After a a few days of sitting the most progressive artificial freeride course in the world, it was time for 10 of the best freeriders in the world to follow the course of their main event competition takes place at Red Bull Imagination. As tension mounted among the riders and anticipation among the spectators, the general mood of the event continued throughout the day of competition. The camaraderie of the riders among themselves and the energy created from the week leading up to the competition created a pleasant atmosphere and fostered a high standard of riding.
As the crowd poured into the stands, the riders began to dress up and visualize their three-minute contest races for the last time. Although freeriding is not just about competition, the three days “expression sessionculminated, so find out who ended up on the podium at the end of the day.
For Red Bull Imagination’s competition format, each rider had two runs. Once the runners have completed both races, the better of the two would be their overall score. For a possible perfect score of 100, judging would be based on magnitude, creativity, execution, and overall line choice throughout the run.
Julien Vanstippen put on a show for the crowd, despite a big crash during warming up it left him wondering if he would even roll over the sector. While most of his driving in his hometown of Belgium is on steel ramps, he adapted to the dirt very quickly.
Vanstippen started his run with a huge 130-foot backflip and had three more backflips to follow. As he made his way around the courses, he approached the end of his run with a big backhand whip for the crowd. Vanstippen said: “I haven’t done any dirt jumps (in Belgium), but all the jumps are so good here that it gave me confidence for the race.”
Visionary of Red Bull Imagination, Tyler Berman, entered the week with a compound fracture that sidelined him for a 12-week recovery. The week of the event was Bereman’s first time back on a bike since his injury. And in typical Bereman fashion, he not only rolled, but he absolutely blew the judges and the crowd away. “The doctor said it was 12 weeks before I could ride. Twelve weeks was yesterday,” Bereman said.
As he headed for the opening jump of his race, the crowd could see what he was lining up for – the biggest jump of the course. Not only was it the biggest jump at 180 feet long, but a jump that wasn’t even thought possible. during course construction. The wind picked up and Bereman proceeded with the 180-foot jump in third gear, giving him everything the bike had. As he cleared the line with ease, the crowd erupted as they knew this race was going to get good.
Bereman continued to follow through the rest of his run with several big rollover whips above the trees and the 140-foot pace. He left little to the “imagination” as he landed every major jump on the course. Even after his run was over, he continued to do a few more jumps for the crowd, jumps so big they rivaled those he had done during his three-minute run. According to Jason Weigant, Bereman was “a madman in his element.”
Freeriding and Red Bull Imagination is not just about competing and winning. Red Bull Imagination is advance the sport, impacting and challenging athletes to reach new heights together. As the driving force behind the event, Bereman hopes to project that not just onto the athletes, but the rest of the world as well.
Bereman told us: “To me, freeriding is not a competition. We all win competing and doing the race we wanted. In my eyes, we have already won.
Axel Hodges brought home the crown as Winner of the Red Bull Imagination in 2021, and was struggling to be able to repeat the win in 2022 given the incredibly talented roster of riders. However, taking inspiration from Bereman’s run, Hodges opened the run with the same 180-foot jump Bereman did, and added a footless box over it. It was clear to the crowd that Hodges was serious. Hodges headed for the container where he landed a huge backflip in front of the crowd, truly exercising all the “technical jib zone” had to offer on the course.
It wasn’t just the huge shots that gave Hodges the edge, his technical ability was near perfect. With tricks like grabbing the front fender and his huge freewheeling landing, Hodges left nothing on the table. He even used all the technical wooden structures in a single line in the wall route to the container section.
With more combo tricks and bigger jumps than any other driver, and his classic Hodges style with a flair like his peace with the crowd on one of the biggest whips, it was obvious who was the winner of Red Bull Imagination. On sections like the “Dumb and Dumber” jump section, Hodges would backflip to the Indian-air lines where most of the others were jumping straight. “I don’t think I’ve ever ridden that way in my life,” Hodges said, adding, “It’s tiring at the end of the three minutes, it’s a long three minutes.”
Hodges scored 98.00, and it was exciting to see Bereman as the first runner to congratulate him. The level of respect between Red Bull Imagination riders is unlike any other contest, which continues to elevate the sport to where it is today.
Kohl Denney opened the contest in his button-up shirt with a huge backflip on the moon booter – the steepest jump on the course. Let’s hope Denney returns to Red Bull Imagination in 2023 as his carefree style and creative lines amped up the crew all weekend.
Christian chest of drawers had some of the biggest whips and turn-ups in the contest, and rode his two runs to his full potential. Dresser was invited to the 2021 event and returned this year with even more skill and finesse on the course. When most riders passed their second run due to fear of the wind, Dresser took over out of sheer excitement. Dresser has been taken under his wing by some of the game’s greatest freeriders and is seen as one of the next to come in the sport.
Another runner who ran his two races was Guillem Navas, who showed more creativity in the bowl section than anyone on the course. As he made his way over some of the bigger jumps later in his run, it was nice to see someone using the smaller features to show off their technical skills. “I could stay here for a month,” Navas told us.
As the wind held, rather than separating their last two runs for competitive reasons, Hodges and Bereman decided to take their first scores and do their last run together in the true spirit of freeriding. Seeing the two riders feed off each other and think about the lines in real time was a fan favorite. As they gave some fans a high five, they headed up the fast home ramp for a celebratory burnout. The smoke billowed, the crowd got one last adrenaline rush and Red Bull Imagination 2022 ended as one of the most innovative contests in the world. freeride sport.
Congratulations to all the riders, and especially congratulations to the sport of freeride which has taken another big step in the right direction.