In the rebounding year of mountain bike events, which included the Olympics, no gathering is more elite than Rampage.
The 20th running of Red Bull’s extreme freeride event delivered everything it was supposed to. Big lines. Bigger tricks. And massive crashes.
Rampage might appear confusing to many outside the core community of freeride mountain biking. It remains one of the most viewed mountain bike events, attracting a broad audience. However, the rider list is limited to only the very best invited riders.
Rampage is unlike any other event. Winds can play havoc with the rider runs. Often a rider who is on form all week will have their final run disrupted by a wind surge. And with the extreme gradients involved and the amount of hangtime that Rampage riders get in the air, wind has a massive influence in the Utah desert.
The one thing that was certain at this year’s Rampage, was Brandon Semenuk’s expected dominance. Without question, the most innovative freeride mountain biker of the last decade, Semenuk was the defending Rampage champion.
Despite the year of competition hiatus, the 2019 winner made good on a fourth Rampage title, by winning this year’s event. Not only did Semenuk become the first rider to secure four Rampage wins but also the first rider to successfully defend a title.
A very special Session
Progression is a theme of Rampage, with riders attempting the impossible and hoping their bikes stay together. What made Semenuk’s fourth Rampage win pivotal, was his choice of bike.
The Trek Session is a regarded downhill racing frame, but Semenuk had his own very custom interpretation of the ideal bike for Rampage.
Looking to leverage his huge slopestyle trick list, Semenuk ran a single crown RockShox ZEB, rather than a dual crown fork like the rest of the field. We have seen riders run single crown forks in the past, but this has often come at the sacrifice of being able to tackle some of the more extreme terrain costing them points with the judges.
Semenuk crashed on his first run and was straight back up the mountain to kick off the second runs. Dropping in he stomped his run in classic Semenuk style, a demonstration of high technical ability and oozing with flow and precision. The crux was a huge tailwhip drop in the middle of his run and he finished off with the run with a massive backflip tailwhip on the final jump.
It was a Canadian one-two with Kurt Sorge taking the second step on the podium with an 88.33. The previous three-time Rampage veteran took on the ridgeline with a variety of high exposure tricks and finished his run with a trio of flips that scored well with the judges. This was enough to better his first run score of 73.66 and move up from seventh place.
Reed Boggs finished up the podium, his run was unique as the only rider to hit the legendary Goblin Drop this year. His first run saw him roll his tire off the rim near the bottom of his run on the landing of a huge 360 drop which resulted in his inner tube wrapping around the frame. Luckily it didn't result in a crash and he was able to clean his second run to score an 87.
A defining Red Bull Rampage moment
It's not just podium spots that are available as Red Bull honor notable riders special awards. The most notable will be Tom Van Steenbergen who pulled a massive front-flip drop which will be the move that defines the next 10 years of Rampage. Unfortunately, Van Steenbergen over-rotated a backflip on the following jump and suffered a huge crash. This isn't the first time Van Steenbergen has made history with a front flip having previously attempted to front-flip the 72-foot canyon gap at Red Bull Rampage 2014.
Red Bull Rampage debutant Jaxson Riddle made a mark on his first showing with heavily motocross inspired run that secured him the Best Style Award and will no doubt make him one to watch in the future. No rider is going to be successful at Rampage without a skilled and hardworking dig team. Jaxson Riddle's team of Joel Shockley and Samuel Mercado were also awarded the Digger Award.
Veteran Cam Zink got the Toughness Award after a small crash on his first run and returning to complete his second run despite having one of the most high risk lines on the mountain.
Rounding up the awards was Brage Vestavik who won the McGazza Spirit Award. Vestavik, who cemented himself as a big name in freeride after his Real MTB 2021 edit for World of X Games, unfortunately wasn't able to compete after a big crash in practice.