When asked who they were most stoked on at Red Bull Rampage 2013, a lot of Rampage competitors name big-mountain specialist Graham Agassiz.
The Canadian rider handily won qualifying and went on to throw down one of the raddest 360s in the history of freeriding.
A crash left him out of the running in finals, leaving many to wonder just where he would have landed had he stuck it...
We caught up with Aggy to get his thoughts on this year's Rampage and the challenges that already lie ahead for the 2014 event.
Red Bull Bike: How did it feel to stand on top of the podium for qualifying?
Graham Agassiz: I had a lot of fun in the qualifiers. I went out wanting to win it and it all worked out. That hasn’t happened to me in a while. It really boosted my confidence.
Did you feel that you had a good chance coming into Rampage?
The whole event definitely suits my riding style. I had a lot of confidence going into it. Last year I felt good going into it but broke my ankle right before the event. It was a huge bummer.
But I was able to go down and help Kurt Sorge build his line and coach him a bit and he ended up winning. So I kind of saw what it took to win and had that insight going into it. I felt really confident and came close.
Yes, super close. How about that 360? You rarely see threes that dumped, especially in big-mountain environments. Were you pushing to get it that dumped?
I didn’t have the opportunity to hit that drop before the event. I pretty much went into it cold turkey. Right before I dropped in, my guys were still working on the landing for the drop leading into it, so I wasn’t sure I’d land that first drop. I knew if it worked, I had to spin it but wasn’t sure how fast to go…
I’ve never spun a drop like that and dumped it out quite like that. It felt natural, like I was snowboarding in a way. It worked out and ended up being really sick. I was stoked.
Does your snowboarding experience carry over in events like this?
A little bit. Definitely for scouting and reading terrain. The feel is quite similar. Descending a peak line [on a bike] is similar to backcountry skiing or snowboarding. I feel good with that kind of stuff.
Tell us about the crash on the wall that took you out.
The day before finals in practice I was looking at that thing with Sorge and I hit it fine with him there. I hit it a couple of times. I felt like I could move on.
Descending a peak line [on a bike] is similar to backcountry skiing or snowboarding.
In my first run I pulled up a little too much, got a little too excited, whipped it out and tried to get all steezy. I came down rear tire first and when the front tire came down my one hand came off the bar. I felt that I might be able to ride it out but it kind of slid out from underneath me. I was a little disappointed but that’s the way she goes.
Next year, you’ll be back in the same situation -- having to qualify for finals again. How does that feel?
It’s always a little bit frustrating. It’s so hard to be in the qualifiers and then make the podium in the finals after that. [This year] I had to build two lines: a qualifier line and a finals line. The whole time everyone is working on one line and I’m multi-tasking two lines. It’s twice the work, but in a way you get some runs out of the way and you get in the competition mindset early. I don’t mind it too bad… especially when you land on top of the qualifier podium.
If you're in the USA, be sure to tune in to NBC on Saturday, December 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET to watch the Red Bull Signature Series event recap show and don't miss the exclusive videos and photos on the official Red Bull Rampage site.