Semenuk victorious at last 

20,000-plus fans watch Whistler rider win Red Bull Joyride

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Semenuk said he was prepared to try to at least match Zink's flip or Messere's front flip, but in the end he didn't need to. He rode out to the bottom of the course with over 20,000 screaming fans cheering him on, where he was promptly tackled and sprayed with beer by his fellow riders. He collected $25,000, Zink $10,000, Messere $5,000, Greg Watts (fourth) $3,500 and B.C.'s Geoff Gulevich (fifth) $1,500.

While he wanted the win, Zink said the Joyride course - built to the riders' specifications - was the best yet.

"Every time we show up to a course, everyone has their discrepancies and everyone has their opinions on what's wrong," he said. "So finally, instead of (taking) the advice of a few riders they took everyone into account - and to make it happen was the best thing ever.

"Riders need to be consulted because even the best builders that ride, they're not doing certain tricks off the jumps every weekend. Most of the time (courses) are good, but they could be so much better. The riders see the potential."

Zink said he was in a bad injury cycle for years, with five knee surgeries for four torn ACL ligaments since his previous Crankworx win in 2006. In 2010 he came back with wins at Red Bull Rampage and Crankworx, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

"Now I feel as good as I did when I was these guys' age," he said. "Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do you keep getting messed up and you're not doing well at contests - and you almost believe that you're not capable of what you really are capable of. Now, I'm back where I can try and win every week, and battling these two was the funnest thing in the world for me. It's the best mountain bike story ever, with us trying to one-up each other."

As for Messere, he was a pro BMX racer when he was younger as well as a recreational downhiller, and didn't get into slopestyle until last year. While Semenuk - now 20 - also competed in Crankworx as a 15 year old, he didn't qualify for the finals that year, making Messere the youngest athlete to podium at the event.

But even as a newcomer, Messere has been watching the events for years and is blown away by how much the sport has grown.

"How much it's progressed in just the last couple of years is crazy," he said. "Five years ago a backflip was the biggest trick, now it's front flips, no-handers, flip-whips - I can't imagine what it's going to be like five years from now."

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