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A Battle of Champions
by Doug Denance
See full pictures coverage of the event here
Monster Spectacular always is a “must see” when the big trucks visit the capital of Canada. But this time there was more on the line in Ottawa than ever before. It was to be a showdown between two champions – the defending Monster Spectacular champion, Joe Sylvester in the Readylift Bad Habit truck versus the newly crowned world freestyle champion, Jim Koehler and Avenger.
This battle had been fought before in this very same building one year ago. Last year Sylvester triumphed at Scotiabank Place by hitting massive reverser wheelies to defeat Koehler for the coveted Monster Spectacular crown.
This year Koehler’s confidence was boosted by the winning of his second world freestyle title in Las Vegas a few weeks before. But Sylvester had another year under his belt – and that year had the pressure of defending his Monster Spectacular crown at every turn.
Yet it looked like there could be a spoiler or two in this storyline, because some of the greatest names in monster trucks were sitting in the pits. Along with the brand new Higher Education truck, there sat 29 year veteran Mike Vaters and Black Stallion and the big dog Brutus driven by Chris Bergeron.
Bergeron put the first wrinkle into the flow by definitively winning the wheelie contest.
Bergeron blasted Brutus skyward on his first pass and landed “pogo” style, landing perfectly vertical by planting his wheelie bar into the final car in the stack. But his second pass was even more spectacular, hitting a massive sky wheelie. But the car stack collapsed sending Brutus sideways. Bergeron somehow pulled the big dog out of a bicycle on the passenger side two wheels and set the truck down on all four tires. Even Koehler preempted the cheeroff to congratulate the obvious winner – his Team Scream team mate, Chris Bergeron.
The next spoiler was Mike Vaters. The Black Stallion driver is known to be an extraordinary racer. He’s also known as the King of Concrete, with endless experience on the slippery surfaces like the track in Ottawa. Plus, he loves to race his way through the brackets. Vaters did just that, winning racing confidently.
So the story of the battle really did come down to the two champions in freestyle. While the other trucks laid down amazing freestyle runs that could easily win any other night, all eyes were on Bad Habit and Avenger.
Sylvester eased onto the course, knowing that the variable time clock would not start until he hit the first obstacle. Bad Habit hit every obstacle hard including not one, but two reversers – with the final one clearing all five cars in the stack.
During an interview the question was posed to Koehler if he could just lay back now that he was world champion once again. Koehler answered it then with a very loud no. And he answered it again very loudly with the roar of Avenger.
Hitting every obstacle multiple times, Avenger caught the biggest air of the night on each one. But it was Khoeler’s final cyclone donut that sealed the deal. Whirling so fast that Avenger seemed like a green blur, Khoeler emerged staggeringly dizzy to the loudest roar of all – that of the Monster Spectacular fans!
Those same fans were treated to more excitement in the form of quad racing, freestyle motocross and the Krazy Krew BMX team – who all jumped over the announcer’s head.
Be sure to treat yourself to all the excitement the next time Monster Spectacular comes to your town. Check out our schedule section for a show near you.
Pictures by Johany Jutras