How to Make Everyone Happy with Rampage 35

Is there a Rampage format that feels like it has level judging criteria, while still producing a creative, well-run and brain-exploding event?

How to Make Everyone Happy with Rampage

Oh,neat. Another Rampage opinion piece. Yep, it's true, but do you know what it means? It means Red Bull Rampage is important. It means Red Bull Rampage has a massive value to our MTB community. It means people get so amped up over incredible bike riding, that they're willing to spout about it for days after the event, and it's because Rampage has something World Cup downhill racing doesn't have; subjectivity.

Speculating and hypothesizing about race performances on a World Cup weekend prior to the clock cementing in results is fun, but once those results are etched into the record books, there's not a lot to talk about. Sure, we may say, "Loic blew it here," or "what if Gwin didn't flat," but the clock don't lie and we can't complain that the clock liked Loic better than Gwin. Rampage results, however, are 100% pure human opinion, and that makes it the best and the worst all at the same time.

I think the Top 3 at Rampage this year were right on. Outside of that, does it even matter? Hell, Stik even asked in the comments why we didn't mention Tom Van Steenbergen's Best Trick result in the photo wrap-up from finals. Welp, we kinda forgot. The Top 3 at Rampage are important and truly, super serious, for reals, it's only the winner that really matters. If the chosen winner is accurate, the rest of the judging is basically immaterial. Now, the riders risking their necks and barfing their bodies off behemoth-sized cliffs would probably beg to differ, but from a general audience point of view, getting the winner right is the only thing that can't be screwed up at Rampage. This year, the winner chosen by the judges was Brett Rheeder, and they were right.

 

If you've read the other post I made about judging frustration, don't worry, we're not going there again. There were a lot of interesting and in-depth proposals to help with the Rampage problems and it got me thinking more seriously about the topic. The reason? As noted in that earlier post, I love the judges. I know a lot of them personally or as an acquaintance thanks to some past experiences together. Some I've never met, but I know that the people crammed into that (hot) box each possess the freeride MTB equivalent of a Ph.D from Harvard. Comments like "those judges are stupid," or "those judges don't know shit,” break my heart because those judges actually do know everything there is to know about quantifying performances at Rampage, and I am always baffled that they accept the job of judge each year. It's a job with guaranteed crucifixion, no matter how the results work out, and this year was no different.

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Judges in a box😳

A post shared by Darren berrecloth (@dberrecloth) on

Judges in da box. I'd also like to express how much Claw killed it with his updates. We're bummed to not see you shredding out there, but your on-the-ground updates were fantastic! #allhailclaw

As I consider why they would accept a job like that, I realize that they're all mountain bikers to the core and they are diggers to the core. Not many people accept the job of digging jumps or trails, but plenty of people like to critique those jumps and trails. I guess it's no different and the judges should be revered and respected as highly as any trail builder.

 

The way things work now, 20 riders and their diggers are given carte blanche to build whatever they want on a nasty-ass piece of decaying red mountain. Due to time constraints, competitors and their dig crews often team up to get top-to-bottom lines finished while some go rogue and stay solo. Some riders focus on cliffs. Some focus on canyons. Some focus on tricks. Some focus on sketchy drop-ins. The entire period of trail building prior to contest day is one of the most entertaining aspects of Rampage. As we watch, there are more questions than answers about line choice, fear of death is a daily topic of conversation and rider creativity is celebrated throughout this time despite nary a knob hitting the dirt.

Thanks to social media and skeletal reporting from the venue, we already had biases about which line really encompasses the spirit of Rampage. Brendan Fairclough and his run featuring ‘The Rock’ was a social media favorite three days before competition. Massive drops for flips and 360’s rumored to be 70 feet tall were all the rage. Silva was talking about about double-flipping a drop! The judging began before the event did, and the flawed format of Rampage reared its ugly head when the first rider to successfully finish with a crash-free run got a measly score of 67. The rider was Brendan Fairclough and score said that a creative, unique line down the mountain meant nothing in the grand scheme of Rampage scores.

Adolf Silva, certifiably insane.

My buddies and I were texting and Skyping about the injustice, as I’m sure all of you were across the globe. While I don't believe Brendan had a winning run, a 67 was unjust and it seemed like the judging for the rest of the day was all to make sure Brendan stayed in the Top 10, ensuring an automatic invite to the 2019 Rampage. Brendog, frustrated with his first-run score, understandably, decided not to ride his second run, much to the disappointment of frothing spectators and webcast watchers.

