Mehdi Gani, of France, and German Lukas Knopf stare down the FISE Slopestyle Mountain Bike Championship title at final competition in Chengdu, China
The man in charge heading into Sunday’s FISE Slopestyle Mountain Bike finals is a 21-year-old from Germany with a flawless semi-final run.
Lukas Knopf, 21, dropped from the 18-metre high entry to the course with a 360 bar-spin and went straight into a front flip no-hand, followed by a 360 no hand on the second jump. He managed a double tail whip up onto a unique quarter-pipe turn at the end of the course, where he through in a one-foot table, before coming down with a 360 and into a final 360 tail-whip on the last jump.
In his own words, it was flawless, and exactly what he will need to fend off seasoned French veteran Mehdi Gani, who sits in second place for the season-long championship title.
“I woke up and I knew I can do it,” he said. “I qualified first in front of Mehdi Gani and he’s a pretty good rider. He had a little mistake on the last front flip and I think it was the thing that put me in front.”
Niether Knopf nor Gani has ever won the FISE championship, but they are so close, it will take their absolute best performances to beat one another. Should Knopf win, Mehdi must come sixth or higher in order to take the overall.
For his part Gani says he will be trying to clean up his last trick, but otherwise do the same run—unless he sees he needs a stronger finish. Then he will pull out the same trick he opened with in Edmonton.
“I did a backflip tail-whip to bar-spin on the first jump. It’s a dangerous trick, so I will only do it if I have to,” he said.
Tomorrow’s finals will run at 16.40 (UTC+8). Results from Saturday’s Semi-final will be used to cull the field from 20 to 12 riders, and provide a seeding—from lowest to highest ranking rider.
The overall podium for the year will be Gani, Knopf and Tom Isted, of the United Kingdom—though the order has yet to be determined.
Watch the run of Lukas Knopf :