Brandon Semenuk hit back from a disappointing 2018 Red Bull Rampage to pull off a brilliant first run in Virgin, Utah and win his third title at the 2019 edition with fellow Canadian Brett Rheeder denied back-to-back wins by just over a point.
Rheeder came into the event looking to build on his first Red Bull Rampage victory last year, however, the conditions were just right for what turned out to be a classic edition of mountain biking’s epic event. American Carson Storch put down the marker early on with a superb score of 85.66 as 2019 Red Bull Joyride champion Emil Johansson of Sweden also impressed on his Red Bull Rampage debut with a 79.
Semenuk, though, looked in the zone and the 2008 and 2016 champion pulled off a brilliant first run of 92.33 that included an opposite 360 and backflip. Brandon is the master of aerial acrobatics and it seems the judges were ready to appreciate its merger with the insane riding in aggressive terrain. The key to all this is Brandon, who usually throws around a dirt jump bike had to do all these maneuvers with a downhill bike.
Briton Brendan Fairclough was a big fan favorite in 2018 but was snubbed by the judges was recognized this year after a massive public outcry. He had the crowd on their feet again with an excellent highly technical run of 87.66 that featured a breathtaking backflip over a canyon. Fairclough had the chance to improve on his first run, but opted instead to pay tribute to Canadian Jordie Lunn, who sadly passed away earlier this month in a Mexican bike crash, with some course push-ups.
Polish star Szymon Godziek, two-time American winner Kyle Strait and compatriot Tyler McCaul all reeled off impressive runs in the 80s with Canadian Tom van Steenbergen building on his 2018 Best Trick award with an insane run full of big backflip drops to post 89.66.
Rheeder was unusually messy in his opening run to score 84.33, but made amends in the second run with a score of 91 despite the wind starting to pick up. Rheeder, 26, added: “I broke the ice on round one and luckily I didn’t get affected by the wind. The season is over now and I am so happy to be in one piece.”
Van Steenbergen decided not to take his second run meaning that he finished third with Rheeder second and Semenuk able to go down his second run safe in the knowledge that he had wrapped up his third Red Bull Rampage title to match compatriot Kurt Sorge.
The 28-year-old Semenuk said: “Obviously last year didn’t go very well. We had a good line, I didn’t rush and I got something good down. Still nerve-racking, but I was feeling it. I don’t think people realize how much Jordie did for me when I was young. He was a best friend.”
RED BULL RAMPAGE 2019 FINAL RESULTS
Brandon Semenuk (CAN) – 92.33
Brett Rheeder (CAN) – 91.00
Tom van Steenbergen (CAN) – 89.66
Brendan Fairclough (GBR) – 87.66
Tyler McCaul (USA) – 87.00
Szymon Godziek (POL) -86.66
Ethan Nell (USA) – 86.00
Carson Storch (USA) – 85.66
Kyle Strait (USA) – 83.33
Vincent Tupin (FRA) – 81.33
Reed Boggs (USA) – 80.00
Emil Johansson (SWE) – 79.00
Graham Agassiz (CAN) – 76.33
Thomas Genon (BEL) – 74.00
Reece Wallace (CAN) – 72.00
DJ Brandt (USA) – 70.33
Andreu Lacondeguy (SPN) – 52.33
Kurt Sorge (CAN) – 51.66
Bienvenido Agua Alba (SPA) – 45.33
Cam Zink (USA) – 36.66