Photos By Anthony Smith and Morgan Meredith
Words By Brice Minnigh
First day of class--the world's best freeriders know to pay attention when Rampage organizer Todd Barber delivers his dissertations.
All Quiet on the Western Ridgeline: This is where riders' dreams and nightmares will become reality.
Red Bull Rampage volunteers do the heavy lifting for the riders, hauling their bikes up to the top of the towering mesas.
Brandon Semenuk has his own staff of energetic builders, but that doesn't stop him from getting right into the mix.
Kenny Smith recounts his real-life skydiving exploits--which he used as mental preparation for Rampage. Minutes later, Smith crashed violently, ended a stellar run and his realistic hopes for the finals.
Garett Buehler put together a solid first run, but his score didn't hold through the second round.
Breaker, breaker, Red Bull Chopper One: Got your ears on? Do you copy?
Andrew Shandro isn't quite yet Over the Hill....
Red Bull Joyride winner, 19-year-old Thomas Genon, quickly quelled all speculation that he is only a slopestyle specialist. Here, he waves to spectators after charging a steep, narrow spine with absolute confidence. "I normally don't ride freeride, but I know how to ride a bike," he told us after his first run.
"I don't want no scrub; a scrub is a guy who don't get no love...." Belgian jack-of-all-trades Nico Vink keeps well clear of the scrub, but gives the lips and the landings loads of love.
San Diego's 18-year-old Wil White thinks wooden features have no place in a big-mountain contest--but that didn't stop him from hitting the Oakley Sender. White, who placed 13th in qualifiers, might still advance to Sunday's finals if one of the handful of injured qualified riders decides to bow out.
Mike Hopkins' run showed considerable promise after he landed this drop, but a miscalculation of speed caused him to overshoot the landing on the next massive jump, landing to flat and leaving a meteor crater in his wake.
Slopestyle standout Anthony Messere's first foray into the big-mountain arena was a frustrating one, with crashes in both of his runs ending his hopes of making the finals.
Volunteers carry Sam Pilgrim's bike off the mountain after he tacoed his front wheel and went over the bars. He later tweeted, @sampilgrim, "I hate Rampage. It was super windy and I crashed so hard. I bent my front wheel and didn't even qualify! Not stoked...."
With qualifiers over, all energy is now being focused on refining lines for Sunday's Rampage finals. The pre-qualified Brandon Semenuk shows that his 'genius' is not always 'delicate.'