Once #BrendanGate calmed down a bit and the contest found its rhythm, I realized there was no rhythm. The heart-pounding highs were almost immediately followed by a crash or some other crescendo-crushing episode that could be as simple as a blown traverse or a rider taking it easy*** because their first run was nailed and they didn’t want to re-risk their life again. I couldn't wait to see what rider X had planned, and often, rider X's plan was never seen through to completion. “Well, that was anticlimactic,” read a text I received as the event wrapped up. I, along with tens of thousands (?) of frothing fans just sat there for 5 hours and were kind of left with, “that’s it?”

 

To be left with “that’s it,” after over 60 people (not including Rampage staff diggers who moved mountains), dug their hearts out for nearly two weeks, is a travesty, and I think I’ve figured out why. Repeating myself for the 400th time, it’s not the judges’ fault. It’s the flaw of letting riders building their own lines and then celebrating their creativity and building efforts for days before the event. All for this creativity and effort to be seemingly disregarded as a piece of the judging criteria.

Aside from extreme free skiing events (which Rampage was modeled after), most credible competitive judged events showcase athlete performances on the same playing field. Slopestyle events, ice skating, gymnastics, skatepark, Megaramp, FMX, the U-Flume (the old kook’s way of describing the half pipe) - they all have a single, consistent work area in which every athlete is contained to create their free-form performances. Rampage, while having a defined arena, let’s the riders blindly try to determine what makes a winning playing field within the arena’s boundaries.

As per usual, in 2018, the highest scoring runs came down to the biggest tricks on the biggest cliffs, which were basically down the mountain’s fall line. There's nothing wrong with that and it's incredibly exciting to watch. But, what if, after marking his run on build day #1, Brendan was told by the judges, “hey B-spot, that line looks super rad, but it’s not going to score well because no drop is over 25 feet and it traverses the mountain too much. That chute is probably the most technical thing on the mountain to ride, but the approach into it is pretty slow.” Maybe Brendan would have just gone home or maybe he would have helped build on the 60 foot drops down the main zone and ridden there.

Brandon Semenuk

So, How Do We Fix Rampage?

Hiding scores until the end of the day has been suggested by many. While an easy solution, it’s not the right solution. Endless debate about corruption would go on for decades, the show would be confusing for viewers and riders may have to take unnecessary risks with an unnecessary second run.

It’s the digging and rider creativity that make Rampage such a unique spectacle. If that portion of the event is lost, why bother with Rampage at all? It’s also the most difficult piece of the equation to evaluate, so I propose that only 10 riders (and 5 injury alternates) be selected to compete and that only two lines are built on the mountain by these 15 riders, their digging crews AND the judges. The creativity, collaboration and effort of all involved is pooled together to make two diverse lines that showcase what makes Rampage the pinnacle of freeride; one insane “tech” line like Brendan’s with crazy natural features that require some a tip-toe-like riding skill and one baffling “drop” line like Silva’s or Lacondeguy’s or Nell’s or Storch's, that hauls ass and has massive drops and jumps. These two runs would include options so a rider could spin 30 feet or suicide 60 feet, they could go uber tech or sorta tech. The riders are still in control of how they interpret and execute a run, but pure terrain- and feature-specific judging elements are removed.

Each of the 10 riders gets two runs on each course and the best score from each course is added to a two-run total that determines the overall winner. Each course also has a highest-scoring rider who is awarded some kind of prize, too. Strategy decisions would have to be made by the competitors as it’s a battle of attrition with two runs scored. Some athletes would shine on the jumps, some would shine on the tech. The rider who shines most on both is the winner of Rampage.

Brendog

Using this format, we’re at 40 runs total (the same as the current format), so the event can run in a single day, we have the beauty of seeing the digging and build-up for a week, and we lay to rest the debate, “which style of Rampage is better?” because both styles of tech and air time are incorporated.

Now this may sound like it gives Rampage too much structure and freeriding should be, well, free. While true, a structure is in place, we’re always left with hate and debate when this event concludes and that needs to end.  We’re also not trying to kill anyone, force them (too far) out of their comfort zone or limit riding freedom. This structure is a happy compromise.

