Yannick Granieri, Red Bull Rampage 2010 Qualifying Round Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photofiles

Back in 2001, the Red Bull Rampage concept was conceived to serve one of the fringes of the blossoming mountain-bike movement. There were riders -- courageous, driven and a little crazy -- who were at once exploring new terrain, testing their own limitations and defining a new genre of the sport, and their riding style was not represented at all in competition. Freeride mountain biking was rapidly evolving with every insane drop and first descent, and Red Bull Rampage was on board to help push it even harder.

The inaugural event was a landmark in the sport's history and was followed by three more through 2004. If you won Red Bull Rampage -- or even survived the weekend with all your bones intact -- your reputation as a bad ass on two wheels was unassailable. Unlike events with a defined course and familiar obstacles, Red Bull Rampage let the riders determine their own route down treacherous cliffs; the more creative and risky the line, the better the score.

After 2004, the event went on hiatus, but the memories -- and the reputation -- grew in scale. The mountain-bike contest scene did evolve to address the changes in the sport, but in general it still lagged behind what the most progressive riders were capable of. As contest riders began to get pigeonholed into separate disciplines -- downhill, slopestyle, dirt jumping -- it was the freeride ethos that leveled the playing field. You needed skills in every aspect to survive a true freeride run, and the time came once again to prove who had the balls to get it done.

 

Red Bull Rampage made its return in 2008 with yet another epic gathering of the best mountain bike riders in the world. Anyone who believed the sport couldn’t progress further would have eaten their words on that dusty ridge near Virgin, Utah. Man-made “enhancements” graced the venue for the first time, but the main objective remained: find the most challenging lines down the mountain and ride them with style. Regardless of their background, the riders were all equal at the top of the mountain; equal in the challenge they faced to get to the bottom of it.

The next event was held in 2010, punctuated by Cameron Zink’s jaw-dropping 360 off a 40-foot drop. Every time Red Bull Rampage takes place, individuals push themselves like never before, collectively progressing the sport to a new level. The time has come again: On October 5-7, 2012, mountain biking’s best will return to southern Utah to climb the next -- or the next few -- rungs of the ladder.

Athlete selection criteria has been announced, and the aim has been to collect the best of the best, the top riders in many disciplines who own the skills to survive in the desert.

Zink and Brandon Semenuk, the 2010 and 2008 champions, will automatically be placed into the October 7 final. The top 12 finalists from 2010 are pre-qualified, excused from competing in the October 5th qualifying battle. Invites to the qualifier will go out to the top 12 ranked riders from the FMB World Tour, as well as the top two finishers at the Chatel Mountain Style in France in July. Red Bull Rampage serves as the final stop on the 2012 FMB World Tour.

More details will be available soon; outside of the actual event dates, clear some space on your calendar on Saturday, December 8 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET to watch all of the best action from Red Bull Rampage on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series.

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