Credit: Laurence Crossman-Emms

THE FINALS THAT ALMOST NEVER WERE

After a tumultuous few days spent battling the worst that the New Zealand climate has to offer conditions looked bleak. Mercifully, on the morning of finals the rain relented, the sun reared its head and practice could begin.

Anthony Messere keeping things neat and tidy

Crankworx breeds progression and Rotorua was no different. The course had been updated for the first time since the inaugural event in 2015 and the riders were clearly enjoying it, even if conditions were inclement to say the best.

Crankworx Rotarua Slopstyle Course 2018
Brett Rheeder Backflip Rotarua New Zealand
Brett Rheeder at Crankworx Rotorua

Rheeder was looking like a man on a mission. He stomped his first run, culminating in a typically Rheeder-ish 720 bar-spin and scoring a 94.25 in the process. Enough to leave him sitting comfortably in first place.

Rheader going huge off the flat drop

Riders came and went, unable to surpass the gauntlet that Rheeder had thrown down.

Diego Caverzasi came close. The Italian threw down a stacked run and ended with a Twister, a trick that even he seemed surprised to land. Caverzasi's run earned him a 90.5 from the judges, enough to finish third on the day and officially mark himself as one to watch.

Diego Caverzasi at Crankworx Rotorua 2018

Thomas Genon was next to try and unseat Rheeder. Genon produced a sublime run, technical and precise, enough for second place but not enough to take down the main man.

Thomas Genon, Crankworx Rotorua, 2018, New Zealand

That left one man. Cue another chapter in the inevitable Rogatkin v Rheeder Crankworx showdown.

Rogatkin only knows one way to ride, all out. Knowing the score he needed to win, Rogatkin set about on a typically manic run, looking in contention until going down hard on a 1440.

Nicholi Rogatkin
Nicholi Rogatkin at crankworx Rotarua 2018
Nicholi Rogatkin receives a beer as a consolation

That left Rheeder the victor on the day. One run, one win. Quite the statement to start the season and the first step on the way to the elusive triple crown

Your 2018 Rotorua slopestyle podium

"I’ve worked toward this all winter. It’s been my goal. I’m on top of the world"

Rheader takes the win in New Zealand and a step towards the elusive triple-crown

With three more rounds to go then, Rheeder may have won the battle but the war continues. On to France

McGazza shit at Crankworx Rotorua 2018