Brandon Semenuk Wins 4th Consecutive Claymore Challenge
Freeride MTB - Highland MTB Park - Northfield, NH
Report by RideMonkey.com
Claymore Challenge just went down and will stand as one of the most competitive slopestyle contests in recent memory. Stalwart Brandon Semenuk was still able to claim first place and keep his perfect season alive, but not without some drama.
Four years is a long time to dominate any sport. Hockey teams such as the New York Islanders and the Oilers in the 1980s accomplished this feat. Now, Brandon Semenuk has his own piece of four peat history, claiming the top podium position for the fourth year running at Claymore Challenge. Brandon has yet to lose an event this year, and having missed the first few Gold stops, he's working hard to regain top spot in the FMB rankings.
Saturday's competition was fierce, pitting superstars such as Sam Pilgrim, Martin Soderstrom and Yannick Granieri against young guns like Thomas Genon and Canadian Brett Rheeder.
The first runs started relatively slowly, but included an impressively stylish run from the always composed Ryan Howard. Once the jitters had been worked out and the higher qualifiers started to drop, things quickly got out of control.
Sam Pilgrim set the tone by back flipping the flat drop, a first in competition. The rest of Pilgrim's run included relatively safe, albeit competitive tricks. Martin Soderstrom backed up his top qualifier with a consistent and trick filled run, including a 360 tailwhip on the first step down and a double whip on the "freebird" booter at the bottom.
When Brandon Semenuk dropped in, last rider of the first set, all eyes were fixated on BC's favorite phenomenon. His run was technically dialed, big, and consistent. The highlight would have to be his perfect cork 720, a trick which few other riders even attempt. The rest of his run consisted of regular and opposite 360s, tailwhips, and a n absolutely stomped flipwhip on the freebird jump.
With all eyes to the top of the course and new motivation for many of the riders, the second runs began. The order had been altered to reflect the first run standings, with Semenuk to drop last.
Tyler McCaul had a great run going but crashed on a 360 downside whip. Sitting in fourth place, and clearly unsatisfied, Martin Soderstrom began an assault of the course, punctuated by a 360 double tailwhip. Still, though, it was not enough to take down Semenuk, leaving Martin in second place.
Next up was Brett Rheeder, who's first run took many by surprise. Rheeder has had his own compound to train in this winter, and the training seems to be paying off in a big way. Rheeder's run seemed on par with Semenuk's, including a front flip off the flat drop, and the judges slotted him in second place.
Sam Pilgrim was the only rider left to dethrone Brandon, and his run reflected his desire to do so. Upping the ante, Sam flip-tucked the first stepdown, flipped the drop, did two perfect 360 x-ups, but was still unable to take the win, only bettering his score by a tiny margin.
Left atop the course with victory assured, Brandon Semenuk was able to stylishly cruise the course, a victory lap for the most dominant slopestyle rider in the world. Maybe one day Semenuk will match the 1960s Celtics whopping 8 consecutive titles...
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