Friday in Chicago started with a parade for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks, and it seemed like most of the city came out to cheer on the team. The whole celebration has been a pretty big deal, and it’s been cool to be in town to see how psyched everyone is.
In contrast, the Red Bull Stomping Ground competitors were not particularly psyched on one of the classic characteristics of this great city: the wind. Gusting winds tore through the course intermittently throughout the day, frequently blowing the riders off of their line through the jumps.
Riders took to the course during the calm patches, but by the time the 4 p.m. start time rolled around, the winds were whipping fast enough to pull everyone off the course for safety concerns.
There was still plenty of riding going on, with Brett “Mad Dog” Banasiewicz working on his run, which included some gnarly frontflips down the step-down. Despite the fact that he’s still recovering from a mild shoulder separation, Drew Bezanson looked solid, spicing up his jump tricks with an icepick to barspin on the vert wall at the end of the course.
There’s a wide variety of styles represented on the rider list, so it’s just as likely to see a double tailwhip as it is to see an E.T. to x-up, which isn’t necessarily going to make the judges’ jobs any easier.
“I like seeing tricks, but for me, the trick needs to be done to its full extent,” says judge and legendary trail rider Mike Aitken. “A lot of people cram 90 tricks into a jump and don’t do them all well, so I’m definitely going to be judging on whether or not the tricks are done right.”
Qualifying starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and will determine the five riders who get to join the pre-qualified riders for the big show at 4 p.m. CT. Remember to check it out live at RedBullStompingGround.com. Check today's gallery here.