I want to believe that these talented and experienced riders could handle any of the runs built at Rampage this year, so this format should work. The athletes may not want to trade runs with each other, but I think they could. Brendan could huck the big lines with speed and Andreu could creep the tech. This would showcase the 10 best mountain bikers on the planet and they should be able to ride anything.

The Two Major Problems with This Solution

1. Course degradation is the biggest problem with this structured concept. Sending 20 riders down a single line at Rampage may not even be possible. Could Brendan’s or Jordie’s or Rheeder’s lines handle more than two runs without significant maintenance? It's doubtful. Some of those berms shared by a handful of riders were completely exploded this year. This is a big hurdle to overcome and may make this entire, overly blabbing article completely meaningless.

2. The overall winner could be the most average rider of the day. Say Andreu punts and blasts the “drop” course, easily winning that line with a 95, but crashes both runs on the “tech” course walking away with a 22, totaling 117 points. Brendog does the opposite, crushing the tech course with a 94 and crashing on the “drop” course with a 30, totaling 124. Their overall scores fall short of rider X (we’re not gonna name names) who rode conservatively, surviving both courses with 65's and netting a 130 overall. Considering the caliber of riding at Rampage, however, I can’t imagine this would be a huge problem, but it could realistically happen and we may still be left with the dreaded “that’s it?” feeling at the end of the day. That may be something we can never avoid and the format mentioned above will still provide those heart-stopping, full-pull runs of amazement.

Andreu Lacondeguy

I wholeheartedly realize Red Bull has not announced an open call for Rampage improvement suggestions. As if they don't have 40 people thinking about this same issue. I'm a spectator and fan who has no insight into the inner-workings of an event that’s as logistically ludicrous as the 60-foot cliffs on display. I have always applauded the efforts of everyone involved that makes Rampage possible and continue to applaud those monumental efforts. Todd Barber is a madman for taking this on years ago and for choosing to do it throughout these 17 years. No matter what the results or the format, Rampage has defined our sport of mountain biking in a way we never thought possible and I hope it continues for 17 more years to come with plenty of debate and controversy. Thank you to all who make the event a huge success! -gordo

How would you improve Rampge? Holler in the comments.

***Having witnessed, in person, Red Bull Rampage three different years, I understand from experience that the term “taking it easy” doesn’t exist. The most tame, boring-looking run at the venue should be celebrated throughout the world as a feat akin to walking on the moon. In no way do I take any run at Rampage lightly.

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35 comments
  • stiingya

    11/5/2018 9:32 AM

    My opinion; DH WC, speed, smooth, etc. already have competitive venue's. Slope style, pure trick, flow, jump lines already have competitive venue's. If those riders want to compete at Rampage that's great, but SCORING at Rampage should be based on OG Rampage Freeride... Keep Rampage core, there are all kinds of set course competitions for other skill sets to be shown off.

    I do think there are a lot of great idea's that could help improve Rampage, and I hope they are listening. But I don't agree with limiting riders creativity, or "forcing" riders to agree on one creative line. The "free" in freeride, DUH... jkn

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  • ryan_daugherty

    10/31/2018 2:44 PM

    How about pay the riders and diggers well, make sure they're covered from an insurance perspective and then just let them ride and let them decide who the winner is. I have feeling if someone threw down hugely the vote would land on the right person. The dudes riding there are the ones that know what it takes better than anyone. I figure if they're all paid well then they'd likely vote proper too. Just hook up a bonus for the top 3 runs or something.

    I don't know, I just want to see them all get down safe and be well compensated.

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  • bizutch

    10/31/2018 9:12 AM

    Needs to be a game of KNOCKOUT. I just don't understand why they score the runs. Why not put the names on a board and as first rider comes down, he slots into 1st. From there, it's just a game of knockout. Next rider's run gets slotted above, below or between them. As a rider comes down, you've got top 3 runs on the board and all the judges have to do is decide if the next run is better than 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. At the end of round 1, riders run in reverse order of the board. For 2nd run, wipe the score board of ALL PLACEMENT EXCEPT Top 3. Then riders run in reverse order (worse run to 1st place) and the ONLY thing the judges have to do is decide if the 2nd runs bump anyone out of 1, 2 or 3 slot.

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  • LookinForIt

    10/31/2018 9:08 AM

    I would like to see them stick with the format they have now, but the digging be done differently
    I would propose that the riders should be allowed more time to dig and maybe even slightly larger teams, and there should be mandated "no build zones" where riders can pick away to make parts rideable, maybe make berms, but no lips or landings in that zone. This would force all the riders into some tech and all the runs would thus be easier to compare.

