Two generations of B.C. riders walked away from the athlete-judged Teva Best Trick showdown on Thursday night with $4,000 cheques and the appreciation of a massive crowd.
The first hit was a straight air under the big screen. There were a lot of solid tricks and combinations - Sam Dueck's Double Tailwhip, Martin Soderstrom's 360 table and Yannick Granieri's flip whip stood out especially - but the one that got the biggest cheer, and the most votes, was Jordie Lunn's very corked 720 spin.
"That's a trick that comes out different every time I train it, sometimes it's a 360 with a flip, sometimes I get it right and I land a corked 720," said Lunn. "It's a fun one to do, and I was definitely building up to it today."
Lunn has competed in every type of mountain bike event known to man, from four-cross to downhill racing. When asked if he was making a move into the slopestyle world, he shook his head.
"I don't know. It's tough being an older guy out there. All the guys are pretty young and they're living this. I just do what i do and try to keep my body a little safer."
Lunn turned to Tom van Steenbergen, the winner of the second feature, and asked him how old he is.
"Sixteen? That's what I'm talking about," said Lunn. "I'm 29 next week. In this sport that makes me an old fart."
The second feature was the porch trick off of the Kokanee Cabin at the base of the mountain.Van Steenbergen sewed up the votes with a front flip tuck no-hander, with his hands well out to the sides.
"It's a trick I first got in the Air Dome and then practiced it a lot, then a few weeks later I tried it out on a trick jump," he said. "It didn't - it didn't go well at all. I pretty much ate it. But a couple of days after that I tried it out on a step jump and landed it the first time, and after that I just kept doing it."
Both Tom and his brother Bas are up and coming downhill racers, and Tom says he'll keep racing while working on his slopestyle tricks. His chances of securing an invite to the Red Bull Joyride at this point weren't good, but it's not out of the question for next year.
"That would be awesome for next year," he said.
Ropelato, Kintner three-peat
The second part of Thursday evening's double-header was a double three-peat at the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge presented by Rock Shox.
The event was moved from the top of The Boneyard this year to Whistler Olympic Plaza, resulting in a crowd of thousands out to enjoy some head-to-head racing under the lights.
The racers were seeded according to their qualifying runs, and then paired off on parallel pump courses. They would race twice, switching sides between runs, with the rider posting the lowest combined time advancing.
For the third year running, Mitch Ropelato of the U.S. took the men's event, edging out Australia's Troy Brosnan in the final. While Ropelato was solid in every run, he also had a bit of luck - Brosnan crashed in his run and bent his bars out of shape. Cody Johnson, the biggest surprise of the night, had a bad start in an earlier heat. Martin Soderstrom - who added colour with a tailwhip, behind the back clap/no-hander and a bar spin off the last small jump - had a crash in the middle section.
That's not to say that Ropelato wouldn't have won anyway. No gap was too big for him to come back from.
"The second corner is pretty key (to this course)," he said. "If you were behind you could rail it and come down the straightaway with enough speed to pull ahead of the other person. I really liked this course."
Ropelato said he tried to focus on his own race and not to pay too much attention to the other rider, but it was impossible not to feel the pressure. "You could see them coming up on you, so that pushed you a little harder," he said.
Third place went to Cody Johnson, with Soderstrom in fourth.
Jill Kintner of Washington State took the women's pump track title for the third year running, besting Micayla Gatto of the North Shore in a tight final. Just 0.22 seconds separated the two riders after two rounds.
Unbelievably, Kintner wasn't even sure she was going to race. Just six weeks ago she broke her radius bone, and had surgery to put in a plate. No cast was required, which Kintner said was the only reason she had enough strength in her hand for some like the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge.
"I wasn't really cleared to race on it. My doctor said I could ride my bike, but he told me I couldn't crash - and I didn't," she said.
Normally Kintner would enter other events as well, but decided to draw the line at the pump track rather than risk a more serious injury.
"It was hard enough to have something like this happen in the summer, I don't want to risk making it worse and losing whatever summer we've got left.
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