With less than 24 hours to go until the raddest freeride contest of the year takes place again, we’re bringing you a preview so you’re completely up to speed before the broadcast on Red Bull TV, which starts on Friday at 18:00 CET. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Red Bull Rampage 2017!
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock since 2001 or your parents finally let you watch some serious TV instead of the umpteenth version of Whatever Country’s Got Talent, and are completely unaware as to what we’ll be talking about, here’s your answer;
Red Bull Rampage is arguably the biggest test of guts, skill and creativity on a bike. Held in the iconic Navajo Sandstone Cliffs and mountains of Southern Utah on the edge of Zion National Park, 21 elite riders will have to show massive tricks, gnarly drops and jaw-dropping lines to impress the judges. With a new additional ridge opened at the venue playing to the benefit of the freeriders, expect some massive steep lines!
21 athletes building their own lines without the use of power tools, diggers, excavators or any kind of machinery is already a pretty big indication of the absolutele badassery that is about to unfold. In the week leading up to the event, each rider, together with his dig crew, builds their choice of drops, landings, booters, transitions etc. all while thinking about one thing, and one thing only; will this be a winning line?
So who are the riders to watch? What’s been going down in Utah? Read on below as we bring you this monster preview!
Three Times Lucky?
No athlete has ever managed to win Red Bull Rampage three times, but with two-time winners Brandon Semenuk (CAN), Kyle Strait (USA) and Kurt Sorge (CAN) in the lineup, the odds have never been higher. Defending champion Semenuk is already one of the world’s most decorated freeride athletes and could additionally write history this year as the first back-to-back winner of the event. Strait meanwhile, is the only rider who has competed in every edition of Red Bull Rampage, taking part in the inaugural 2001 event as a 14-year-old grom, and shows no sign of slowing down. Sorge on the other hand, holds the distinction of the most decorated athlete in the history of the event and is keen to keep it that way.
Here’s Semenuk’s winning run from last year.
Known for his flawless style and techy spins, he’s less of a big mountain rider and more of a trickster. Does he have what it takes to beat the absolute onslaught of riders, veterans and rookies alike. Just a few guys he should watch out for: Antoine Bizet, Brett Rheeder, Tommy Genon, Cam Zink, Kyle Strait, Kurt Sorge, Bearclaw and Andreu Lacondeguy.
Speaking of Kyle Strait, it’s time to travel back in time 13 years.
Strait has taken part in every single Rampage ever. Cam Zink is up next with 10 editions under his belt. It’s going to be interesting to see what they can bring to the table (or cliff face, actually).
Kurt Sorge finished just shy of a Top 3 spot last year (honestly, he should’ve been Top 3, but we’re not the judges). He’s definitely got the stones to take the fight to Semenuk and Strait. Will he be three times lucky?
Ethan Nell and Reed Boggs will be riding their first ever Rampage lines tomorrow and both could be considered to be part of the new generation of freeride. Both of the young American rippers have been destroying the scene for a while now, climbing the ranks and it’s no surprise that they were sent the coveted invite for Red Bull Rampage (But yo, Red Bull, what about DJ Brandt??? He better be on the list next year).
Boggs currently competes in the FMB World Tour Diamond Series, making his first appearance on the big stage earlier this year in Rotorua and was one of few riders who qualified directly for Red Bull District Ride. He’s a hard charger and all week we’ve been seeing some big lines from the young guy already, but if you’re still not sure about Boggs, here’s a steezie little clip for you.
As for Ethan Nell, you can put this guy in the same category of riders as Andreu Lacondeguy. A couple of screws loose, but all for the better, as this kid throws HUGE lines down every feature, whether it’s just a chill evening sesh or rocking the Goblin drop in Utah. Just check out the video below, in which he chases Nico Vink, a legend himself, down the big boy jumps at Loosefest, ending it with a steezy 3.
Another rookie looking to make it big this year is Vinny T (Vincent Tupin). Basically, this guy is just really, really good at riding bikes and, just like Nell, has shown the world what he has by taking on the Fest Series. This guy is a maniac, plain and simple.
Check out his warm-up laps from earlier this week.
Slopestyle vs. Freeride
Rampage has always been the place that brings together legends from the freeride scene as well as the slopestyle world. Riders like Tommy G and Carson Storch go up against freeriders like Bearclaw and Logan Bignelli, while Canuck slopestyle wizards Rheeder and Semenuk continue their battle from the FMB World Tour on the big bikes out in Utah.
While you can expect the slopestyle guys to throw down some serious heat and nail some big tricks, the freeride hombres will ride those BIG mountain lines, styling it up on the transitions with a manny thrown in to the mix.
So who will it be? Will Semenuk, Sorge or Strait get three times lucky? Will this year be considered the rise of the rookies? Or will the veterans throw down on the mountain and take top spot? Only one way to find out: tune into the Red Bull TV stream on Friday, October 27th at 18:00 CET and watch all the action from the world’s best freeride contest LIVE!