Winds stop the Rampage: 2nd round canceled after gusts raise safety concerns

ST. GEORGE — What started out as a sunny, warm Friday at the Red Bull Rampage extreme mountain biking event in Virgin, ended with potentially dangerous winds preventing the athletes from taking their second runs.

The course of the Red Bull Rampage offers unique challenges to competitors Virgin, Utah, Oct 21, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

The 16th edition of the Rampage brought together 16 of the world’s best extreme mountain biking athletes. The contest consists of two runs down the side of a mountain within the desert with falls and jumps consisting of up to 50-plus feet. It is a “freestyle” tricks contest, so the athletes have the opportunity to perform tricks of their choice on jumps while racing down the side of the mountain to gain points.

The annual Red Bull Rampage is staged just outside the town of Virgin, which is on the way to Zion’s National Park, just before Springdale on state Route 9.

The start of the first round was bumped up a half-hour to 10:30 a.m. due to a high wind warning issued for the afternoon. The gusts increased and by 2 p.m. caused the competition to end early.

Fans yelled for more action, but they left with moans and groans when the cancelation of the second round was announced by ESPN anchors Selema Masekela, Tina Dixon and freeride mountain biking legend Cam McCaul.

Based on the first-round scores, Canada’s Brett Rheeder took home the first-place hardware with a score of 90.66. The other two joining him on the podium were Poland’s Szymon Godziek (86.33) and Canada’s Brandon Semenuk (84.00).

Semenuk was last year’s winner and has claimed four titles for Red Bull’s Rampage.

“We spent the last eight days building our line… We put everything we had into it… The line allowed me to really push my riding… and it all worked out,” 29-year-old Rheeder said. “I am super happy it worked out.”

Local St. George freestyle m0untain biker 20-year-old Jaxson Riddle finished ninth with a score of 67.00. Even though he didn’t make the podium, he still secured some hardware as he was named the recipient of the Michelin Best Style Award.

“It went amazing for me,” Riddle said. “My first run went as I planned it, but unfortunately, we had some wind occur, so hopefully next year. I am going home happy and healthy. It couldn’t be better.”

Jaxson Riddle’s mother, Lindsay Riddle, described how he had always been into “extreme” sports and loved it. As for his style, she said he definitely has style.

Local mountain biking professional Jaxson Riddle after his first run during the Red Bull Rampage, Virgin, Utah, Oct 21, 2022 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

Other awards were given out, and the recipients are as follows:

  • ‘Kelly McGarry Spirit Award’ – Tom Van Steenbergen, Canada
  • Kia Digger Award – Brett Rheeder’s team, Canada
  • BF Goodrich Toughness Award – Cam Zink, United States
  • Utah Sports Commission Best Trick Award – Brandon Semenuk, Canada

Of all 16 riders, all made it down safely, with one who did not fully complete the last two hills on his run.

However, there were scheduled to be 18 riders for the event, with Alex Volokhov pulling out at the last minute. The other rider was one of the favored to win the event, Kyle Strait of the U.S. Unfortunately, during practice on Thursday, he crashed and ended up having surgery.

Corporate sponsor T-Mobile provided the 5G coverage and teamed up with DroneUp, which provided delivery for athletes by drone. This included drinks, food and more. Also, drones valued at $65,000 each helped provide event coverage, current measurements, data and feed. These were firsts for the competition and helped heighten the event to a new level, according to Red Bull representatives.

The event pulled in hundreds of attendees from Utah and as far away as Michigan. Attendees were shuttled in by tour vehicles up into the desert landscape.

The event was broadcast on ESPN+ in the United States and on Red Bull TV in the rest of the countries. On Oct. 30, viewers can tune in to a cropped-down two-and-a-half-hour replay beginning at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

Click here for more information on the Red Bull Rampage, including results.

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