Three new members of the Red Bull Rampage course build crew have showed up on site: brothers Robbie and Dennis Bourdon, and Adam Billinghurst — all three Canadian, and all three extremely talented professional bike riders. Adam had a segment in last year’s‘Strength in Numbers’ film and has been a member of the Whistler Bike Park trail crew for many years. Dennis is a former racer, and Robbie has competed at every single Red Bull Rampage event save one, when he was injured. He will be competing again this year.
These builders bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to an already stacked team. Work on the Red Bull Rampage course is proceeding ahead at an ever-faster pace as we reach the midpoint of the build. Every day new features seem to pop up on course out of nowhere, and pre-existing ones are drastically increased in size.
The ladder bridge is now complete, and serious work is now focused on perfecting the landing and quarterpipe at the finish line. Russell Shumaker, who is a former professional ATV racer, was kind enough to test-ride this feature to help the crew place the landing after the gap “just right.” Up top, the Coffin gap has been buffed out and reshaped, along with a series of additional drops and jumps. Everywhere the eye looks there are features tucked away just waiting for riders to test and work into their lines.
A rider favorite — the large wooden step-up near the bottom, is returning this year, with a twist. A second, massive 60-foot-tall dirt step-up jump is being built nearby to provide athletes with more options to showcase their skills. The new run-in to the dirt step-up leads down from Shocker ridge, and it’s looking fast. These two features will allow for bigger tricks to be thrown, such as backflips, tailwhips and 360s.
This season has been unnaturally wet, and there has been an excess of rainfall lately. Yesterday the Virgin area was issued tornado, lightning, and flash-flood warnings. The huge deluge of water that fell quickly turned the abundant sand to a thick, sticky quagmire which made travel rather difficult — rather “sticky” to say the least. However, once it hardens up it will reinforce and strengthen the dirt structures and trails.
After a day and a half of torrential, monsoon-like rainfall, we had another absolutely spectacular, jaw-dropping sunset out in the desert. Watching the sky ablaze in color and listening to coyotes howling at the setting sun isn’t a bad way to end a long work day. Stay tuned for more updates as the Bourdon brothers and the rest of the crew go to it with a vengeage on the infamous Oakley Icon Sender.
After a grueling, tedious week of work on the Red Bull Rampage course, the new start area is finally complete. This will be the first year competitors will be starting their descent from the highest possible elevation on course.
There are two new routes off the top for athletes to pick from: Rider’s right goes over the “scissor drop” and down a steep chute before veering further right and hugging the face of a cliff for 100 feet and continuing over to much more terrain and route choices. Rider’s left goes down “Shocker Ridge,” which involves a gap jump to knife-edge landing, followed by a series of drops down the ridgeline.
Josh Bender and Randy Spangler have completed most of the work up top, occasionally joined by Lindsey Beth Currier. The area needed a lot of meticulous work to widen the chutes, landings, plateaus and trails across steep faces. Cliffs needed to be trimmed back to ensure that riders’ bars won’t snag as they pass by. This work was especially slow, as the rock was quite hard and work had to be done by hand with picks and hammers because of the precarious location.
Due to the dust and dirt that would linger in the air during work, Josh and Randy have been wearing bandanas over their mouths to prevent inhalation of particles. Combine the bandanas with sunglasses, straw hats and torn sleeveless shirts and put them either in Tom Cars (small dune buggy-like vehicles) or on dirtbikes and they often resemble characters out of “Mad Max” rather than trail builders.
When the builders were asked how the name “Shocker Ridge” was bestowed, the story was told of an incident two years ago when Spangler was struck by lightning in the very same area. We had witnessed multiple lightning storms over nearby mountain ranges in the past week, so it was difficult to question the validity of his story.
A typical work day for diggers starts around 8:00 a.m. and continues until 2:00 p.m. with a two-hour break until 4:00 p.m., when they head back out to the site and continue until sundown — around 8:00 p.m. It isn’t hard to work late when the sunsets are absolutely breathtaking. Riding back in the dark isn’t bad either, as nights are generally clear and the moon and stars provide ample illumination for the journey home.