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  • bizutch

    10/31/2018 9:00 AM

    Anybody besides me bothered that the cover image of the above RedBull video is a mirror image and all Brendog's sponsor logos are unreadable because of it? ;- )

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  • Sven Martin

    10/31/2018 8:00 AM

    5 Judges all isolated from each other. I head judge (Who does not do actual scoring but makes sure judges get all the info they need in terms of replays, etc and is communicating judging criteria to judges and riders, basically making sure his judges can do the best job possible)
    Throw out high and low score, that way the final score is an averaged one of three judges. This takes out any bias both high or low from friends/countrymen etc (im not sure they may even do this already)
    Judges are named and their scoring is visible to all on the live feed and as mentioned before they judge in isolation and are not swayed or influenced by other judges - if issues or questions need to be raised that is what the head judge is for.
    Another good suggestion I heard was to not publish the scores until the END of round one. If there is enough time (break between run one and run two) this would be a good idea. Judges write down a score with notes even that feels right after the run while its fresh in their heads but then only put down a final score after a quick watch of relevant replays of each run. I feel this will result in a more accurate scoring and ranking. Problem with this is it may hinder the "live feed drama" - but in the same way it could add to the drama if presented correctly.

    No easy simple solution

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  • bizutch

    10/31/2018 9:06 AM

    I just don't understand why they score the runs. Why not put the names on a board and as first rider comes down, he slots into 1st. From there, it's just a game of knockout. Next rider's run gets slotted above, below or between them. As a rider comes down, you've got top 3 runs on the board and all the judges have to do is decide if the next run is better than 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. At the end of round 1, riders run in reverse order of the board. For 2nd run, wipe the score board of ALL PLACEMENT EXCEPT Top 3. Then riders run in reverse order (worse run to 1st place) and the ONLY thing the judges have to do is decide if the 2nd runs bump anyone out of 1, 2 or 3 slot.

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  • millsr4

    10/30/2018 9:14 PM

    Sorry, I totally disagree with your format... but I love the idea of giving the riders a heads up of what their line would score ahead of time. Especially if this is done early on to give them the opportunity to change things up if need be. Also, I think letting them submit what tricks they want to do on what features ahead of time and then give them a maximum possible score prior to the event could help even the playing field and let the riders better manage the risks they are taking.

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  • cloudy

    10/30/2018 5:58 PM

    Late to the party, but I agree with the rest of the world, brendog was clearly robbed and the top 3 seemed right. There is always room to improve and trying to make the judging better is definitely something I agree with, but blowing up the current format because we all thought one run was better, but not actually podium better seems like quite an overreaction. This year was an anticlimactic end for sure, but sometimes Martin maes puts down a heater early in the day, the super bowl is a blowout, or the golden state warriors exist. Remember how exciting joyride was this year, and wait and hopefully next year zink, sorch, semenuk and other dudes make it down and challenge. This general format has been around the whole time and given us zinks 3s and flips, mcgazzas backflip, super t’s insane drop and tons of other wild stuff, it seems to work fine for bringing the best out of folks. Subjective judging is always going to kinda suck, but I think the judging at rampage has generally improved. I admit at various times zink, norbs, strait, gracia, Bizet, and others have gotten robbed, but almost all have shown up the next year still pushing hard and going huge.

    As someone else said, I love seeing what people choose to build and ride. Even if I bitch like everyone else, I would rather there be judging controversy but super cool creative stuff (the rock, open loop, etc) that I get to see in so many runs than a set course. The broadcast did drag, but figure out how to get it so people can drop quickly rather than a 4 minute video and 2 color coded map of the line between runs. Judging is tough, and no other sport to my knowledge has actually figured it out, so at least we’re in the same boat as the rest of them haha. Amazed at the riding everyone did, and very glad everyone made it out without major injuries.

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  • Jonzilla

    10/30/2018 2:26 AM

    I also think this years judging was on point, apart from B'dawg
    all day Jam format,
    if a rider puts a perfect first run an want.s to call it then fine, if a rider want's to try again and again. As long they haven't beat themselves to shit then great. With weather conditions sometimes being a factor this could be an advantage too.
    Only problem is, the spectators all around the world would lose the 'Live comp' feeling...... when watching live or an edited high lights show
    One thing though, with the helmet cam tech we have now.. judges and spectators could see the riders eye view with the swap of a memory card at the finish line. I realy think helmet cam footage could take some of the 'He got robbed' factor away but, B'dawg definatly got robbed

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  • Ben_Eggleston

    10/29/2018 1:53 PM

    What if?

