Kyle Strait became the first-ever two-time winner of Red Bull Rampage on Sunday, Oct. 13, in an event that had many memorable moments despite ending early due to weather concerns.
Unfortunately for Canadian fans, none of the large contingent of B.C. riders in the field were ever near the podium in Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour's last event of the season.
Strait scored an 87.50 from judges on his only trip down the windy cliffs near Virgin, Utah. The American rider was still holding the best score of the day when the event ended midway through Sunday's second run.
New Zealand's Kelly McGarry (86.75) finished second with an incredible run of his own, and Cam Zink (84.75) landed a trick for the history books while taking third place. Spain's Andreu Lacondeguy (84.25) finished fourth for the third Rampage in a row, and U.S. rider Tyler McCaul (80.50) rounded out the top five.
Whistler's Brandon Semenuk, one of the pre-event favourites and a Rampage champion in 2008, did not finish a run.
Nelson's Garett Buhler (74.50) placed ninth as the top Canuck. Geoff Gulevich was the only other Canadian in the top 15. Kamloops's Graham Agassiz, who won the qualifying round on Friday, Oct. 11, placed 17th.
McGarry and Zink each had electrifying moments that stood out in their podium runs. Strait, however, took the win on a quick, clean and confident ride that included a no-hander off a 70-foot drop known as the Oakley Icon Sender.
He was about to take his second run of the day when a course hold for wind turned into a two-hour delay. Officials called off the event as darkness started to hit the desert, and only first-run scores were counted.
McGarry charged the course on his run by working in a trio of back flips, including one that cleared a 22-metre gap. Though he went down as the runner-up, the 31-year-old's run earned the People's Choice Award, which was based on fan votes from the 400,000 people watching worldwide via webcast.
Zink, who spent time in the hospital for hematoma treatment just two days before the finals, back-flipped the Oakley sender, landing what's believed to be the biggest flip-drop in history. He took home the Utah Sports Commission Best Trick Award.
Semenuk used a line that was similar to the one he used last year, and again it was one of the most technically difficult routes chosen by the 25 men in the final. In a stroke of awful luck, he got his front wheel caught up just seconds from the start while riding a narrow section of rock and never recorded a score. Six of Sunday's finalists were unable to complete their run, including fellow B.C. riders Mike Hopkins, James Doerfling and Mitch Chubey.
A full event replay can be seen at rampage.redbull.com, while NBC will air highlights on Dec. 21.
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