INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA – 2019 – The second stop of the 2019 Crankworx season did not disappoint. Massive tricks, exciting racing, tough crashes and incredible runs – the Mons Royal Dual Speed & Style and Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle provided the goods. Here are some of the highlights of the action-packed style events:
Innsbruck provides the goods
Innsbruck has given fans and athletes everything they have hoped for – but the weather also put everyone’s nerves and patience to the test. The Speed & Style course was as spectacular as ever with the two lanes criss-crossing and riders having to jump over each other twice on the way to the finish line – a one of a kind course in mountain biking. The spectacular track also made for incredible racing and some dramatic moments – including a run with handlebars unintentionally turned backwards.
The Slopestyle riders on the other hand battled with high winds throughout the week, which limited practice and saw the competition first postponed and then moved back a day altogether. The thousands of fans who had patiently waited and turned up for the show on Sunday were however more than rewarded by one of the most incredible Slopestyle competitions in history.
Speed & Style continuous to deliver excitement
The Mons Royale Speed & Style at Crankworx Innsbruck once again demonstrated, why the unique format is as spectacular as it is unpredictable. It’s hard to determine which background gives riders the greatest advantage, as the stacked line-up of riders race each other head-to-head while throwing huge tricks.
The big favorite, reigning Speed & Style World Champion and defending Innsbruck Speed & Style Champion, Tomas Lemoine (FRA), got off to a good start, beating Tyler McCaul (USA) with both his tricks and speed. But then, just like in Rotorua, his day got cut short. While Lemoine was derailed by a flat tyre in Rotorua’s semi-final and a crash in the small final, in Innsbruck it was the round of 8 where things went wrong for him, when it seemed like he had an issue in the air on the first trick jump. The replay revealed, that Lemoine somehow got his handlebar hooked during a 360 double-bar spin and subsequently landed with his handlebar backwards. Somehow he managed to hold on, land and continue his run despite the bar facing backwards and not being able to use the brake, he still raced through the gates and even pulled a backflip on the second jump. The straight backflip ended up costing him too much compared to Kyle Strait’s (USA) Double-Tailwhip and he wasn’t able to come back in the second run. Strait however moved on and beat Sam Reynolds in the semi-finals, which meant the Gold medal was to be decided between two legends of the sport.
After making his way through the field, retired Slopestyle legend Martin Söderström (SWE) was keen on regaining the top step of the podium, a place he hadn’t been since Crankworx Rotorua in 2018. Out of the gate it was clear that it would be almost too close to call in both Speed and Style. After crossing the line, Söderström was only behind 0.01 seconds going into the second run. Both riders gave it their all in the second run, Strait however gave just a fraction too much and crashed out, handing Söderström the victory. The bronze medal went to Garett Mechem (USA), after Sam Reynolds (GBR) crashed on the last jump whilst leading in the small final.
Emil Johansson and Brett Rheeder battle it out at the top
What a show! Starting a day later than planned due to high winds, the Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle was absolutely worth the wait. Defending Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Champion Brett Rheeder (CAN) came firing out of the gate and scored a 92 in his first run, distancing Dawid Godziek (POL) in second place by a full 8.5 points. Rheeder’s run looked hard to beat, but young Swede Emil Johansson had big things planned after abandoning his first run following a mistake.
Johansson had been struggling with a mystery illness (detailed in the new short movie ‘Every Mystery I've Lived’) and all but vanished from the scene for almost a year following his sensational debut season on the highest level of slopestyle, that saw him crowned Slopestyle World Champion in 2017. Under pressure to perform in order to not lose his spot on the Crankworx World Tour, the young Swede put on a slopestyle master class in his second run.
Johansson got off to a strong start with a 360-Unturndown before throwing a Quadruple-Truckdriver on the second jump, an Opposite-360-Tuck-No-Hander on the boner log, a 360-Tailwhip-to-Double-Barspin and Opposite-360-Invert-to-Downside-Whip on the two hips, a Backflip-Barspin on to and 360-Tailwhip off the whale tail, before finishing his run with an Opposite-360-Tailwhip-to-Barspin on the final jump. It’s a small miracle that the judges were even able to follow the technical difficulty of the run, but in the end Emil’s clean and precise performance was rewarded with a score of 95 points and the lead.
