The second FMB Gold Event of the season saw the world's best Slopestyle athletes compete in sunny France at the 21st edition of FISE Montpellier. With the defending champ Emil Johansson (SWE) out of order with back issues, the title was for the taking. Would Lukas Knopf (GER) be able to take the win after leading the pack in the Semi Finals? Or would Nicholi Rogatkin (USA) dominate and win his first ever contest at FISE Montpellier? After gusty winds had delayed the Semi Finals, the riders were in for a whole day of competing and the best 12 of the early-morning Semi Final qualified to drop in at prime time to battle it out for vital FMB World Tour points and two available FMB Wildcards for Crankworx Les Gets (June 24).
Everything is about the Super Final at FISE Montpellier. The best six riders after two runs of the 12 competing have one more additional run to work out the winner. But the Super Final wasn't a factor this time round. But let's start at the beginning. Paul Genovese (CAN) was looking to get three times lucky as he kicked off the final at his third FISE Montpellier appearance. The 24-year-old was able to put down a solid run (67.33) but didn't remain in first place after Jakub Vencl (CZE) put his newly accomplished Cash Roll to good use to score 72.00. The Czech remained at the top of the ranking for quite a while as only Paul Couderc (69.33, FRA) and Tom Isted (70.00, GBR) came marginally close.
With big shots of the likes of Diego Caverzasi (65.00, ITA) and Tomas Lemoine (66.33, FRA) also coming up short, it wasn't until Nicholi "Twister" Rogatkin took it to the dirt before Vencl had to step down. The FMB World Champion from 2016 sent a blazing run scoring 85.66. But was it going to last? German Lukas Knopf had to take a back-row seat after dropping in last in Run 1. The Semi Final winner would have to step up his game in Run 2 in order to have a chance of reaching the Super Final.
All eyes were on the "big names" from now on. "Veteran" Louis Reboul and Top 20 FMB World Ranking athletes of the likes of Lukas Knopf, Diego Caverzasi and Tomas Lemoine were all on the outside looking in to begin the second run. The first improvement came from Owen Marks (USA), who reshuffled the Top 6 thanks to scoring 77.00 on his second attempt. However the American couldn't enjoy his 2nd place for long as Reboul withstood the pressure and laid down a run good enough to secure him a Super Final spot in the end (79.33). Up until that point though only one rider had exceeded the 80 point mark. That was about to change.
After Isted also just about pipped Marks with a run awarding him with 77.33 point, the best riders in the field on paper - excluding Rogaktin who already had his spot for the Super Final sealed - put on a show. Diego Caverzasi (83.00), Tomas Lemoine (85.00) and Lukas Knopf (80.66) proved what they are made of and delivered under pressure. Isted, Reboul, Knopf, Caverzasi, Lemoine and Rogatkin were about to decide the contest in a final bout. However, neither rider was able to finish their run, leaving Nicholi Rogatkin the pleasure of celebrating his first ever win with the French fans.
FISE Montpellier Podium:
Click here for the full results.
Photos by Dopehammer