By: Kevin Rouse
After a one-year hiatus, the 2010 Red Bull Rampage returns to Virgin, Utah, for another weekend of legendary freeriding. Running October 1-3, this year's event promises more riders, more spectators, more action and presumably some of the most exciting riding of the year.
Rampage event director, Todd Barber is enthusiastic about this year's new course features, citing "Larger, more diverse features that should really open things up for the riders." Come October, the cliffs and ridges near Zion National Park will serve as a fresh canvas for some of the world's most audacious big-mountain, slopestyle, and dirt jump riders. This year they are tasked with a 1000-foot descent, using only their artistic license to get them from the starting gate to the finish line. Along the way they'll face some of mountain biking's most challenging natural terrain, man-made slopestyle features and the return of the infamous 60-foot Canyon Gap jump.
These features add up to create "the Super Bowl of freeride mountain biking," says Barber. In a sense, it actually is, as this year's Rampage also serves as the FBM World Tour Finals. The result of the Rampage will help determine who wins the $25,000 prize purse.
Tackling terrain that is much better suited for ropes and carabiners requires an unsoundness of mind that only few possess, and coincidentally, is what riders like teenage Brandon Semenuk live for. Semenuk, the 2008 overall winner, will be joined by best trick winner Thomas Vanderham as they defend their titles in October.
The return of the big guns from 2008 is met with the invitation of 25 up-and-coming riders who will test their mettle against the best names in the business.
New for this year is the addition of a qualifying day on Friday, where the 25 riders will vie for 10 qualifying spots in Sunday's final. Upon reaching the final, they'll face the top 15 finalists from the 2008 event, where the best of two runs will decide this year's winner. Riders will be scored on style, amplitude, fluidity, and difficulty of line by an international panel of judges.
The Rampage promises to be much more spectator-friendly this year with the addition of a dedicated camping site and food and drinks available for purchase. However, the number of spectators, while higher than 2008, will still be strictly limited. Spectators who wish to attend must go through a free pre-registration process online, beginning in early August. Don't fret if you can't make it out to Utah though, this year the event finals will be webcast live. For more information, visit redbullusa.com/rampage.