Rheeder, who watched Johansson’s run from the bottom of the course knew, that he had his work cut out for himself. While several riders stepped up their game, none came close to the Swede’s spectacular run. Rheeder was the last one to drop into his second run and he was hell-bent to get his first victory in Innsbruck and to keep his hopes of winning the Crankworx Triple Crown of Slopestyle alive. With all the pressure on him, the Canadian showed an incredibly varied run that included a Flat-Drop Backflip-Tailwhip, Frontflip-Barspin, Backflip-Opposite-Tailwhip, Opposite-Cork-720, Cork-720-Barspin, 360-Downside-Whip, Opposite-Truckdriver and a Backflip-Opposite-Double-Tailwhip. After several minutes of anxious waiting and heated discussions between the judges, Rheeder’s run was awarded with 95.5 points and his first victory in Innsbruck, while the crowd and viewers enjoyed one of the most spectacular battles in Slopestyle history.
More spectacular runs than you can shake a stick at
The jaw-dropping battle between Rheeder and Johansson might be the front-page news, but that shouldn’t distract from the outstanding skills of the rest of the field. The Slopestyle level is as high, as it has ever been with virtually every rider showing a run, that could have easily won it all in previous years. One stand-out was Wildcard-rider Dawid Godziek (POL), who, amongst others, showed a 1080-Tuck-No-Hander, a Cashroll-Barspin and a Double-Backflip-X-Up - three tricks that haven’t been seen at a Crankworx World Tour competition before - in a run that earned him 89.5 points and the bronze medal. Further highlights were Tomas Lemoine’s Backflip-No-Hander-Barspin, Erik Fedko’s (GER) 360-Indian-Air and Backflip-Superman-Seatgrab and Torquato Testa’s (ITA) Backflip-No-Foot-Can-Can on the boner log and Double-Backflip on the second hip.
The level of riding has been so high in Innsbruck, that one can only wonder what the Slopestyle riders have planned for August’s season finale at Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx Whistler.
Lemoine builds lead in King of Crankworx Standings; the Slopestyle World Championship is Rheeder’s to lose
After winning the Slopestyle competitions in both Rotorua and Innsbruck, the Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Champion title is Brett Rheeder’s to lose, as he has accumulated 2000 points and sits comfortably in front of Tomas Lemoine (1556 points) and Torquato Testa (1320 points). More important for Rheeder however is the fact, that he heads to Crankworx Whistler with a shot at the Triple Crown of Slopestyle title. The illusive title has only been won once (by Nicholi Rogatkin in 2018) and after winning Red Bull Rampage, the Slopestyle World Championship and countless Crankworx Slopestyle events, it’s the only major title still missing in Rheeder’s trophy case.
Following his Speed & Style victory in Innsbruck and second place in Rotorua, Martin Söderström, who stepped in as co-commentator on the Slopestyle live-stream, now leads the Speed & Style ranking comfortably with 180 points in front of opening round winner Billy Meaclem (NZL) and Kyle Strait. With a solid performance at the final round in Whistler, Söderström can now tie up his first Speed & Style World Championship title.
Thanks to his outstanding results in Pumptrack, Speed & Style and Slopestyle, Tomas Lemoine extended his lead in the overall King of Crankworx standings. Proving that his streak of great results in Rotorua (1st in Pumptrack, 2nd in Slopestyle and 4th in Speed & Style) was anything but a fluke, the young Frenchman secured himself a third place in Innsbruck’s Pumptrack Race, 5th place in the Mons Royale Speed & Style and 5th place in the Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle. As a result, Lemoine (360 points) leaves Innsbruck with a lead of 58 points in the King of Crankworx ranking on Keegan Wright (NZL, 322 points) in second place and 68 points on Adrien Loron (FRA, 311 points) in third.
Can Rheeder win the Triple Crown of Slopestyle? Can Söderström become the next Speed & Style World Champion? Will Tomas Lemoine be crowned King of Crankworx? Only one thing is certain: it’s all play for at Crankworx Whistler.
Re-watch the entire live-broadcast and all the highlights of the Crankworx Innsbruck Slopestyle and Mons Royal Dual Speed & Style on-demand and anytime on redbull.tv. Get the latest on everything bike related on the Red Bull Bike Channel at redbull.tv/bike.