Due Time

Being the 2019 Red Bull Joyride champion, all eyes were on Johansson as the 2020 Crankworx tour kicked off in Rotorua, New Zealand. Johansson, all business before the competition. Photo: Sven Martin

Due Time Emil Johansson and the Power of Perseverance

Imagine yourself transported back in time to the year 1966.

You wander into the Bag O’Nails club in Soho, London, where some of the most important pioneers of rock ’n’ roll guitar hang out and play. When a tall, left-handed guitarist from Seattle takes the stage, the assemblage of musical icons—people with names such as Clapton, Lennon, McCartney, Beck, Townshend, Jones and Jagger—are stunned by what they witness.

Beyond his hypnotic stage presence, Jimi Hendrix blew everyone’s minds with his ability to make an electric guitar manifest the creativity bubbling inside him into something tangible. The notion of an artist using their instrument as an extension of their own body has become almost clichéd, but in Jimi’s case it was completely true. In Jimi’s case it was as if the guitar translated the brilliance of his soul into a language the rest of the world could also experience.

Fast-forward 50 years to the 2016 Red Bull Joyride contest at Crankworx in Whistler, British Columbia, where the most influential slopestyle athletes in mountain biking were gathered for their annual redefi nition of progression. When a tall, fresh-faced 17-year-old from Trollhättan, Sweden, dropped in, all of the sport’s heroes stopped to pay attention.

The upper echelon of slopestyle is a tight-knit group, and the amount of respect they show eachother for the skill, dedication and inherent risk it takes to get to the top is evident. But this time there was a palpable level of extra interest. The superstars were silent, eyes trained on the rider on course. They were being more than polite, more than simply welcoming of a rookie into their club—they were peering intently into the future.

The kid did a clean, composed and confident top-to-bottom run. Opposite tailwhip to backflip barspin to one-footed can to oppo tailwhip to backflip barspin to 360 barspin with an inward table to backflip tailwhip to suicide no-hander to backflip barspin to 360 can to barspin to double bar and a 360 drop to finish. He played all the notes with precision and panache—and netted a fourth-place finish at the end of the day. It was one step shy of the podium, but a clear sign of the future.

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