Stay tuned for more updates as Jeremy Witek and Russell Shumaker have been busy working on the new ladder bridge to quarterpipe, a brand-new feature for this year that will definitely up the stakes at the finish line.
The mountains near Virgin, Utah, are beginning to rumble once again as Red Bull Rampage, the pinnacle of freeride mountain bike competition, readies for its return on October 5-7, 2012. Spectator tickets are now available, course construction is already underway and the exclusive invite list — featuring the world’s best mountain bike riders — has officially been finalized (see below).
After a thrilling contest at Red Bull Joyride, riders were selected according to predetermined qualification criteria to fill the open spots on the Red Bull Rampage competitor list, which includes riders from 11 different nations.
The field features veterans like Mike Kinrade and Kyle Strait — who hold the honor of having competed in every Red Bull Rampage event — and rookie phenoms like Anthony Messere who, at 17, will be the youngest rider in the field.
Heavy hitters like Brandon Semenuk, who already has a Red Bull Rampage win under his belt, will join the field with Martin Söderström and Thomas Genon, with all three gunning not only for the 2012 Red Bull Rampage title, but also for the overall 2012 FMB World Tour Championship crown. Semenuk’s points advantage will seal the deal if he stands anywhere on the podium.
For 2012, a lucky 1,800 spectators will get the opportunity to witness all the action firsthand in the picturesque desert of Utah. Tickets are available now for the competition days of October 5 and 7 (course will be closed to spectators on October 6). Tickets are $15 and include entry on both days. Please read the spectator advisory on the ticket page and note that the event site is remote and requires a four-mile hike or bike ride into the venue.
If you can’t make it to Utah, don’t sweat it — there are several ways to catch the event while keeping your shoes clean. A live webcast will capture all the action on October 7 at the official Red Bull Rampage site.
Fans can also tune into the TV broadcast on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series. The event will air on Saturday, December 8 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PT.
|INVITED FOR QUALIFIER
||COUNTRY||PRE-QUALIFIED FOR FINAL||COUNTRY|
|Graham Agassiz||CAN||Gee Atherton||GBR|
|Paul Basagoitia||USA||Darren Berrecloth||CAN|
|Antoine Bizet||FRA||Logan Binggeli||USA|
|Garett Buehler||CAN||Robbie Bourdon||CAN|
|James Doerfling||CAN||Geoff Gulevich||CAN|
|Brendan Fairclough||GBR||Andreu Lacondeguy||ESP|
|Pierre Edouard Ferry||FRA||Tyler McCaul||USA|
|Thomas Genon||BEL||Alex Prochazka||CAN|
|Yannick Granieri||FRA||Brandon Semenuk||CAN|
|Jamie Goldman||USA||Kurt Sorge||CAN|
|Casey Groves||CAN||Kyle Strait||USA|
|Mick Hannah||AUS||Thomas Vanderham||CAN|
|Mike Hopkins||CAN||Cameron Zink||USA|
|Chris Van Dine||USA|
Construction for the premier big mountain freeride event of the year — Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution — is now officially underway. Building commenced this past Saturday, with the digging crews arriving on site and moving equipment out to the venue.
Since its inception, Red Bull Rampage has worked with Todd Barber of H5 Events, and this year they have put together an extremely talented crew of diggers to sculpt, shape and construct the competition venue features. The team includes Jeremy Witek of Global Action Sports Solutions, Randy Spangler and Josh Bender, who is responsible for introducing the original site location to Todd and Red Bull.
After taking a hike around all the different routes and lines, the diggers were beyond stoked. Bender, who has been on every Red Bull Rampage build to date, reported that course conditions were the best he had ever seen. Happy with what they found, the crew immediately got to work on some of the new additions.
