Brett Rheeder wins Mountain Bike Slopestyle
MUNICH -- Brett Rheeder edged out fellow Canadian Brandon Semenuk to win the first X Games gold medal in Mountain Bike Slopestyle on Sunday's final event of X Games Munich.
"This is unbelievable," Rheeder said in the finish area. "We've wanted to have slopestyle in the X Games forever and to be the first one to win a gold medal in the event is easily the best result of my career."
High winds postponed the event, which was originally scheduled for first thing Sunday morning, for more than five hours.
In the final run, with only Rheeder left to go behind him, Semenuk laid down a fast and fluid run with back flips, tailwhips and 360s to move into the top spot.
"It's X Games so everybody wanted to do their biggest stuff," said Semenuk on the last two runs that decided the event. "It's tough dropping in that second-to-last run knowing there's one rider behind you. You just do what you know you can do and hope it's enough. But Brett dropped in behind me and was just going for it. He's so dialed, and he definitely put down the best run today."
The 20-year-old Rheeder dropped in next with a 360 off the opening step down and followed that up with a barspin front flip, barspin backflip, barspin transfers and tailwhips throughout the middle section of the course on Munich's Olympic Hill.
Rheeder then rolled off the massive 30-foot step down -- which he'd crashed on during his first run -- and landed a smooth 360, pumping his fist as he rolled into the finish area. His score of 97.33 was enough to eclipse the 96.00 that Semenuk received on the previous run and land him the gold medal.
"I always show up and assess the course before deciding what my run is going to be like," Rheeder said. "I had a run I was doing in practice that I really liked, but during the course of the day I ended up changing things up a little bit."
Spaniard Andreu Lacondeguy earned the bronze medal. "The wind is the worst thing that can happen for us," Lacondeguy said. "Those big wheels when they spin in the air are like walls and we get like super sideways and we can't ride it. We were trying to at first, but at the end of the day we finally got up there and got to ride and I ended up on the podium, so I'm pumped."
The original start list for the finals had 10 riders, but only six rode in the final. Three of them -- Martin Söderström, Thomas Genon and Yannick Granieri -- bowed out of the competition because of the long delay and the windy course conditions earlier in the day. German rider Peter Henke sustained a thigh contusion earlier in the day during the elimination round and didn't compete in finals.
Lacondeguy, Rheeder and Semenuk all said they hoped this was the first of many slopestyle stops at the X Games.
"It's unreal [to be here]," said Semenuk. "First of all, to get an invite and then to actually be here and experience the whole culture of X Games, have all the other sports around and meet all these other athletes I idolize. Just to be here is a great experience, nevermind to compete and be a part of it all."