Canadians dominated the storylines at Red Bull Rampage 2019. Led by Brandown Semenuk, Canada landed an incredible podium sweep in one of the most competitive years of competition in recent memory.
As Rampage returned to the same site for a second consecutive year, riders had lines dialed and lucked into excellent weather conditions. This meant more riders successfully completed runs, and saw more riders put down high-scoring runs.
Hat trick for Semenuk
It was a moment of redemption for Semenuk, who had a rare moment of struggle at Rampage in 2018. Returning to the same line, the Canadian stomped a near-flawless run to take the win this year. With a trick-packed, hyper-stylish run, including a opposite 360 backflip, Semenuk secured his third Rampage victory.
While he may have been alone on the bike during his winning run, Semenuk was quick to credit his dig crew, Evan Young and Justin Wyper, who spent the week leading up to the event working with him to finish building his line. “The build crew is a big part of the whole thing,” Semenuk said, adding “My build crew absolutely crushed it. They just know what to do.”
It may have been the second year at this Rampage site, but the was still a huge amount of work to be done before Friday’s competition. “We worked until the last minute getting everything super dialled,” Semenuk said. “Massive thanks to those guys. They did an awesome job.”
In doing so, Semenuk becomes only the second rider to earn a hat-trick of Rampage titles. His 2019 title adds to earlier victories in 2008, which he captured at just 17 years old, and in 2016. The only other rider to achieve three wins is Kurt Sorge, of Nelson B.C. Sorge won in 2012, 2015 and 2017. One of six Canadians competing in Utah this year, Sorge finished 18th.
Rough AF at Rampage: Riders pay tribute to Jordie Lunn
Semenuk’s win was an emotional one, even for the notoriously reserved rider. Still in the finish corral after his second run, Semenuk shared how much the win meant to him, coming so close after the passing of his friend, and Canadian freeride legend Jordie Lunn.
“Jordie … I don’t think people realize how much he’s done for me. When I was super young, he essentially coached me at times. He’s been a best friend to me forever, so obviously we’re thinking about him every day.”
Lunn’s memory was ever present at this years Red Bull Rampage. Every rider paid some form of tribute to the immensely popular and charismatic rider. Lunn, who was close friends with many of the competitors, as well as fans, media and support crew gathered in Utah for Rampage, died just weeks ago after a riding accident in Mexico.
World Cup downhill racer Brendan Fairclough, who finished fourth on Friday in Utah, used his second run to pay tribute to Lunn. While he could have tried to improve his score in a bid for the podium, Fairclough rode part way in to his line then stopped at his iconic “Dwayne Johnston” feature. Instead of dropping of the giant rock, Fairclough stopped and started doing push-ups for Lunn. The moving tribute earned a loud ovation from the gathered crowd.
Fairclough wasn’t the only one laying down pushups for Lunn, though. Kamloops, B.C.’s Graham Agassiz also put down a few sets in the finish area after his run.
Canadians sweep Rampage podium
While all eyes were on Semenuk as he reclaimed his crown, Canadians swept all three podium positions at 2019 Red Bull Rampage.
The defending Rampage champion coming into Friday, Brett Rheeder was the only other rider to crack the 90-point barrier. Rheeder, a long-time rival of Semenuk’s, struggled on his first run, scoring just 84.33. The Ontario-born rider stepped it up in his second run. As winds began to pick up, Rheeder scored a 91.00 takes second place, finishing just shy of Semenuk’s winning score of 92.33.
Rheeder also won the Best Trick Award, for a huge, and hugely technical, can-can backflip.
RELATED: Results: Red Bull Rampage 2019
In third, Tom van Steenbergen. The third Canadian on the podium lay down a huge first run full of his trademark out-sized backflips. With a score of 89.66, van Steenbergen was sitting second behind Semenuk, and opted not to take his second run. This allowed Rheeder the opportunity to move past into second place. A podium at Red Bull Rampage is a huge accomplishment for any rider, though, and van Steenbergen was satisfied with third.