Emil Johansson proved unstoppable as he completed a perfect Crankworx season by emerging victorious at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler after Austrian star Valentina Höll launched the final 2023 Crankworx World Tour stop with a phenomenal downhill victory.
SATURDAY, JULY 29
– Emil Johansson pulled off an undefeated season as he won the Crankworx FMB Slopestyle World Championships courtesy of victory at Red Bull Joyride.
– The Swedish star crashed during practice and saw the event delayed by three hours due to high winds and poor weather conditions in Whistler’s boneyard. But no-one could deny Johansson once the event got underway as his run netted him a score of 92.4 points.
– This was enough to secure Johansson a 13th Crankworx gold medal, finishing well clear of runner-up France’s Paul Couderc’s 87 and bronze medallist Tom Isted’s of Britain who scored 83.8.
– Johansson, 24, said: “I don’t even know where to begin. I busted my shoulder this morning and I wasn’t really sure what level I would be able to perform. I decided to play it as safe as possible and really just wanted to make it down the hill. I made it down and I don’t know, I just try to pinch myself because it hasn’t really sunk in yet and I don’t know if it will.”
FRIDAY, JULY 28
– In Friday’s Speed & Style event, Australian Burbidge-Smith made it two wins in two nights as edged out New Zealand’s Robin Goomes in the final, with third place going to American Shaelen Reno who overcame home hope Natasha Miller.
– Burbridge-Smith, 26, said: “I’m just having so much fun and I love being in Whistler.”
– In the men’s event, American Garret Mechem secured an emphatic win over Austria’s Bernd Winkler in the final, while it was another American in third as David Lieb defeated Austrian Peter Kaiser.
– Mechem said: “It was mentally draining because I had to be perfect or else I would have been out. But I’m absolutely loving Speed & Style.”
THURSDAY, JULY 27
– On Thursday, Australian all-rounder Burbidge-Smith continued her impressive 2023 Crankworx World Tour season by winning the Dual Slalom event from Britons Louise Ferguson and Martha Gill.
– In the men’s event, Australian Jackson Frew came out on top with compatriot Ryan Gilchrist second and New Zealand’s Tuhoto-Ariki Pene placing third to boost his King of Crankworx title hopes.
– The next big event is the main Red Bull Joyride Slopestyle spectacular on Saturday to cap the week off.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 26
– In Wednesday’s Pump Track, Australian Caroline Buchanan did enough in placing second to secure brilliant back-to-back Queen of Crankworx titles in between American winner Kialani Hines and compatriot Jordy Scott.
– Buchanan, 32, said: “It’s just been probably mentally one of the toughest seasons, because it was so short and everything was back to back. You didn’t really have time to gain momentum throughout the year, you had to kind of use all of last year’s momentum to kind of flow into this year.”
– Meanwhile Hines said: “I qualified fifth, which was super stressful. Last year, I qualified fourth in the finals, so this year I had a lot of redemption to make up, and I did it, so I’m super happy.”
– In the men’s event, Kiwi Pene edged out American Austin Warren and Australian Ryan Gilchrist to move further ahead of defending King of Crankworx champion Bas van Steenbergen in the overall race.
– Pene, 22, said: “Im feeling pretty good. I kind of came into this week focused because ‘why not’ I was close (in the overall standings). The race isn’t over yet, who knows, anything could happen.”
SUNDAY, JULY 23
– Whistler’s Creekside in British Columbia served as the beautiful backdrop for a thrilling first event on Sunday on a course dotted with challenging jumps, tricky root sections and steep technical areas.
– Named “1199” in honour of the late Canadian downhiller Stevie Smith – who earned 1199 points during his historic 2013 World Cup title season – the track provided a tough, wild experience for riders.
– Spanning around 2.5 kilometres with a 500-metre descent, reigning UCI downhill world champion Höll was a class above in the women’s event to master the course and defeat Ferguson by just under 20 seconds with Canadian Miranda Miller third two seconds off Ferguson.
– Höll, 21, said: “It’s an honour to be a part of this kind of stuff even though I didn’t get to meet Stevie in person. To see the Canadians following in his footsteps and to see what he did for the Canadian kids is amazing! The track definitely shows you how gnarly Stevie Smith was as a rider.”
– In the men’s race, Jewett edged out compatriot Mark Wallace by one second to lift the home fans with Kiwi racer Pene also just missing out on victory back in third place.
– Jewett, 20, said: “I was lucky enough to meet him a handful of times when I was younger. I watched Stevie a lot as a young kid at Mont-Sainte-Anne, I really wanted to do good at this race. For me and my brother to both get first in our categories, I can’t think of a much better day.”
– Wallace, 28, added: “I credit me being here, even still, largely to him. When I was 16, wanting to race, he kind of showed me the way. I’ve tried to remember the things that he taught me, because it obviously worked out well for him. He would be so excited to go send it down this track.”
Watch all the big Crankworx Whistler action on Red Bull TV HERE.