James Doerfling, Day 1 practice at Red Bull Rampage 2010 Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photofiles

The highly anticipated return of Red Bull Rampage is upon us, with the competitors taking to the course on Tuesday to inspect the pre-built obstacles and add their own unique flair via their own custom-built lines.

Red Bull Rampage, freeride mountain biking’s most progressive event, is once again gracing the one-of-a-kind landscape in Southwestern Utah, taking place on a series of three ridges in an inspiring - albeit punishing - setting.

Competitors kicked off three consecutive days of course inspection, building and practice today, leading up to Friday’s Qualifier, when 23 riders will vie for 10 transfer spots into Sunday’s Final, where they’ll join 12 pre-qualified riders. The pre-qualified riders come from the top 15 results from the 2008 event, the last time Red Bull Rampage took place, minus three competitors sidelined with injuries, including ’08 champ Brandon Semenuk from Canada.

“This place is amazing. It’s for sure different than any other place I’ve ridden." -Andreu Lacondeguy

The first Red Bull Rampage event was held in 2001 and quickly became the benchmark for freeride mountain bike competition, growing an immense fan base annually until going on hiatus after the ’04 event. After a worldwide search for a new venue proved that the Utah terrain was indeed unmatched, Red Bull Rampage returned in ’08 with huge success. The stage is now set for the 2010 event to be the best to date.

“We continued some of the concepts from ’08, making stuff bigger and cleaner with better transitions,” says Event Director Todd Barber. “We learned from some of the stuff that didn’t quite work as well as anticipated in ’08 – we just tweaked it and made it better.”

Returning for 2010 is the treacherous 60-foot canyon gap, this time with a steeper transition and step-up landing. “I think it should be more trickable this year,” Barber says. “In the past, the guys were just trying to get across it.” New this year is the Oakley Icon Sender (pictured below), a tricky drop chute which will send the riders 30 feet out and 40 feet down to the landing, characterized by a microscopic margin for error and massive consequences for not riding it spot-on. 

null Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photofiles

Several other wooden take-offs and huge dirt doubles are peppered throughout the course; it’s now up to the riders to decide which features they’ll utilize, as well as how they’ll get from one to the other. Each of the three ridges is topped with a start gate, two of which will be in play for the Qualifier. How each rider chooses to get to the finish line roughly 1,500 vertical feet below is completely up to them.

A thick top layer of dusty dirt and temps over 100 didn’t make for the best build conditions today, but that didn’t deter the riders one bit from getting down to business in an environment they’re uniquely familiar with. To the non-rider, watching them hurl pick-axes and shovels can be confusing at times, as there seems to be no way to connect the dots they’re creating on the course, poised to plunge down near-vertical faces of rock. Even if they don’t ride the full line before their actual contest run, however, there’s no doubt that their plan will see action.

The field of riders – returning competitors and rookies alike – represents many different styles, from hardcore freeriders and big-mountain legends to downhill racers and trick-heavy slopestyle contest regulars. Everyone will have their own approach, and they’ll be judged on things like style, fluidity and creativity. Although the field is heavily Canadian, seven countries and three continents are represented.

Hailing from Barcelona, Spain, Andreu Lacondeguy (pictured below) is making his first Red Bull Rampage appearance, riding for the first time in Utah. “This place is amazing,” he says. “It’s for sure different than any other place I’ve ridden, way different than anything back home.”

Regardless of how intimidating the terrain looks to most people, all the riders are ultimately out for progression and a lot of fun. “I’m just having a blast,” adds Lacondeguy, “and I think that’s what counts.” 

null Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photofiles

Red Bull Rampage 2010 Competitors
Qualifying (10 move on to the Final)
Ryan Berrecloth (Canada)
Logan Binggeli (USA)
Garett Buehler (Canada)
James Doerfling (Canada)
Antoine Dubourgnon (France)
Jamie Goldman (USA)
Yannick Granieri (France)
Casey Groves (Canada)
Geoff Gulevich (Canada)
Andreu Lacondeguy (Spain)
Tyler McCaul (USA)
Kelly McGarry (New Zealand)
Mike Montgomery (USA)
Kyle Norbraten (Canada)
Alex Prochazka (Canada)
Steve Romaniuk (Canada)
Curtis Robinson (Canada)
Evan Schwartz (Canada)
Kenny Smith (Canada)
Andrew Taylor (USA)
Chris Van Dine (USA)
Greg Watts (USA)
Wil White (USA)

Pre-Qualified
Graham Agassiz (Canada)
Gee Atherton (United Kingdom)
Darren Berrecloth (Canada)
Robbie Bourdon (Canada)
Cedric Gracia (France)
Mike Hopkins (Canada)
Mike Kinrade (Canada)
Michal Marosi (Czech Republic)
Kurt Sorge (Canada)
Kyle Strait (USA)
Thomas Vanderham (Canada)
Cameron Zink (USA)
[Pre-qualified riders Brandon Semenuk, Cam McCaul and Paul Basagoitia withdrew prior to the event due to injury]

For more, check out the Day 1 photo gallery.


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