Semenuk Makes Red Bull Rampage History. Again.

After crashing higher up the mountain on his first run; Brandon Semenuk nailed his one and only chance at a win. As seen here with a tailwhip. All photos: Mike Cartier

Every Red Bull Rampage feels historic for one reason or another but this edition packed in a heap of significance. Brandon Semenuk became the first rider in history to win the event two competitions in a row, and the first rider to win four times. Semenuk laid down even more first-evers by riding the new single crown RockShox Zeb fork on his Trek Session downhill bike, which gave him the freedom to barspin, tailwhip, and then backflip tailwhip. It was a nearly picture perfect run for the accomplished Canadian who rarely competes in mountain biking anymore.

This came after a crash in his first run though. Semenuk, who went last in the first order of riders, was clearly disappointed and because the order was revised in the second wave, and those with the lowest points started first, he went first in the second order of runs.

Semenuk nailed his run, with precision and tricks that couldn’t be outdone, earning an 89 from the judges. Kurt Sorge, a 3x Rampage winner took silver with an 88.33, and Reed Boggs, looking to solidify his place at Rampage snagged an 87 for 3rd place.

“As soon as I got up, I was like ‘I need to go, I need to get this done,'” said Semenuk. “It was about 90% what I wanted.” The Canadian held on to a few tricks he tried in his first run to keep it safer, but the tailwhips and stylish precision were enough to get him a score that no one else on their second run could beat.

Most of the riders struggled finding their footing in the new-again venue, which hadn’t been used since 2017. There were 15 riders slated to start today, but only 12 made it to the top. Carson Storch broke his collarbone a day earlier, and Brage Vestavik and Andreu Lacondeguy were both injured during practice as well. Tom van Steenbergen crashed badly on his first run today and he was taken to the hospital during the competition for further care and assessment of his injuries.

At the end of everyone’s first run, only five out of 12 had made it from the top to the bottom without crashing, a scenario that isn’t totally unheard of when Rampage is held somewhere different for the first year. By the second set of runs, everyone looked like they had a bit more control over the mountain.

Kurt Sorge’s run was filled with drops, speed, no-handers, and a clean backflip on his first run, and it earned him a 73.66. “I’m just stoked to make it to the bottom,” he said. On his second run, Sorge took more risks, and started his run with some controlled, yet wild speed down steeps, and landed a backflip, a suicide no-hander, a backflip nac nac, and more flips, putting him just under Semenuk with an 88.33.

Kurt Sorge kept it clean on Friday. Massive backflip nac-nacs halfway down the mountain made for a relieved and happy Kurt.

Reed Boggs, who was the only rider this year utilizing a different side of the mountain, over-rotated a 360° on a drop, blowing his tube out of his wheel and ending a promising run. He didn’t seem phased as he ran his bike down the mountain handing out high-fives. Boggs got his tire fixed and stayed sharp on his second run, sticking his 360° this time and following up with a suicide no-hander, a 3-star, and more.

Reed Boggs survived his first run, only just. He later stomped his second run to earn him a spot on the podium.

“I’m just so happy,” said Boggs to Red Bull TV. “I’ve been working all year for this. I hope the score is good, but I don’t care.” Boggs had last earned 11th place in 2019 and 13th in 2018.

Rampage veteran Cam Zink also had a tough first run, coming up very short on a landing near the bottom, ending a great run. On his second time, Zink, who was at the hospital yesterday after crashing in practice, dropped into his steep run aggressively, looking nearly out of control, and then stuck nac nacs, backflips and no footers.

A signature Zink backflip at Rampage. We’re all happy that Zink returned from a rough Thursday practice to keep it clean on Friday.

At the bottom, Zink mentioned that the doctor he saw yesterday assumed he’d compete regardless of his orders.

“I’m glad I did,” he said. “I’m glad I pushed through it.” The American, who’s been competing in Rampage since 2004 snagged an 86.33.

First-time Rampage competitor, Utah local, and 20-year-old Jaxson Riddle also came up short on a landing in his first run. Riddle has a background in motocross and BMX and brought a fresh perspective on style to Rampage.

Riddle collected himself, kept his speed up on the second run, threw out some wild, moto-inspired superman seat grabs, and landed in 10th, earning a spot at next year’s Rampage.

Riddle exuded confidence on Thursday and despite a sloppy blowout on his first run, he made everyone proud on his final go.

As riders finished their second runs, Kyle Strait, who has competed in every Red Bull Rampage since its creation, was the last one on the top. Strait has taken home two gold medals before, and found himself in a position where he could bring a 3rd home to match Sorge and Semenuk.

Strait earned a 77.33 on the first run, laid down a series of tricks and clean landings on the upper half of the mountain, including back flips, suicide no-handers, and superman seat grabs, but appeared to slip a pedal landing a backflip near the bottom.

With Semenuk using a single crown fork for the first time though, and landing tricks that are usually reserved for groomed slopestyle or BMX competitions, it would have been hard for anyone to match his run unless they were riding a similar setup.

Semenuk’s consistency is usually mind-blowing, but he also took the competition a step further, leading way to more technical tricks, and he again raised the bar.

Fortunately, the only showers this weekend took place on the podium.

Awards

Kelly McGarry Spirit Award: Brage Vestavik

Best Trick: Tom Van Steenbergen

Toughness award: Cam Zink

Full results

  1. Brandon Semenuk: 89
  2. Kurt Sorge: 88.33
  3. Reed Boggs: 87
  4. Cam Zink: 86.33
  5. Tyler McCaul: 78.33
  6. Kyle Strait: 77.66
  7. Thomas Genon: 77
  8. Ethan Nell: 73.33
  9. Jaxson Riddle: 72.66
  10. Szymon Godziek: 54.33
  11. Vincent Tupin: 0
  12. Tom van Steenbergen: 0

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