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How to fix Red Bull Rampage...IMO

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10/20/2015 9:53 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/20/2015 10:05 PM

How to fix Red Bull Rampage...IMO
Red Bull makes a ton of money from really a "grass roots" kind of sport. They get marketing, video sales, POV hit pays on youtube, and what not. The riders don't get much.

Here is what I would do....

Invite only 30 riders....
Pay each rider 3,000.00 for expenses
Give 1500 for dig team to split
Give them an RV to use...
If they damage RV ...take it off from the 3,000

Educate every rider what insurance they should buy and supplement insurance in case of long recovery

Injuries happen....speak the truth

Increase top prize to 200,000
second 50,000
3rd 25,000
4th, 5th, 6th 5,000.00

Here how you pay for it.....


Raise ticket prices to 45 bucks
also throw in a meet and greet for 30 bucks (or 70 combined)
Meet and greet comes with hot dogs, hamburgers, soda or you can buy beer (or no beers)

Have it inside huge tents (nascar does this all the time)

Riders will be happy and fans can meet the "superstars" in person...take pictures with them and autograpgh

so thursday qualifying,
friday night meet and greet,
Saturday Competition

this solves everything
riders get paid more for taking risks
dig teams get something for their time
Fans get up and close to their heros
Red Bull Comes out on top


10/22/2015 10:21 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/22/2015 2:27 PM

i personally don't understand how throwing more money at any of this helps out. the people who will take the most money away from the event are the ones who do not get hurt (podium). the people who get hurt (using your payout breakdown in this case) come away with $3000 before any expense. that covers nothing in the long run.

someone i spoke with suggested the theory that offering more prize money just guarantees higher risk...that riders will huck for $$, doing things they may not otherwise. then red bull (in this case) is the devil because they were "forcing" riders to take risks because a rider has an even harder time saying no to the risk b/c of a huge payout.

if vital had a cliff huck bounty video contest and gave $1,000,000 for the biggest cliff drop, plenty of unqualified and qualified riders would send it off of 300 foot cliffs for a chance at the cash. is that a solid plan just because prize money is good?

education on personal rider insurance (like you mention) is the best suggestion, IMO. it should be up to the riders to have their insurance sorted and their sponsorship deals aligned with what they feel the risks are. if a rider feels pressure to do something they don't want to do or disagrees with something they have to sign at the event, then they don't compete or try the trick or drop in. their sponsors understand that is a possibility with how the contract is written. simple enough, really.

kelly mcgarry made the decision to "take it easy" this year and "avoid the crash reel." his personal decision rewarded him with last place basically. but it was his decision, just like a decision to take risk and go for the win.

none of us want to see anyone hurt. ever. i was at the first practice of the first rampage in 2001 as media. i went home, driving all night, back to colorado after that first day. part of me leaving was that i was scared of what might happen to the riders. i sincerely thought someone would die that first year. i had never seen any riding like that in person and thought it was the worst idea in history. it's no different now. no one forced me to stay at the event in 2001 just because it was a red bull event. because i left, i missed out on photo/video footage and possibly $$. but it was my decision. i went back in 2002 and 2003 and every year thought someone was going to die. thankfully no one did. i feel the decision is no different for riders.

edit at 2pm - i just finished watching zink's movie (which is awesome)...some real insight in there and interesting to know that when zink was on hyper bikes and EC was his team manager, EC decided not to go to rampage to watch when he learned what zink was going to flip. didn't want to see possible carnage in person. b/c it was too gnarly. pretty crazy, especially considering what EC has probably seen in his lifetime of bikes.


10/22/2015 12:51 PM

Spot on! Thank you for writing that SSpomer. Doing well at Rampage is about exposure and marketability to sponsors. Rampage is obviously high up on the gnar scale, but the people implying that EWS/WC racing aren't just as risky are splitting some pretty fine hairs. At almost every round there are top riders injured, and probably many more privateers. The last few years we've seen concussions, broken backs, jaws, shoulders, ankles, femurs, pelvis... you name it. No one screams at the UCI, Shimano, Freecaster, or Red Bull to pay for racers' rehab.

