Fans of freeride mountain biking should probably stay home this Sunday, Oct. 13, the better to watch the webcast of the annual Red Bull Rampage — the final major stop on the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour and one of the most anticipated events of the year.
While the riders are the same as many other freeride contests, like Red Bull Joyride during Crankworx or the Bearclaw Invitation at Mount Washington, the Rampage is a little different. If you compare mountain biking to the sports of skiing or snowboarding then an event like Joyride is kind of like the X Games slopestyle competitions, while the Rampage is more like a big mountain skiing competition on the Freeride World Tour.
The venue is a steep hill — practically a cliff — in Virgin, Utah. There are a handful of built stunts on the hillside, with riders using natural features to ratchet up the level of difficulty. Athletes are welcome to throw tricks in where they can, but the real spectacle is a rider’s choice of cliff drops and white-knuckle descents into steep chutes filled with sand and rocks.
Canada is well-represented at the event. Whistler’s Brandon Semenuk, winner of Red Bull Joyride, will be competing. The overall FMB World Tour title is not on the line for him this year after he opted out of the tour to focus more on filming between major events. So far this year he’s placed second at X Games Munich, first at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, first at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler and first at the Bearclaw Invitational.
Other Canadian riders in the lineup, all of them from B.C., include: Graham Aggasiz of Kamloops, Darren Berrecloth from Coombs, Garett Buehler of Nelson, James Doerfling of Williams Lake, Geoff Gulevich of North Vancouver, Mike Hopkins of Rossland, Brendan Howey of Tsawwassen , Mike Kinrade of Nelson, Mark Matthews of North Vancouver (regular Whistler rider), Kyle Norbraten of Prince George, Kenny Smith of Prince George, Tom van Steenbergen of Kelowna and Thomas Vanderham of the North Shore.
If that seems like a lot of Canucks, that’s because it is — Canadians are by far the largest group at an event that includes riders from the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Russia and Belgium.
The live broadcast is on Red Bull TV (http://live.redbull.tv/events/202/red-bull-rampage-2013/), getting underway at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.