Semenuk scorches field to win Sea Otter Classic Dual Stunt Pro title Canadian rider Brandon Semenuk (Trek) used every ounce of energy that he could muster to pour on the pedals and shred the competition Sunday in the SRAM Dual Stunt Pro race on an unseasonably hot cent
Canadian rider Brandon Semenuk (Trek) used every ounce of energy that he could muster to pour on the pedals and shred the competition Sunday in the SRAM Dual Stunt Pro race on an unseasonably hot central California day.
Dual Stunt is a format that pits riders against one another head-to-head in a timed race back and forth across a 400-foot dirt and wood obstacle course.
"Stunts," per se, are not scored as points and have no bearing on the winners, as each race consists of two separate sprint heats that combine the time differential of each, although there were plenty of random back flips, no-handed landings, and other freeride tricks thrown in to entertain the sun-baked crowd.
Semenuk, atop his garishly glowing neon green and orange bike, soaked up the transitions between the dirt and wooden box sections of the Jeff-Lenosky-and-Kyle-Ebbett-designed course with startling ease, sailing to victory in the final race by airing over the 10-foot high steel shipping container well ahead of second place finisher Kyle Strait (Team America/Specialized).
Top-seeded Semenuk earned a victory check of $750 for his efforts, which was some solace after the day's bracket of eight races left the lanky 17-year-old exhausted to the point of near collapse due to effects of the searing heat.
"The sun was getting to me. I was just trying to reserve all energy, sit in the shade in between races and cool back down. When it was time to race, I just kept my head down and pedaled away," said Semenuk, a Whistler resident who won the first Sea Otter Classic title of his young career in an event that he didn't even plan on entering.
"He was just here on vacation, here to spectate, and I talked him into it," said Ebbett, who announced and organized the event. "Brandon used that ultra smooth style to his advantage today. He had power, but he used more of his grace and skill to win today," added Ebbett.
The riding styles and physicality of the two finalists could not be more different, as the long and lanky Semenuk deftly poured himself over the course which lay littered with geometric wooden structures known alternately as "coffin boxes," "nipples," and "dragon spines." After negotiating the array of tall and angular boxes, the riders made the turn at the end of the course on an upturned half-pipe known as a "curved wall" and sprinted back through the course to the finish, which lay on the other side of the ramped container box.
Strait, the defending champion from Costa Mesa, California, was more bull than rabbit as the linebacker-shaped rider muscled his way up and over the obstacles in a show of brute strength laced with subtle touches of flow.
"This is my third different event in two days. I have been training more for World Cup downhill racing, and I was definitely tired, but I felt pretty good. I raced in the downhill just twenty minutes before this race," said Strait, who takes home a $500 check for his work on the Dual Stunt Course.
"Little movements here and there make a big difference when you are tired, and I sort of lost my fluidity in the end. He (Semenuk) ran pretty mistake-free on both runs," added Strait.
Third-place went to course co-creator Lenosky (Giant), who celebrated his 38th birthday by competing in a field of fifteen racers (one dropped out after a nasty mountain bike accident earlier in the day) who were still in diapers when he started racing. "The guy I lost to (Semenuk, in the semi's), I have twenty years on," said Lenosky. "To hang with any of these racers, I'm happy. I can't complain!"
"Brandon is pretty much showing that he can do just about anything on a bike. The kid is just beyond. He is very impressive," said Lenosky of the victorious young phenom.
Riding their heavily-stickered, hard-tail mountain bikes with seats slung so low that it looks like they are riding on the back tire, the dirt-jumping Dual Stunt contestants stood out as heavily tattooed, ragged t-shirt, crusty-blue-jean-and-studded-belt-wearing individualists amongst the sea of skin-tight, ultra-breathable logo-wearing biking contestants from other Sea Otter events.
Semenuk exemplified the laid-back, hard-core style when he was asked to don the yellow victor's jersey for the podium photographs. The instant that he left the stage, and with the envelope containing his day's winnings sticking haphazardly out of his front pocket, and his sprocket shaped first-place medal hanging from a lanyard out of the other, he immediately tore off the prized jersey and jammed it into the back pocket of his rockstar tight, mud splattered grey jeans.