Brandon Semenuk wins People's Choice
(Virgin, Utah, USA): Another RedBull Rampage has come and gone, with no shortage of excitement, drama and riders elevating mountain biking to new levels. A record 7 Troy Lee Designs athletes were invited to compete in the world famous event, the most of any brand in the competition. Brandon Semenuk, Cam Zink, Brendan Fairclough, Tom Van Steenbergen, Logan Peat, Kyle Jameson and Bas Van Steenbergen were the 7 athletes invited to compete, with Fairclough, Zink and Semenuk being automatic qualifiers to the finals. That left Tom, Bas, Logan and Kyle having to ride thursdays qualifiers. We are so proud of our team riders, and honored to have them in premium TLD protection, D3 helmets and looking unique in our Sprint gravity kits. Don't forget to watch the RedBull Rampage on NBC DEC 27, 2015 @ 3:00 PM EST
The event, originally scheduled for Sunday, was moved up to Friday, as severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for the weekend, which meant qualifiers would be moved up as well. Sadly, earlier in the week, Logan Peat would have to depart suddenly from the Utah desert, to head home to Canada to be with his Mother, who eventually passed away from illness late last week. We wish Logan and his family the best wishes during this tough time.
With Logan Peat headed back home, we still had Kyle Jameson, Tom Van Steenbergen and Bas Van Steenbergen to qualify. Tom had to pull out Wednesday evening because he had a crash in practice the day before, so he decided to sit out as he has been battling a torn ACL all season long. It was time to shut it down and get surgery this off season to return stronger for 2016. Kyle and Bas had built very technical, yet fun looking lines, with Bas's being a little more world cup DH racer style, with high speed and flow. Kyle had a technical line as well, even doing a flat 360 over one of the big features, but, it would not be enough to advance to the finals. Bas would advance to the finals in his first ever Rampage appearance and was elated to be making it in, "It was surreal to have been invited, but to make it into the finals is so cool, i'm bummed for Tom to not be in, but it will be cool to have my Mom, Dad and Tom cheer me on friday, since they are all here".
Moving into the big day, everyone was on edge, it is the nature of Rampage, it is the gnarliest mountain bike event in the world, no question about it. The event has elevated itself into a zone that the riders and organizers never thought possible but that is the allure of Rampage. With the TV helicopters up in the air, live broadcast streaming throughout the world, the first rider dropped in, which was followed by Brendan Fairclough, who spends his time during the season racing the clock, not sending it down cliffs in the middle of the desert! Brendan had chosen to debut a new Sprint colorway (REFLEX Orange) available in 2016, for his run paired with his matching TLD custom painted D3 carbon helmet. Brendan came down fast on his sketchy line, along with some tricks that were totally unexpected for the world cup racer, landing him in the 8th place spot when the scores came in, "Ah man, Rampage?, I often wonder why I am doing this, it's so scary up there, and I wanted to step it up this year and see if I could try some tricks even, I just learned backflips 3 weeks ago, and I am absolute shit at them, but, doing it over the canyon ended up alright though! It is a good trip with my mates helping me build the line, but I am so glad to be safe and head out of here! off to California for some riding, and begin the off season training" Brendan told us after the event.
With Fairclough safely down, and after a few riders and big crashes, it was Cam Zink time! What do you say about this American legend? Cam is Rampage and Cam has pushed the entire field to go big at Rampage, Zink does big tricks never thought possible on a mountain bike. Zink was planning on doing his same death-defying line from last year-which included his massive 60' cliff drop with a 360°. Cam also built a new feature after his 360° drop, a flat drop back flip. So figuring he could step up his run which scored him in 2nd place in 2014 (and he won best trick in 2014) he was calculating like the tactician that he is, for a impressive Zink win. Cam dropped in from the top, down a straight vertical drop, leading into his 360°...BAM!, stuck the landing! then over to his new canyon jump and into his new flat drop flip-NAILED IT!, finished it up with some fun in the final moments of his run, and then the scores came in...with an 89.25! into the lead.
A few riders start to come in with questionable scores, Zink debated even doing a 2nd run, "Man, what do they want me to do? my line is so gnarly, the 360°, the backflip, I stepped it up a ton over last year with the lower half of my run, and it's an 89.25, not sure it's worth it?, I stomped my run, everyone is riding insane though, but i'm just not sure I can increase the score". Zink's good friend Paul Basagotia took a really hard crash a few riders after Zink came down, and that sealed the deal for Zink to not do a 2nd run which would leave him finishing a dissapointing 6th place. Zink wanted to mention the donation page to help in Paul Bas's recovery: Paul Basagotia road to recovery #iRideForPaul and we at TLD urge you to go help Paul B in his recover. Zink would ultimately finish in 6th place, Zink would later learn that he was voted 2nd place in the People's Choice Award, behind TLD team mate, Brandon Semenuk.
Brandon Semenuk, who won this competition when he was 16 years old, is considered a Rampage veteran at only 23 yrs old and always a threat to win as he is regarded as the most innovative rider of our time. Brandon was giving the fan's a sneak peek of another 2016 Sprint kit, in addition he had a custom painted D3 carbon helmet featuring a new smoke treatment the TLD paint shop was playing with "I asked Troy Lee if I could run one of the new Sprint kits and he was cool with it, even though it's too early haha, so I picked this clean, red and white Sprint kit. I was stoked on the helmet, it had this holographic look in the RedBull silver, and the smoke was killer, they always have my lids dialed".
Brandon dropped in on his line that he created last year with his crew, but with some added refinements to it that had it a little more fun and trickable. When he got down, it was a run that everyone agreed would be the winning run, it was flawless, technical and high risk. Brandon's score came in with a 94.00 and we thought it stand for the day-but the judges would not have it, ultimately scoring 3 other riders with higher scores.
Redbull created a peoples choice fan voting system 3 years ago and Brandon would once again take home the peoples choice award, his 3rd in a row, winning a Polaris RZR "I am pumped on my build crew, they crushed the build this year, worked so hard, refined the line, and made it so sweet to do some radder tricks, it was a lot more fun to ride my line this year, I think I stomped it, did what I wanted to do, so I am real happy. Winning the peoples choice voting almost means more, knowing the fans thought I had the best run, its really sick, thanks to the fans watching and voting for me".
And so that closes out the 2016 mountain bike freeride season, with our team safe and sound, pushing the limits and coming out on top with the fans that follow the sport. Congrats to all of our team for riding so well, and we thank them all for their hard work with the brand in developing what we think is the best protection, apparel, helmets and sportswear in the world. Mixed in with an incredible season of World Cup Downhill racing with Aaron Gwin becoming the World Cup Champion in TLD Helmets and Apparel, Luca Shaw of SRAM/TLD Racing being the World Cup Rookie of the year, Brendan Fairclough back in the game, BMXers Sam Willoughby and Alise Post winning races all year, with some BMX still to come in the coming weeks-Thanks to all of our Athletes for making us better and pushing the limits.