    Rampage could be viewed to be more valuable as a whole rather than breaking it down into judging and results? What if more Mountain Bikers watched it just to enjoy it as an overall spectacle? What if we were a little more self aware of how other sports fans view Rampage? We could hold a little more value to the event that makes big wave surfers and FMX pros say " Mountain Biking is f*cking awesome!"

    I could honestly give a sh*t who wins or what step others might be on the podium. Whether I agree with the judges, the line choices, the post show commentators is immaterial. That's not the part of Rampage that I'm paying attention to.

    I like to watch it every year because it's f*cking cool.....Every year it delivers!

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  • Metacomet

    10/30/2018 7:44 AM

    I agree announcing a winner is kind of immaterial for the core fans, and I myself am really just most excited to watch the guys ride their creations and be stoked on their runs. The winning runs are also not always the ones that go down in history. If I think back, I can't picture in my mind a full winning run, but I remember the uniques lines and standout tricks between many of the riders. Those images and those crazy moments are what you take away from the event each year.
    But I also feel like we have to come to terms with the fact that the whole event is made possible purely because it is a competition. Otherwise it would turn into an annual film project with far fewer athletes and less ambitious builds and riding. The incentive to the riders would be really diminished as the event would no longer have the career-catapult recognition ability that it does now. Careers are made from this event, not just prize winnings. Without the competition aspect, there would also be no set structure for televising it live. It has to be time-boxed for live streaming. The marketability of a competition is also what makes this a profitable endeavor for Redbull. You lose the sponsor, you lose the event. You'd still have freeriding, but you would no longer have rampage. The event is completely unique in the world as far as I am aware, and it would be better to find a format as similar to the current one as possible, that focuses on and enhances the things that make it great and attracts both the riders and the viewers.

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  • toast2266

    10/29/2018 1:43 PM

    Taking away (most of) the riders' creativity and vision in putting together the lines would ruin everything that's awesome about Rampage.

    At the end of the day, I don't really care who won or who should have one. I'm just there to watch a bunch of guys throw down. And they did that. Every single one of them.

    "Are you not entertained?" -Autistic guy from A Beautiful Mind

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  • Metacomet

    10/29/2018 12:45 PM

    I really really really do not like the idea of constricting the individual rider/builder creativity. If I think back over the years about what things were the most disappointing with Rampage, most of it comes down to the judging, practice time, and all the unfinished business. The recurring themes that are always emerging are the following:

    Grandiose Problem: The judging seems completely out of context when there is no baseline established. The riders have no idea what they are up against with their lines, and the judges are starting from 0 and playing the conservative game until the first, and sometimes even as the second runs are being completed.
    Grandiose Answer: During the build period, and again once the lines are finalized, the judges should be establishing the baseline score for each of the runs on the mountain. Boots on the ground, they are looking at and walking the lines and determining the point value for just riding each of the lines. This gives the judges a chance to look at everything holistically and communicate to the riders the baseline points for their lines. If they trick features or completely flow everything at warp speed, depending on the trick and the feature performed on or the speed they did it with, it adds value above the expectations of a completed run in accordance with their baseline.
    This also gives the judges the chance to really reward a crazy unique and technical line that is sketchy as hell to just ride, and also appropriately reward a completely independent build. The more manicured and collaborative flow-style jump lines could have an appropriately low baseline score and require some next level tricks everywhere to get near the top.
    This would really level the playing field between the different styles, and the riders would know what they are up against and if they have a genuinely competitive line or not. They could also communicate this to the viewers ahead of time in the preshows, and as the riders are dropping in for their runs so the viewers have some idea what the hell the riders are being judged on.
    The judges, along with some key other non-biased outsiders like previous riders such as Tippie and Berrecloth are the ones who come up with the agreed upon baseline scores for the lines.

