Emil Johansson – The Forbidden Dream
“It’s not something you dare to dream about to be honest so when it becomes a reality, it’s really hard to process.” With a score of 95.75, Emil took an unprecedented 6th straight Crankworx victory, and in the process took the Triple Crown, as well as securing the 2021 Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship title. We caught up with him while he takes a well-deserved break in New Zealand to catch some waves on the surfboard.
Six in row, did you ever think that was possible?
It’s something I tried to not pay much attention to. Of course, I got asked questions about it in the run up to the event so I couldn’t totally avoid it, but I just had to keep my mind focused on one contest at a time. If I started to think about the triple crown, it would have been a big picture to be distracted by.
We saw your reaction when it all became a reality, it looked like relief and disbelief all in one?
When Nicholi didn’t land his second run I knew instantly. To be fair, his run up to that point was amazing, and you’re thinking about scores and your own second run. Your emotions change in a blink of an eye and people start grabbing and hugging you and the congratulations flow. It wasn’t an easy week with the conditions so for everyone to get down safely, for the level to be so high, and with camaraderie at all time high between this group, it was just amazing. Winning the Triple Crown is a dream that I barely let myself have. There is so much on the line in a season where you need to win every single event to take it, so I tried to just focus on one at a time.
Emil started the 2021 Slopestyle World Championship with a score of 97.5 in Innsbruck on his second run. An uncharacteristic error on his first run, that was almost repeated on his second run really put the pressure on, but he held his nerve to take the series lead. A more dominant performance followed in Canada on the newly created slope line of Silverstar. Emil took top spot with a 95 from his first run, making him a big favourite in Rotorua. In Rotorua it was two of his four oppo combinations that really caught the eye, pushing the technical level of the sport to new levels. An early oppo triple tail whip was backed up with a huge finish with an oppo 360 double whip on the last jump.
Going back to before the season and looking back on 2020 in hindsight, how do you feel it went and how did that set the tone for 2021?
I was so stoked on how I was riding last year. I had one win at the end of 2019 and had a good progressive winter health wise. Then the world got flipped upside down and we all just need to be grateful we could compete at all. I won both Crankworx events that were on in 2020, but two isn’t three, so the math was quite simple. I did my best and to be honest, that missing event was a huge disappointment. It left me a bit underwhelmed, maybe unfulfilled; I just tried to let it keep the fire burning inside me. 2020 was a big achievement anyway, and over the winter I could appreciate what I’d done. I was healthy for the season, was pushing my own limits and I was totally happy with the balance I had struck and process I was in with riding, resting, and progressing.
That fire clearly had the right effect, so coming right back up Rotorua, how was the approach to this final event coming off the win in Silverstar?
Going into Rotorua I just tried to do what I had done in the past two events of the season; take one day at a time and separate out the overall honours from the event itself. There is no triple crown if one of the events doesn’t go well, but obviously the pressure was much higher going into Rotorua than it was in Silverstar or Innsbruck. I knew I was two contest runs away from something very special, so Rotorua was a completely new level.
The triple crown has only been awarded once before, in 2018 to Nicholi Rogatkin and it was Nicholi himself who did the honours and awarded the triple crown trophy to you. How did it feel?
It felt amazing to get presented the trophy by Nicholi, the only previous winner. It’s hard to believe it’s already three years since he did it and he’s the guy that showed us the triple crown was even possible; others had tried but Nicholi made it a reality. It felt unbelievable to keep that momentum going in terms of the triple crown award for the sport. To get my first one in the books is almost too big to grasp or even understand right now.