THE BRANDON SEMENUK STORY…AS TOLD BY BRANDON SEMENUK AND FRIENDSBrandon Semenuk has always intrigued us here at Dirt. He is without doubt one of the greatest mountain bike talents we have ever seen. He has all the moves, but what interested us the most was his somewhat aloof nature, there was just something about him, something different, something special…without even knowing him he seemed to be an interesting character. Seb Kemp takes up the story.
DIRT ISSUE 129 – FEBRUARY 2012
Words by Seb Kemp. Photos by Sterling Lorence and Sven Martin
Brandon Semenuk is a machine. Brandon Semenuk is an emotionless robot. Brandon Semenuk is too damn good at what he does. Brandon Semenuk is a no fun to watch ride.
I’ve heard all these remarks from people before. I don’t hear this often, but each time someone says something along these lines then I am taken aback.
I believe the reason for some of the sentiments is that he is so damn in control and does things so well that he desensitizes spectators to the technicality and difficulty of his runs. Some riders make things look exciting and wild because they are out of control and on the ragged edge. Brandon Semenuk on the other hand is in control, self–restrained, reliable and only does something if he can do it to his absolute best and feel good doing it.
This description could also double for an overview of his character. As I discovered, over several interviews with the man himself and a handful of people who know him best, he is a well grounded and clear–headed young man.
I knew very little about Brandon Semenuk before this assignment so I approached some people who might know him the best. I spoke with Jenine Bourbonnais, the owner of Whistler’s Evolution Shop, Brandon’s first sponsor when he was 7 years old; Tyler Morland of SRAM, also one of Brandon’s longest running sponsors; and Andrew Shandro, who got Brandon his first bike sponsor deal. Although all these people have some professional connection with Brandon, each one spoke of him with a great deal of fondness. Having got to know Brandon as a child and watched him grow as a person to become, in their eyes, more than just a poster signing, contest winning, video part mesmerizing mountain bike rider, but rather an outstanding individual with the kind of poise, maturity, and smarts required to elevate themselves to be great at what they choose to do and to do it with focused, methodical, calculated precision.
Brandon has been on this track to be the world dominating bicycle rider for most of his life and there have been people and situations along the way that have helped direct him and form his experiences: His rather unique upbringing in a bike centric, athlete training ground like Whistler, the adult experiences at such young ages, and the clarity it took to structure his life so that he could continue to progress.
Here I hope to present to you Brandon Semenuk the fallible human being who is determined enough to make himself appear superhuman. And who better to explain himself is the man himself and his oldest friends.The need for challenges and goals is an unending theme with Brandon. Never content to just participate he always wanted to try his best, push himself, and just generally try and outdo himself.
“I grew up riding and racing cross–country, which is a different route into professional freeriding, but it was just because that was around me. I was doing local races from a very young age. I did my first BC Cup (provincial race series) race when I was 9. I did downhill and cross–country and some had 4X too. Then when I was ten I decided I wanted to do them all, so from 10 to 14 years old I did the whole BC Cup series every year, plus a couple of Canada Cup and National Championships. Basically I’d do whatever cross–country races I could do.>>