Red Bull Rampage 2012 is being held at the same location as the 2008 and 2010 events, a few miles off the beaten path in Virgin, Utah. Despite the fact that the site is the same, things are going to be different this year in a BIG way. Red Bull Rampage 2012 will feature a new start location from the highest possible elevation within the venue. This opens up 25% more terrain for riders to pick lines from, and includes multiple new wood and dirt features on the way down.
Over the past two years Mother Nature has aided the building process by buffing out previously-formed features and lines, compacting and hardening the topsoil with rain and wind. Normally the soil is extremely light and low in moisture, blowing away easily. This makes it difficult to build and form features that will last through multiple riders. With recent heavy rains, conditions are now beyond ideal and the site is looking absolutely immaculate. This year is shaping up to provide the best conditions possible for riders to showcase their talent and push the limits of the sport.
A total of 44 athletes were invited to compete at Red Bull Rampage this year, including 13 athletes pre-qualified into the Final, like past winner Brandon Semenuk. He will be joined by hopefuls like the young Red Bull Joyride podium finisher Anthony Messere and overall World Cup winner Gee Atherton. This year downhill racers, slopestyle athletes and freeride competitors will go head-to-head at the biggest and gnarliest competition in biking, and everything is lining up for these athletes to give it their all, with nothing left in the tank at the bottom of the courrse. Stay tuned for more updates, including a look at some of the new course features.
Back in 2001, the Red Bull Rampage concept was conceived to serve one of the fringes of the blossoming mountain-bike movement. There were riders — courageous, driven and a little crazy — who were at once exploring new terrain, testing their own limitations and defining a new genre of the sport, and their riding style was not represented at all in competition. Freeride mountain biking was rapidly evolving with every insane drop and first descent, and Red Bull Rampage was on board to help push it even harder.
The inaugural event was a landmark in the sport’s history and was followed by three more through 2004. If you won Red Bull Rampage — or even survived the weekend with all your bones intact — your reputation as a bad ass on two wheels was unassailable. Unlike events with a defined course and familiar obstacles, Red Bull Rampage let the riders determine their own route down treacherous cliffs; the more creative and risky the line, the better the score.
After 2004, the event went on hiatus, but the memories — and the reputation — grew in scale. The mountain-bike contest scene did evolve to address the changes in the sport, but in general it still lagged behind what the most progressive riders were capable of. As contest riders began to get pigeonholed into separate disciplines — downhill, slopestyle, dirt jumping — it was the freeride ethos that leveled the playing field. You needed skills in every aspect to survive a true freeride run, and the time came once again to prove who had the balls to get it done.
Red Bull Rampage made its return in 2008 with yet another epic gathering of the best mountain bike riders in the world. Anyone who believed the sport couldn’t progress further would have eaten their words on that dusty ridge near Virgin, Utah. Man-made “enhancements” graced the venue for the first time, but the main objective remained: find the most challenging lines down the mountain and ride them with style. Regardless of their background, the riders were all equal at the top of the mountain; equal in the challenge they faced to get to the bottom of it.
The next event was held in 2010, punctuated by Cameron Zink’s jaw-dropping 360 off a 40-foot drop. Every time Red Bull Rampage takes place, individuals push themselves like never before, collectively progressing the sport to a new level. The time has come again: On October 5-7, 2012, mountain biking’s best will return to southern Utah to climb the next — or the next few — rungs of the ladder.
Athlete selection criteria has been announced, and the aim has been to collect the best of the best, the top riders in many disciplines who own the skills to survive in the desert.
Zink and Brandon Semenuk, the 2010 and 2008 champions, will automatically be placed into the October 7 final. The top 12 finalists from 2010 are pre-qualified, excused from competing in the October 5th qualifying battle. Invites to the qualifier will go out to the top 12 ranked riders from the FMB World Tour, as well as the top two finishers at the Chatel Mountain Style in France in July. Red Bull Rampage serves as the final stop on the 2012 FMB World Tour.
More details will be available soon; outside of the actual event dates, clear some space on your calendar on Saturday, December 8 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET to watch all of the best action from Red Bull Rampage on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series.