Top three runs from 2019 Red Bull Joy Ride Whistler
Emil Johansson takes the crown
A story a year in the making, one that could only be written by the rider himself. After battling through a back injury and being faced with the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease, Emil Johansson made his return at Crankworx Whistler in 2018, finishing in fourth. A year later, at the same contest, he stunned the 30,000 gathered Slopestyle fans, including his family, with a first run for the ages – which gave him a score of 95.75, a score that would prove unbeatable at the end of the day and giving Red Bull Joyride its new champion – only the second European to ever stand on the top step of the Red Bull Joyride and the first since Thomas Genon, who accomplished the feat back in 2012.
At one point, Emil thought he was never going to touch a bike again, much less ride it. Dark days followed through his extensive rehab process – supported by a large group of family, friends, medical professionals, and the mountain bike community.
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In 2018, Emil Johansson started his comeback to the Crankworx World Tour at Red Bull Joyride after being off the bike for the majority of the year. With only hours of practice on the bike the week before, Johansson dropped into Red Bull Joyride course as the first rider and what followed next was a Cinderella story in the making. Instinct took over and it was like he’d never even left the bike. With a score of 86.75, Johansson would finish 4th at the end of the day.
The full two-hour broadcast is here.
A year later, his comeback story is now complete – with a truly amazing chapter being written in the process. After crashing during training at Crankworx Rotorua, Johansson would have to wait until the stop in Innsbruck to show the world what he’s capable of – finishing in second, only 0.50 points shy of the gold medal, which would go to Brett Rheeder.
Coming into Red Bull Joyride week feeling under the weather and with windy conditions during practice, the young Swede would only get a limited number of full runs down the full Red Bull Joyride course, Johansson would not be able to work on everything he wanted to and he was nervous as he watched the first set of riders throw down on the massive course.
Dropping in as the eighth rider among a stacked field, Johansson threw together big combos on every single feature of the course, including a 360 Double Barspin to Downside Tailwhip, a Cork 720 on the hip, an Opposite 360 Tailwhip onto the stepdown and a 360 Tailwhip to Unturndown off, a series of tricks that would leave the crowd erupting with cheer and applause, welcoming the Swede into the finish corral.
With a score of 95.75, Johansson waited to watch other riders try and beat his score, but it wouldn’t be until the second set of runs that Canadian Brett Rheeder would come close, ultimately giving the Swede his first Crankworx Slopestyle win. Johansson’s nerves subsided as he took a victory lap down the Joyride course, where he was greeted by his fellow riders, who all erupted in stoke and mobbed the steezy Swede with Red Bull showers, hugs, high fives, and fist bumps. Emotions flared up and Johansson fought to fight back tears as he started realizing what he had just accomplished – less than two years after having to deal with the reality that he might never ride a bike again.
“It’s been really rough. Last season here I managed to pull a runoff, but the battle wasn’t really done there. I still suffer from some problems from time to time, but I’m way more stable than I’ve been in the past and I feel stronger than I have ever, so I’m super stoked,” said Johansson after his history-making run.
“I definitely need to say thank you to my family, my friends, my doctors and my trainers for working with me and my partners for supporting me. I definitely would not have been here, riding my bike and getting on the podium without their help.”
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