing colonoscopies and he's still winning world cups. Unbelievable.
  • 10 0
 The Pietermaritzburgian
  • 1 0
 It's gotta be.
  • 6 0
 @toast2266: Or maybe more like Minnaar was dishing out colonoscopies.....with a boot.
  • 64 7
 Did you guys missed the Olympics? I think Jolanda Neff might have something to say here
  • 11 1
 This probably means she'll win comeback of the year.
  • 20 0
 You could‘ve easily nominated the whole Swiss female squad bringing home 1,2 and 3 at the Olympics.
  • 2 0
 Was thinking the same thing.
  • 3 0
 Dude, my thoughts exactly. How could they not even nominate? Her race was an absolute clinic.
  • 31 0
 It simply has to be Minnaar.
  • 23 0
 There can only be one person to win this...
  • 23 0
 That's how it works, yes. I'm picking up what you're laying down though. GOAT
  • 2 0
 @rbonnell: yeah, there was a goat emoji at the end of my comment but PB doesn't do emojis apparently
  • 25 2
 Nino doesn't get a mention as both the youngest and oldest XCO Champ?
  • 21 1
 Blevins. Dude came outta nowhere, raced so smart and took a win away from Nino himself.
  • 4 0
 Really hope to see him on some more podiums next year! Gotta admit, his win got me WAY more fired up than I expected.
  • 2 0
 He was 10/10 great! Nino did actually get a flat about 2/3rds through the last lap and thats when Blevins and Dascalu attacked over him, so it would have been fun to see a 2 younger riders vs GOAT Nino but thats racing hey. Blevins went for it in style.
  • 15 0
 Minnaar wins when Minnaar should no longer be winning.
Minnaar wins when the field is deeper than it's ever been.
Minnaar wins when everyone has a good race and there's no opportunity to say, "But what if ______ had finished the race?"
Minnaar.
Keeps.
Winning.
  • 18 1
 No Pidcock or Neff both were pretty insane.
  • 15 3
 But they wear spandex
  • 12 0
 I honestly thought the article would end after Minnaar... I was surprised I could could scrolling.
  • 12 0
 Minnaar. Period.
  • 11 1
 Tom Pidcock. Olympic gold, in his first year at the elite level MTB. Destroying Van der Poel and Shurter the same day.
  • 4 0
 Every WC level racer was peeking for that race and he smoked them all, a matter of weeks after breaking his collar bone.
  • 3 0
 tbf MVP destroyed himself (but yeah TP was on fire)!
  • 8 0
 Me. More than 50. Still riding hard after my day job.
  • 8 0
 TOM PIDCOCK for winning the OLYMPICS after collarbone surgery!
  • 4 0
 Sounds more like Reece should have been a strong comeback nominee... But I'll put one in for the GoaT. He's starting to touch that Gretzky level of records you can't imagine people ever touching.
  • 8 2
 How is Emil not on this list!
  • 2 0
 Because he is too good (actually though)
  • 5 0
 Emil is nominated as athlete of the year, which seems like more of an "overall" type of award instead of these which are winning single events.
  • 1 0
 There is no comparison between the physical and mental strength between DH and XC as an aging athlete....being an old fart who does both disciplines the reality of getting badly injured and possibly ending your riding days due to a mistake on a DH course is so much higher. I cannot fathom the mental strength of an athlete like Minnaar..as my young rider buddies say "If your gonna end it you might as well send it!" Smile
  • 4 0
 Minnaar! (...but does he got a BMX background?)
  • 6 1
 Jack Moir??
  • 2 0
 Certainly a nomination for riding through injury and hammering his wheel back into shape with a rock before winning in Finale!
  • 4 1
 GOAT!

But also wondering why Emil’s not on the list.
  • 1 0
 Emil is nominated as athlete of the year, which seems like more of an "overall" type of award instead of these which are winning single events.
  • 4 1
 Me. For the pancakes I made yesterday.
  • 4 0
 BELVINS!
  • 2 0
 Crazy that minaar won his first gold wc medal when the guys that he beat this year still didn’t know how to use toilets
  • 1 0
 Tough one, all of them had great performances.

Maybe we also need a keyboard warrior award for the comments section (not just this article, but overall for the year).
  • 1 0
 Too tough to pick a winner......so many great performances. However, for her performance, and post race interview, it's got to be Evie......
  • 4 2
 How is goldstone not on this list?
  • 2 0
 The GOAT of freeride or the GOAT of racing? Tough calls!
  • 4 1
 Evie Richards!
  • 1 0
 i'd vote Minnaar, but Loic desrves a nomination for winning snowshoe and the overall - that was clutch
  • 1 0
 Minnaars win was just something different. Even so Evoes Worlds race was an absolute clinic
  • 1 0
 Minaar-Minaar tu-du-dududum...
  • 1 0
 Triple Swiss olympic podium! Should be there
  • 1 0
 Is this even a discussion Bru?
  • 1 0
 Uh, oh. Here we go.
  • 4 0
 Somebody is about to get robbed.
  • 4 4
 Semenuk. No questions asked.
  • 1 0
 Mr Min for the WIN
  • 1 0
 100% the GOAT
  • 1 0
 Greg. The end.
  • 1 0
 Minnaar #1
Blevins #2
  • 1 0
 Minnaar for sure
  • 1 0
 Steve Doc Holiday Smith.
  • 1 0
 🐐
  • 1 0
 GOAT!
  • 1 0
 gooooat
  • 1 3
 Semenuk and it isn't even close







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