    Problem: So much unfinished business. Every year. I Cannot stand when a rider isn't able to put down a full run because they are putting it all on the line on their first drop and inevitably they blow something up.
    Answer: Why not give the riders three runs, and let them submit their best for judging? If they are completing runs, they will already know they met their baseline score or better, and the viewers will know this too. If they believe they can improve their score as they see the other riders executing their runs, then they will drop again and try to do a better run and remain competitive as they could kind of gauge the runs from the other riders. This would add a lot of suspense for the viewer, and encourage riders to take their second and third runs if they are really in the running for a winning score. And for the others they would still know they are good with what they've done. Three would be ideal and give all riders the best chance of getting at least getting a score on the board with a complete run.
    Letting the riders choose just one run to submit, would also take the pressure off the judges as it would all be finalized at the end of the event once all of the submissions were in and they have the full context of all the submissions. A lot less pressure on the judges, and a lot less pressure on the riders with more of a climax at the end. Show the replays of the submissions during the award ceremony and then reveal the winner. Would be thoroughly fair, and would feel more like a fest series type rider session where they each get to put their best foot forward, showcase their abilities, and not feel like they are being undervalued because the criteria wasn't clear, or due to judges under immense pressure and without the required context to make a fair assessment on the spot.

    Problem: Not enough time to practice and rest.
    Answer: An additional practice day, followed by a rest day prior to the event. Riders are guaranteed a practice run and get their baseline scores finalized. Then they let their bodies rest for a day. Everyone then clearly knows what they are up against and what they might need to do to win and can form a gameplan.
    Seriously. for everyone's safety. This should not be so rushed

    Problem: Wind and weather f'ing their runs.
    Answer: If all else fails and they can't put a successful run down due to wind, they can fall back on and submit their completed practice run for the baseline score. Maybe with a deduction if its due to crashes in all of their finals runs? Not a perfect idea, but considerably better than the current practice

    I think it really comes down to the viewers and the riders all wanting to see the guys get to do their full runs, get scored fairly and logically, survive, all of the creative and mind bending awe inspiring riding on full display, and a "winner" to emerge in the end on top of a sensible leaderboard.

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  • Metacomet

    10/29/2018 12:57 PM

    Another aspect I have thought about is opening up each of the riders lines for anyone. This would be incredible. Not sure exactly if it should be done on finals day only, or during practice. Or at all. But I am intrigued by the idea.
    If you take the format with the baseline scores, and someone stomped their own line and maxed it out but felt they could do better on another line with a higher baseline score in order to go for the win? That would be Crazy exciting and add an additional layer of spontaneity.
    The rider would have to be crazy motivated to attempt something like that on an unfamiliar line, and I cant see it happening often at all until their last drop, but it would at least be out there as an option.

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  • sino428

    10/29/2018 1:20 PM

    I just think there will always be some issues with the event. With so many variables its never going to be perfect and some problems just can't be solved. Like even your baseline score idea sounds good on the surface but how would it work in real life? It takes days of digging before you can even begin to visualize what a riders run will look like (especially at a new venue). By time the judges would even be able to start establishing a baseline score the riders would likely be way to far into their builds to make wholesale changes anyway.

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  • MPH24

    10/29/2018 2:29 PM

    Establishing the "Line Score" prior to the riding is the best idea I've heard (Don't they do this with diving?)

    This does two things:
    1) You could have a "Best Dig" award for the highest line score with prize money that goes to the Rider's dig crew, who clearly put in so much work to make Rampage happen. Additionally with the broadcast, you can highlight the dig team and that process more (plus this gives them content for down time during the live feed).

    2) This brings the start to much needed detail to the scoring; 25 points for Line, 25 for tricks, fluidity, and speed. To spommer's point, the judges definitely know their stuff and love the sport so some more detail would allow us and them to explain their thoughts more.

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  • sino428

    10/30/2018 10:11 AM

    But won't riders then just complain about their line score if it isn't high enough? All your really doing is giving the riders something to get pissed off about in advance. If the riders were able to make changes based of input from the judges it could work, but I just don't think there is ample time to make big changes once the line has been created.

