Slopestyle reinvents the wheel 

The future of the sport on display at expression session

For years, the worlds top freeride mountain bikers have toiled in the shadows, emerging every so often to appear in fat tire movies and race in sanctioned events like downhills and biker crosses.

All of that changed last Saturday night with the first annual Shimano Saint Slopestyle Expression Session on a special course built at the base of Whistler Mountain. With an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 spectators looking on, a dozen of the world’s top freeriders made their way down the course, riding the wall, dropping off stunts, hitting a series of four gap jumps, and airing out over a huge spine to an off-camber transition almost 35 feet away.

For Joyride organizers Chris Winter and Paddy Kaye, the goal was to provide the freeriders with a venue to show off their unique skills.

"As things stand now, where else are you going to go to check out these guys riding?" said Winter. "Nowhere. There are a few small events in the U.S., and there are the Red Bull events in Australia and Utah with huge cliff drops, but this was kind of unique. The format complemented both the dirt jumpers as well as the freeriders, all different styles."

Winter and Kaye plan to make the slopestyle an annual part of the Whistler Summer Gravity Festival, aware that they have essentially created a new mountain bike event with huge potential.

"I was talking to Darren Berrecloth who has competed in the X-Games and the Red Bull events, and he said this was the best event he has competed in," said Winter.

"Next year we’re not going to get the nationals again, so we’re going to have to figure out exactly where Joyride is going to stand in all of this. We definitely have big plans for the future."

The slopestyle featured 12 of the top riders in the sport, with each rider getting two runs in the qualifier, followed by one run in the finals. The panel of judges gave each rider a score out of 10, which was averaged out.

The last rider of the day was Berrecloth, who also scooped up the first ever Shimano Slopestyle Expression Session title with a score of 9.375.

Berrecloth put his BMX skills to the test, wheelie-dropping off the top stunt, and pulling a nice 360 off the green box. He opted for the Shimano Saint drop over the wall next, landing smoothly. With a full head of steam, he hit the spine gap and pulled off a huge, stylish superman before landing cleanly.

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