Slopestyle Profile: Thomas Genon
Curious about the riders most likely to send it when Mountain Bike Slopestyle makes its X Games debut in Munich? For starters watch for Belgian rider Thomas "La Frite" Genon, a relative unknown in the sport before swooping in to win three events on the 2012 Freestyle Mountain Bike World Tour – including the top-tier Diamond-level Red Bull Joyride event at Crankworx in Whistler, British Columbia – and taking third place in the overall season rankings.
Genon, 20, will be one of the youngest riders in the field in Munich, but he may also have gotten the earliest start of any of them. "I've always been interested in biking," he says. "When I turned eight my dad brought me to a little bike school. I loved it and started racing dual slalom and downhill, and slowly switched to dirt jumping and now slopestyle."
The course in Munich caters to both technical slopestyle specialists and big air stylists. Genon, an accomplished freerider, is more than a bit of both: His winning run at Crankworx last year featured a massive front flip, a backflip onto a cabin feature on the course and a tailwhip on the final hit. That left him in victory lap position, unbeknownst to him, inspiring one of the great quotes of the 2012 tour: "I was fixing my music at the top of the run (before my final run) and someone came over to tell me that I won the comp," he explained later.
He's off to a strong start so far in 2013 with a second place finish at the Vienna Air King event in Austria and third place at the FISE World Montpellier Slopestyle competition in France. But Diamond-level events like the one at X Games Munich are where big shakeups in the overall rankings are pretty much a sure thing.
"The level is really high now," he says, as he and his peers prepare to take their sport to the X Games audience. "I think people are going to love it because the jumps are really big."
Genon says he can't wait to put on a show for X Games fans, and says he hopes the event helps draw attention to the sport and to other events on the FMB World Tour circuit. "X Games isn't the only big event this year," he says, as a reminder. "We also have Joyride [in Whistler] and Rampage [in Virgin, Utah] as Diamond events. I'm looking forward to those and to all the Gold-level events too, which should be a lot of fun."
Everyone competing in Munich has what it takes to win, Genon says, but he predicts the toughest competitor will be the reigning 2012 FMB World Tour champ. "Brandon Semenuk is going to be one of the hardest guys to beat," he says. Genon signed on with Red Bull in January, meaning he and Semenuk are now teammates, but that hasn't fizzled their on-course rivalry one bit. "I'm approaching the training for X Games just as I do for every contest," he says. That means he's training to go, and win, big.