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  • Metacomet

    10/30/2018 10:57 AM

    I honestly don't think the riders would be griping about their lines scores so much, especially when they are all scored next to each-other. There just wouldn't be much to argue against if it was a consensus among their peers. Also remember that not all the riders are looking to kill themselves for the big W, and will make a line they are both comfortable riding and proud of. But now they will know what they are up against from the onset. I think it would be more inspiring than anything else.
    As far as making changes real-time is concerned, I think it could be very achievable. When the venue is announced, and in the initial rider meeting before the riders commit to their lines, the venue is already broken down into "zones". The panel informs the riders and diggers of the judging criteria, as well as some rough estimate point value ranges for lines/feature in each of the different zones due to some obvious features. This would be enough for the guys to have a direction they are comfortable with to begin digging, based on what they want out of the comp. They are already doing this to a very large degree but there is zero transparency currently.
    Then they plan their lines, the judges get a look at it, and further refine the line score range a bit more. As the build progresses and they see the size of the landings, the narrowness of the trail itself etc, and how many diggers are involved, it gets refined again and again. Plenty of opportunity throughout the process for the riders to build a run with winning potential, as well as encouraging and rewarding unique and ambitious builds. Imagine one of those big sends to a sniper landing, vs the runway strips they are now. It might not even need to be nearly as tall to be rewarded similarly. If the rewards are there and understood, it will all be a lot less guesswork and encourage much more creative digging.
    Brendogs line was as wide as a freshcut singletrack, exposure and consequence galore, loose and narrow transitions, a f'ing huge canyon gap off a kicker that was as wide as a north shore skinny after coming out of a barely defined boulder filled singletrack, which then led directly into an off the wall chute to drop.

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  • lawn dart

    10/29/2018 11:42 AM

    If there are three (or four) main elements to the competition, make them all co-equal, and have a "tech" winner, a "drops" winner, and a tricks winner, with Brendan, Lacondeguy, and Rheeder winning each of these in 2018, for instance, then have the overall winner, Rheeder, who combines all three. Maybe a fourth category for speed or smoothness. It wouldn't change the current format that much, but it would elevate the components that contribute to their own unique status and offer riders that really epitomize one component (again, Fairclough), some official "win". Kind of like the sprinters and hill-climbers each get their own jersey in the Tour de France.

    Personally, I like the idea of the current, two-run format because it gives the riders the choice to opt-out after a crash or harrowing experience. Wind and weather always play a part, and I think it's a good idea to give the riders the option of going--or not going, if the wind isn't right. Discretion is the greater part of valor.

    As for trimming the herd, again, this should come from the riders: DJ Brandt may not have finished his run, but boy-oh-boy, that top chute and other features were worth seeing!

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  • T-Dawg

    10/29/2018 11:11 AM

    The problem I see with above proposal is: Brendawg, (or whoever) is still gonna feel like someone #GotRobbed - because scores will still come from a single panel of judges......And keep in mind -you’re never gonna keep everybody happy either because:
    1. the Freerider “purists” are gonna want to see who can straight air the most 60-90 ft drops.
    2. The DH WC race fans wanna see who can fly down the mountain in 30 seconds or less
    3. Slopestyle fans are gonna want to see who can Bike Flip 360 off the Oakley Icon Sender.
    -
    Really- they should just keep everything the same and broaden the judging pool. For example: have all the diggers be a panel of judges, and have all the online viewers be a panel of judges as well. (They already are polling viewers anyway). Then average the traditional judges scores with the diggers scores and online viewers scores for an average of all three. Who is really gonna be able to say someone got robbed with a format like that? Then everybody can still ride and build their own way. Plus I think the online viewership would go from 20k to 40k

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  • sino428

    10/29/2018 12:12 PM

    Having viewers at home judge would be a bad idea. Its impossible to get a real feel for the size and scale and difficulty of each feature/line without being there. the judges walk the mountain and inspect these lines first hand so they know exactly what the riders are doing out there. People at home are clueless.

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  • T-Dawg

    10/29/2018 12:57 PM

    In one sense-you’re right.
    But really- who are the 99% of people with these strong opinions saying someone “got robbed” ?- or the format should change ? To me, anyone who takes the time to watch Rampage “Live” , on a Friday afternoon even, is creditable enough to have some small input on the scores, especially if the totality of ALL the online viewers scorings would only be 33% of the rider’s overall score (i.e. given my theoretical scenario). The truly clueless typical mtber wouldn’t take the time to watch it online Live, and probably have no concern about it at all. Frankly, I would be fine if just all 40 diggers were the judges, but I imagine it makes the online viewers feel more invested and involved, like they really have a small part in the judging. And, Yes, I have been to the Rampage site before, during the off season, and rode some of the small jumps, but overall it was very humbling experience to see the site -in person.

