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Third on the list goes to mountain bike freerider Brandon Semenuk, who placed first overall on the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour for two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, after recovering from injury and joining the tour in progress, he won the first four events he entered to jump to the lead in the standings. He had a rough outing in Whistler where he made rare mistakes on top of the course on both of his runs, but showed up to Red Bull Rampage in Utah this past October to earn enough points to take the lead back from Sweden's Martin Soderstrom by just 32.5 points.
Favourite Summer Athlete
One of Brandon Semenuk's nicknames among other riders on the Freeride Mountain Bike Tour is "The Silent Assassin," because he generally lets his riding do the talking. He's serious about training, about progressing his sport and winning, and does everything with a practiced style that makes his riding look effortless.
When he won Red Bull Joyride in Whistler in 2011, it was a clutch performance that came after crashing on his first attempt at a flip-tailwhip combination over the last air, giving him one chance to make the finals and win the only event that had eluded him so far. He even seems to know how to crash better than everyone else, because he picked up his bike, brushed off the dust and headed back up the course to lay down the winning run with 30,000 spectators cheering him on.
He may have crashed — almost everybody did — but that doesn't take away anything that Semenuk achieved this year: first place at Jump Ship, Catel Mountain Style, Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, the Claymore Challenge, the Colorado Freeride Festival and the Bearclaw Invitational. Whistler was really his only bad result all season, and he came into this season a little rusty after an injury.
His riding aside, Semenuk also did a few things to win over fans including a few awesome videos like his Life Behind Bars series with Red Bull, and his work with trail builders on the upper section of Full Nelson in Squamish.
At 21, Semenuk's best is still ahead of him.
Second on the list was freeride pioneer and coach Richie Schley, followed closely by professional road rider Will Routley.
Favourite Junior Athlete
Darcy Sharpe is not exactly a Whistler kid. He lives on Vancouver Island and learned to ride at Mount Washington, but in recent years he's found success working with coaches at the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club. Last season the 16-year-old was second in slopestyle at the FIS Junior World Championship, earned another silver in slopestyle at the national championships and netted a sixth place finish in his first World Cup competition in Quebec. He also had a good season in pro events — including a big air win at The Shred Show in Whistler — a five-star World Snowboard Tour event — and a sixth place in slopestyle.
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