Words by Brice Minnigh
Photos by Anthony Smith
The Red Bull Rampage 2014 took freeride fans on its usual roller coaster of exhilarating highs and dramatic lows, as the world's most capable big-mountain riders duked it out on fresh lines at a brand-new venue. As is the case each and every year, the progression bar was once again raised, with massive moves attempted on an unprecedented scale. But enough nouns and verbs: Here are photos and captions of some of the day's highlights:
Spanish standout Andreu Lacondeguy, always a contender for top Rampage honors, finally broke the fourth-place curse this year, winning by a sizeable margin after slaying a highly ambitious line down one of the steepest sections of the mountain. After finishing fourth in each of the last three Rampages, Lacondeguy had stated emphatically that this year he had his sights set squarely on the top of the podium—and he rode his line with the speed, style and determination to get there.
Following weeks of speculation over whether Tom Van Steenbergen would attempt one of his signature front flips over one of the venue's biggest features—the 73-foot canyon gap—he answered this question on his first run, throwing a fronty with a slight under-rotation that led to a violent crash. After a few minutes on the ground, though, he was able to walk away from the landing site. Despite the unsuccessful attempt, Steenbergen's skill and progressive drive were evident, and it will be interesting to see what he pulls off in future Rampages.
To many observers, Brendan Fairclough's line looked downright impossible, seemingly defying the laws of physics. But to Brendog, it clearly made perfect sense, as he easily gapped two consecutive canyons with style and linked together a seamless second run that earned him eighth place.
As the first rider in Monday's finals to hit the canyon gap, first-time Rampage contestant Jeff Herbertson set the tone by landing a massive backflip. He repeated the feat on his second run and secured a solid seventh-place finish in his debut Rampage effort.
Not to be outdone, Polish phenom Szymon Godziek followed Herbertson's flip with another one, landing it as smoothly as he did during his first attempt in the qualifiers.
Crowd-pleaser Kyle Norbraten spun a picture-perfect 360-degree drop toward the end of his line, sending the crowd into a frenzy and sealing up a sixth-place finish.
Cam Zink comes to Rampage each year for only one reason—to win—and he always picks some of the most daunting features to showcase his abilities. This 360 drop was one of the most anticipated moves of the day, and he stuck it clean on both of his runs, earning him a second-place finish and the Best Trick award.
Few fans were surprised to see Andreu Lacondeguy nail the same line that Graham Agassiz had stomped in the previous day's qualifiers, greasing the two giant stepdowns with ease in one of the fastest runs of the contest and cementing his victory.
Rampage veteran Geoff Gulevich is always a stellar performer, linking up crowd-pleasing runs filled with stylish backflips and tables. Fans will look forward to more of this from him next year.
Defending Rampage champion Kyle Strait did everything he could to defend his 2013 title, including this giant no-hander on one of the venue's biggest stepdowns, locking in a fourth-place finish and a ticket straight into next year's finals.
Another former Rampage champion, Brandon Semenuk, pulled off two clean runs today filled with tricks like this can-can backflip, securing the third spot on the podium and the FMB Diamond Series Championship.
The 2014 Rampage champion, Andreu Lacondeguy, didn't have to sit in the hot seat for long. With only three riders following him, his victory was virtually sewn up as soon as he sat down.
Lacondeguy is known for his frenetic energy, both on and off the bike. And judging from the exuberance he showed upon winning, he's going to have one hell of a big night out.
1. Andreu Lacondeguy 95.25
2. Cam Zink 89.50
3. Brandon Semenuk 89.25
4. Kyle Strait 89.00
5. Brett Rheeder 88.50
6. Kyle Norbraten 82.75
7. Jeff Herbertson 82.50
8. Brendan Fairclough 77.25
9. Paul Basagoitia 76.50
10. Mitch Chubey 76.25
11. Szymon Godziek 76.00
12. Kelly McGarry 73.25
13. Thomas Genon 71.50
14. Louis Reboul 70.75
15. Carson Storch 69.25
16. Pierre Edouard Ferry 67.50
17. Geoff Gulevich 66.00
18. Ramon Hunziker 37.75
19. Tom Van Steenbergen 35.00
20. Mike Montgomery 24.00
More from Red Bull Rampage 2014:
Gallery: Red Bull Rampage qualifiers storm ahead
Gallery: Red Bull Rampage qualifiers almost in the books
Videos: Rampage qualifier highlights