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  • sino428

    10/29/2018 1:12 PM

    I just can't agree. I watch the event every year live and while I certainly appreciate and have a decent idea how big this stuff is overall, I (like everyone else who isn't actually out there on the hill) have no clue of the nuances of each line. Everyone loved Fairclough's line at home but maybe it didn't score well because it really wasn't as cool as we thought. Canyon gaps and that big rock play well visually on social media, but were they really that difficult relative to what the other riders were doing? I wouldn't know, but the judges do. Also, fans are just not objective. Everyone has favorites and people they would like to see win. Having fans vote count would turn the whole event into a hype driven shitshow.

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  • hardboiled

    10/29/2018 11:01 AM

    I think the current format is pretty good, personally. my thought is a much more subtle change -- just get rid of 1-100 point scores entirely, and rank each rider against everyone else without a point score attached.

    Brendan would've been in first after his first run down, and the judges wouldn't need to score him artificially low to "leave room" for better scores later on. if the next guy throws down a better run, Brendan (and everyone else below him) would get bumped down a spot. from a spectator perspective, the point differential between the riders doesn't seem to mean a whole lot during the competition.

    obviously this doesn't address whether Rheeder's run was better than Andreu's (not in my opinion) but I think it would give the judges more flexibility and they wouldn't feel boxed in by attaching a numerical score for an early rider that they have to stand by for the duration of the contest.

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  • T-Dawg

    10/30/2018 12:28 AM

    This sounds like a good idea, on the surface.........until you realize: **How are the 5 judges supposed to figure out where a mid pack rider’s placement goes? For example, if 10 riders have done runs - and Remy M comes down and does an OK run without crashing....... all they know is - He’s not 1st place - and he ain’t last place.......So is he 5th place? 8th place? And you would have to have all 5 judges agree what his placement is......or you are right back where you began- a scoring system. The only way this would work is if the riders somehow inexplicably agreed rankings, other than 1st place, didn’t matter anymore.

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  • sino428

    10/30/2018 10:14 AM

    I didn't think of that. The "ranking instead of scoring" idea works if there is one judge, but if each judge is making an independent evaluation, how do you then just rank everyone if not all the judges agree where they should slot in?

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  • jefedelosjefes

    10/29/2018 10:34 AM

    The issue as I see it is that "freeride" just isn't synonymous with competition. Making it into one takes away from the entire ethos of the sport. The fest series is really onto something and taps into what the sport is all about at its core (riding with your buds and pushing your limits... for YOU not anybody else). Rampage's only purpose is to commercialize the sport and give these guys a platform that companies will pay them for. It's an obligatory means to a paycheck, a way for these guys to live the dream, a necessary evil.

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  • sino428

    10/29/2018 12:09 PM

    "riding with your buds and pushing your limits... for YOU not anybody else".... at the end of the day I think that's what these guys are doing anyway. FEST Is cool and all but lets be honest, outside of real hardcore riding fans, no one cares about FEST. Unless its a live event, with buildup and hype and all that, its never going to be the platform for exposure that Rampage is.

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  • jefedelosjefes

    10/30/2018 9:26 AM

    Yes, Rampage is the sitcom of the freeride world. It provides the drama and mass appeal. It rewards test dummys so they keep doing ridiculous feats for the enjoyment of others. The modern day coliseum as they say.

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  • sino428

    10/29/2018 9:54 AM

    I just think that standardizing the lines would then result in a trick contest. Of course all these guys would be able to handle and ride the lines, so it would then most likely come down to who does the best tricks on the given courses, and I don't think anyone wants Rampage to turn into that. I get that its a "contest" but at the same time its probably more of just a showcase for these riders. Some want to win badly, but listening to the riders, most are stoked to be there and put down a great run regardless of the results. I think the "contest" aspect might be a bigger deal to the fans.

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  • Hollywood Gainey

    10/29/2018 11:19 AM

    I think one rider said it best. (loose qoute) "I dont care where i end up in results, i'm stoked on my top to bottom run and I hope everyone else makes it down without a crash!"
    I don't think 99.9% of the people who have an opinion (including myself) can even really begin to fathom what it is to actually ride a Rampage line in the moment. (I was personally at rampage in 2016, it is a awe event that if you have not seen in person you cannot begin to grasp even as a spectator.)
    I know its not realistic, but would love to see what the results would be if the competitors sat down and judged each other after the event!

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