Cam Zink's record 'just the beginning'
Among his peers, Cam Zink is known as the most confident man in mountain biking.
Thursday night, Zink was gifted another moniker: Officially Awesome. That's how Guinness World Records representative Alex Angert welcomed Zink to the "Guinness family" moments after Zink landed the longest mountain bike backflip in history -- 100 feet, 3 inches -- at Mammoth Mountain's Canyon Resort.
"It's like a dream. It was the smoothest landing I've ever had. I mean, I just popped off and was like, 'holy moly' I forgot how long I'd be in the air," Zink said after being mobbed by his Monster family and celebrating with his fiancé Amanda Witherspoon and 10-month-old daughter, Ayla, who stayed awake long enough to see her dad's wheels touch dirt. "I still felt comfortable, but I'm like, 'Man, I'm just staring at the sky forever.' It's a long flight."
By landing the jump, Zink not only set the official world record, he also broke the current unofficial record of 78 feet, which he set only 10 months ago at Red Bull Rampage. But Zink wasn't interested in simply breaking his own record. For him, Thursday night's event was about pushing the progression of his sport and bending his own limits by landing a triple-digits backflip. He said anything less, even an official world record of fewer than 100 feet, would feel like a successful failure.
"I came here to jump 100 feet," Zink said Wednesday afternoon after his first morning of practicing dirt-to-dirt. "All of this, all of the work and preparation and years of dreaming has been about proving it's possible to flip 100 feet. That's what I plan to do."
When Zink made good on that promise, and really throughout the weeks leading up to the live event and during the hourlong show, Zink did more than push the progression of his sport. With each interview and speed run broadcast live on ESPN, he endeared himself to a mainstream sports crowd largely unfamiliar with the sport of mountain biking. And his professionalism, confidence and unwaveringly positive attitude throughout the months of preparation and practice earned him the respect of the action sports community and his mountain biking peers.
Snowboarders Kelly Clark, Sage Kotsenburg and Kimmi Fasani attended to support Zink, as well as multisport legend Shaun Palmer, whom Zink credited with being one of his biggest sources of inspiration and motivation throughout the night.
Although Thursday night's jump was the culmination of months of planning and years of dreaming, it was only the beginning of what Zink now believes is possible on his bike. On Friday morning, he leaves Mammoth for back-to-back-to-back freeride contests. Next year, he says, he has a few ideas for other, equally spectacular feats.
"People have asked why I'm going to do anything more this year. I think my sponsors would be happy with me taking time off," Zink said. "But I don't want to take a break. I'm so excited about riding right now. I feel so confident and comfortable on my bike. There's just so much I want to do, so many tricks. And who knows, maybe we can go 150, 200 feet. This is just the beginning."
A few minutes after the jump, the mainstream crowd began chiming in with congratulations, as well. The #MammothFlip was named No. 3 on SportsCenter's nightly Top 10 list and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper tweeted, "That was an absolutely insane jump by @CamZink! 100 ft 3 inches ... SICK! #MammothFlip #worldofxgames".
By Friday morning, it looks like Zink might have another, well-deserved nickname: The Most Popular Man in Action Sports.