Brett Rheeder got the freeride mountain bike season off to a flying start on Sunday in New Zealand as he looks to put the disappointment of last summer behind him.
The 2014 FMB World Tour Diamond Series was a two horse race between Rheeder and fellow Canadian Brandon Semenuk, with the latter eventually coming out on top at the final event of the year – Red Bull Rampage.
But last year’s runner up claimed a deserved win at the opening event of 2015, the brand new Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle, stomping his first run to earn an unbeatable score of 93.33.
It’s going to be insanely hard to keep winning these events...
Semenuk, on the other hand, crashed as he played catch up on his second run in tricky conditions and was unable to challenge his rival’s best score.
And after Nicholi Rogatkin and Thomas Genon had secured their place on the podium, Rheeder was able to enjoy a victory lap.
“I feel amazing. I don’t think anyone expected to land the runs, due to the conditions of today’s course,” said Rheeder.
“But just getting down to the bottom and having a victory lap, it’s pretty special right now.
“I think it’s going to be so insanely hard to keep winning these events, but I’ll just do my best, and if it ends up happening at the end of the year, that’s amazing.”
The victory puts Rheeder at the top of the FMB World Tour rankings and in pole position for the new Crankworx Triple Crown, made up of Crankworx Les 2 Alpes and Crankworx Whistler, but his main target will be the Diamond Series overall victory.
He came second behind Semenuk at two of the five Diamond Series events last season, winning the Bearclaw Invitational, and finishing fifth at Rampage – where Semenuk got third.
But this victory could be a sign of things to come from Rheeder as he looks to topple the dominant Semenuk.
“I always feel like I’m in Brandon’s shadow,” he said. “To come down and win today feels amazing.
“Brandon did get hurt today and couldn’t do his second run, so maybe some could argue that he would have had the winning run, but it’s so hard to say with the level of riding here.”
The next Diamond Series event on the FMB World Tour is Crankworxs Les 2 Alpes in France on July 12th.