Emil Johansson made history again on Sunday at Crankworx Rotorua. The 22-year-old Swede became only the second-ever rider to win Crankworx Triple Crown of Slopestyle as well as the Crankwrox FMBA Slopestyle World Championship title.
Griffin Paulson was the top rider for Canada, scoring 84.25 to take sixth in the stacked slopestyle field.
History and sportsmanship in Rotorua
It was a day of sportsmanship and skill in Rotorua. Johansson continued to push slopestyle to new heights with his sixth consecutive Crankworx win. Nicholi Rogatkin, the only other rider to win Crankworx’ Triple Crown, stepped up too show his respect for the new champion by presenting the Swede with the award he first won.
“Speechless. This will have to settle for a bit. I can’t even put it into words,” said Johansson after his win. “I just at the moment can reflect on the past and how much stuff that needed to be put in place to get this far. My sixth Crankworx event in a row winning. And last year getting the overall canceled, it was something I was definitely looking forward to for this year. And then to be on top of that and getting the Triple Crown…it’s too big to grasp.”
Also big? The pay-out. The three titles each carry five figure prize purses. $25,000 for the Triple Crown title. $20,000 for the Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza event win. $15,000 for the FMBA overall title. It’s a staggering single-day figure, but one that reflects years of work and consistently being the best in the game. It’s even more remarkable, considering Johansson’s winning streak started after recovering from a years-long battle with a rare autoimmune disease.
Triple Crown pressure
With his win in Rotorua, Johansson becomes only the second rider in history to claim Slopestyle contests in the season and take home Triple Crown of Slopestyle title. The pressure of the crown has caused several of the sports top names to crumble. Brett Rheeder famously battled with the crown for two years, never to win it. For Johansson, success was a mental battle as much as a physical one.
“I just tried my best to look at it like any other competition. But unavoidably there was a lot on the line for this day…It’s four years in the works, and a lot more effort before that. Speechless. It’s been a long road for sure.”
One rider that knows that trip is Nicholi Rogatkin, the only other rider to have earned the title. The American, who finished third in Rotorua, was ecstatic with Johansson’s run. He even asked to present the Triple Crown trophy himself.
“The energy was absolutely amazing today,” said Rogatkin after the podium presentation. “We’re doing the awards right now and it sounds incredible down here. I know the struggles of the Triple Crown. I experienced Brett [Rheeder] go through it two times and not get it. I experienced myself go through it two times. One time I failed, one time I got it. I know how amazing it is when you win the Triple Crown, and I know how absolutely devastating it is when you blow that chance and that opportunity. So I was rooting for Emil today, and I was also doing everything in my power to stop him in my second run. It didn’t quite come together for me. But this man has won six consecutive Slopestyle competitions, so I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. And handing it over to him is a moment that I’ll never forget, and I don’t think he’ll ever forget it either. I’m so proud of him. So proud.”
Johansson’s stunning run
Emil Johansson secured his title with the first of his two runs. The Swede dropped last in the field of 13 riders, laying down a near-perfect run executed with style and precision to score a 95.75. That put him ahead of Rogatkin. As riders headed back up the mountain, dropping in one by one, only Timothé Bringer was able to come close to Johansson’s soaring score. The French rider posted a 93.25 to edge ahead of Rogatkin’s 92.
“I came down with a first run I was really stoked on, which basically secured me second in the Slopestyle World Championship with that first run,” said Rogatkin. “And then I tried to do everything I could to take down Emil on my second run. Didn’t quite get the 1440 I was hoping for on the third jump. Didn’t quite rotate the front flip superman on the second to last jump, but I still finished in third place overall for the day and second place overall for the championship.”