The energy was electric, while personal space was nonexistent on Saturday, August 13 as upwards of 30,000 people swarmed the base of Whistler Mountain for Crankworx’s ultimate event, Red Bull Joyride.
And while the competition was fierce, the outcome was almost inevitable as Swedish phenom Emil Johansson continued his domination of the sport by winning his eighth straight Crankworx Slopestyle event dating back to the last time Joyride came to Whistler in 2019.
“I never would have thought the winning streak would have lasted over three years’ time,” he said. “So to be back in Whistler and secure the top spot is so surreal. I don't even know where to begin.”
Despite battling through a hand injury that put his participation in Joyride into question, one run proved to be all Johansson needed to lock up the win, as he put down a flawless run on the brand new slopestyle course and set the high mark with a score of 94.60.
Even though the gold was secured by the time Johansson dropped in for his second run, the competition came right down to the wire with second place finisher Timothé Bringer putting down what looked to be a possible contending run before disaster struck, and a crash on one of the course’s final features ended his chances at the top spot.
“At the top I was like no stress, because I was sure to be second, so I was like, ‘OK I need to try at least.’ I know that Emil is a beast, but I need to try,” Bringer said about pushing as hard as he could to knock Johansson off the top spot, but ultimately coming up short.
“I think we are just used to it now. We know that there is one spot locked, like we can't be first. He is so good, but we try our best.”
While Johansson and Bringer may have been technically better in the judges’ eyes, it was bronze-medal finisher—and unofficial MVP of Crankworx Whistler—Tomas Lemoine who added the most excitement to the event when, instead of hitting the little step up onto the platform before the final drop, he decided to gap the entire thing.
In his first attempt, the fans' raucous cheers turned to concerned “oohs” after the rider landed with his weight too far forward and went down hard on the downslope.
After taking a few minutes to shake things off, Lemoine was back on his bike and ready to compete. And in his first competition run, undeterred by his last big crash, Lemoine went for it again, this time landing it and getting the biggest cheer of the day, capping off a run that would be good enough for fifth place at the time.
“This week, my biggest dream was to jump that thing, I didn't care about the rest of it or the run I could do and I looked at it so much that I had to give it a go. And when I felt the first crash, I was like, ‘alright, I survived this, there's no way you're going to do something else,'” he said. “This is not an opportunity you get every day, you know? I just can't believe everything worked out.”
Lemoine’s final run, capped off by gapping the final platform for the third time that day, was enough to vault him up to third place with a score of 90.00.
After a week that saw Lemoine perform a rap show at Gafinkel’s, win Speed and Style and hit the Slopestyle podium with his best friend of 20 years, this trip isn’t one Lemoine is going to forget any time soon.
“It's probably the best trip of my life. I'm travelling here with my two best friends and one of them (Bringer) is on the podium with me. We've known each other for 20 years, we are on the podium of the biggest comp we ever thought we could be together on,” he said. “And I won Speed and Style, I did a show, it was electric, I don't know, I don't want to go home. I'm scared now, what can be better than that? I don't know.”
For Johansson, who is coming off a 2021 season where he became the second-ever Crankworx Triple Crown winner, Saturday’s win in Whistler puts him in position to be the first-ever back-to-back Triple Crown winner when the tour heads to its last stop in Rotorua, New Zealand—something he says he hasn’t stopped thinking about since his first win of the season in Innsbruck.
The tour continues with a brand new stop in Cairns, Australia in October, before wrapping up the season in New Zealand one month later.
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