Templeton native’s motocross competition returns for second year
Axell Hodges soars to victory on freeride motocross’ biggest stage at Red Bull Imagination
– Red Bull Imagination, a freeride motocross competition out of the mind of Templeton native Tyler Bereman, had its second year on the books, and it far exceeded the expectations of riders, judges and spectators. The event, born from the mind of Bereman and brought to life by course designer Jason Baker of Dream Traxx, has continued to carve out a place in the pantheon of motocross events and advance the discipline of freeride motocross. Twelve of the sport’s top riders gathered in Fort Scott, Kansas for an unprecedented week of “expression sessions, massive features, and epic send-offs.”
The event kicked off with four days of session riding and ended with an unprecedented freeride competition. Coming to the finish, fan favorite Axell Hodges fired up the winning points to secure first place, but not before Colby Raha and Bereman gave him his money’s worth in pursuit of the podium. .
The level of riding demonstrated at Red Bull Imagination was truly next level, largely due to the breadth and scale of the bespoke course brought to the table. Heading into 2021, Baker and Bereman knew the stakes needed to be raised for the second year of Red Bull Imagination and they used their learnings from year one to redesign and expand the course in a way that really pushed the boundaries of what who is capable in freeride motocross. . The bespoke “playground” course debuted with expanded features and new concepts that moved away from the boundaries of “racing” and eliminated the start and finish line, allowing creative freedom total for runners.
Returning runners and first-time runners alike were impressed and baffled by the scale of the course. But the contest format has been set up to accommodate this, with four days of “session” reserved for riders to adapt and learn the unique sections before the contest. And despite initial unease from the course’s shock factor, the tone of the week quickly changed from “dipping a toe” to “full power dive.” Rookies and veterans alike were all smiles under their helmets as they ripped their bikes on and around the ultimate freeride playground.
The full list of runners who have taken the course is:
- Tyler Bereman, top freeride motocross rider and 10-time X Games medalist
- 2021 X Games Gold Medalist, Nine-Time X Games Overall Medalist Colby Raha
- 2021 X Games Gold Medalist, Nine-Time X Games Overall Medalist Axell Hodges
- Motocross jack-of-all-trades, generalist himself Ryan Sipes
- 2021 X Games Gold Medalist, 4-time X Games Medalist Tom Parsons
- Pro Supercross and Motocross star Cole Seely comes out of retirement (again)
- Vicki Golden, four-time X Games medalist and world record holder
- Darryn Durham, former AMA Supercross/Motocross rider
- Former AMA Supercross/Motocross rider and current freeride motocross rider Josh Hill
- Jimmy Hill, X Games medalist
- Former AMA Supercross/Motocross rider Billy Bear Carpenter
- Christian Dresser, 19, runner turned freerider
On competition day, runners had two five-minute windows to pitch and hit the visionary lines they had dreamed up all week. Runners were scored on breadth, creativity, execution, and the overall line they drew, and their single best score was tallied. John Basher and sports legends Jeremy ‘Twitch’ Stenberg, Robbie Maddison, Steve Haughelstine and Ronnie Faisst judged the contest from a tower overlooking the entire course.
Highlights of the rider’s early races included the Durham funbox and wallride before jumping over the moon booter, Jimmy Hill’s cheerful riding style and antics on the course, Parsons’ whips on the big dawgs and Golden seamlessly punching a superwoman. But it was Hodges, Raha and Bereman who led 1-2-3 after the first round with 93, 87 and 86 points respectively.
The stakes were high heading into the second round and it was this set that saw the athletes improve their craft even further, leaving viewers and judges virtually speechless. Each runner delivered at or above the level of their first race, matching or increasing their scores the second time around. In the race for the podium, it was Bereman, Raha and Hodges who fought to maintain their lead.
Bereman showed ease and perfection in smooth transfers in and out of each zone, using every inch of the course with a creative and technical approach. Not to be outdone, Raha responded to Hodges’ first round with two jaw-dropping opening shots that wowed the judges and showed off his aggressive style, skill and finesse on the course: he went all the way through. landing from the quarterpipe and landed a 120′ big dawg backflip off the quarterpipe.
But ultimately, it was Hodges’ technical prowess and huge jumps that sealed the final standings. In a line that ran through all three sections, Axell flew over the big dawgs and quarterpipe, rode a nose manual out of the funbox, and executed perfect whips and nac nacs with masterful precision. After the second set, Hodges had a winning score of 94, Raha a score of 92 and Bereman 86.
The three unique sections of the course are:
- Technical jib section – snowboard style jib section, featuring a 40ft container, funbox, wallride and hip that riders could hit in opposite directions at the same time.
- The Transfer Zone – Supercross-inspired transfer with skatepark vibes, giving riders a clean slate to express themselves on a myriad of line combos.
- Big Dawg section – moon booter, 140′ tree jump, step up and a quarterpipe with a side spine so riders can be more creative in this space, with options to use the landing in all directions.
The final scores for the event were as follows:
- Axel Hodges – 94.0
- Colby Raha – 92.0
- Tyler Berman – 86.0
- Josh Hill – 85.0
- Ryan Sipes – 84.0
- Cole Seely – 80.0
- Christian chest of drawers – 72.0
- Carpenter Billy Bear – 71.0
- Darryn Durham – 69.0
- Jimmy Hill – 64.0
- Tom Parson – 58.0
- Vicki Golden – 56.0
Red Bull Imagination is described by Bereman as “[a] massive work in progress. We’re learning as we go and we’re going to keep pushing freeride in the right direction, giving riders opportunities they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Viewers can now listen to the exclusive behind-the-scenes series on Red Bull Motorsports YouTube and Red Bull TV. For more information visit https://www.redbull.com/us-en/projects/imagination