IMO the only 'fix' rampage needs is in the judging. Participants risk their lives for a chance to be on the podium, and that shouldn't be sabotaged by a lack of line choice, visibility, or playing favorites ( cough cough FEST ). I also like the idea of multiple awards like: best line, best trick, best flow, fastest run, biggest donger, people's choice etc... in order to spread the wealth a little.

Another semi-crazy idea would be to equip bikes with sensors that track speed, cumulative air time, and bike position ( e.g. spins, inversions )... so scoring could be automatic like a video game, lol!


10/22/2015 4:37 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/22/2015 4:39 PM

scriz wrote:

Spot on! Thank you for writing that SSpomer. Doing well at Rampage is about exposure and marketability to sponsors. Rampage is ...more

One disagreement and one agreement. I didn't see any favoritism towards FEST series riders. It never occurred to me during the broadcast. The FESTY guys are the RAMPAGE guys. They are the riders who go big. Period... Perhaps FEST style events are where RAMPAGE itself needs to go. One big, flowy line down the mountain that is well designed, well built, and as safe as could be expected.

But your other "Semi-crazy" idea is genius. All of that tech exists. Make it happen before the rest and make millions. You could make a device to use in comps as well as a Stravaesque version to score how rad you got on your last ride.

Million Dollar Idea. Go...

Oh, and well said Spomer.


10/22/2015 4:59 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/22/2015 5:20 PM

I have a different perspective on this as one of the few dudes who splits time equally between riding/racing bikes and big mountain/bc skiing. Both sports have a number of parallels. Unfortunately, unlike bikes, experienced athletes die skiing every year in contests, filming or just messing around for fun. In the past 18 months I have to use two hands to count the number of fallen "known" athletes...and this doesn't include life changing injury. I was talking to a buddy of mine who has similar passions and we both agreed, it wasn't "if" but "who" and "when". It happens - and far more than you might believe.

There are pros and non-pros alike who die doing these things. Many of the fallen are those who are just super passionate about what they do with no further incentive behind the next turn or the next big day. "So what?" you might say. "So what if people die skiing, that doesn't make it okay and it certainly doesn't "fix" our problem". If you are saying this, you'd be right. But I am illustrating this point to hopefully showcase its not Redbull, its not Rampage, its not sponsors and its not the sport...its something more. Its about a life fully lived. Its about the word "quality" (not to get all Pirsig on you but..) Its about living the best way possible between now and the moment you are on the other-side of the dirt.

Like I told Brandon, part of the reason we ride bikes (or ski) is there are moments were we can feel like supeheros. There are moments we can bend the rules of what we thought was possible. That's pretty special. That's also pretty addicting.

I don't think anyone started riding bikes to be well liked, to be popular, to make money, to win, for the fame, to act like Kanye West or to get anything from this sport. We started because it was fun. And for some of us, we found ourselves having more fun when we were flying through the air seeing what is possible on two wheels. Is it sustainable? Maybe. Its a ragged edge. But as a friend once told me, if its not dangerous or its not expensive, it probably isn't fun.

One phrase I often hear when someone goes down in these sports is "he/she died doing what she/he loved". It sounds great on the internet. It feels extra hollow at a funeral. Fact is nobody should die young. Nobody should have to deal with a life altering injury. Colloqulisms just don't "make it all better", even if they sound semi-rational right now. So what am I driving at? I'm driving at the unrest of it all.

Living in a community of skiers, we exist in this state of push and pull. You can see it in my writing. In this little "piece". One moment it can feel SO worth it, the next it can feel so dauntingly confusing and hardly worth it. But at the end of the day, its just something you have to accept or move away from. You can't be a race car driver and not go fast. You can't find that feeling of "that IS possible" without taking a risk. You can't reap the reward of leaving the harbors with your ship roped to the dock. You have to find that line (of risk reward) and be okay where you sit on it, or more realistically continually re-calibrate and re-asses as you progress through life. The bummer however, is I've found the brain is unable to compute the true consequences of things going badly...its a weird instrument in this regard.

I think one of the hardest things for me to accept is the selfishness of it all. People say "well, you could get run over driving to work tomorrow". Which is true. But in some ways, going to work benefits more than just yourself. Skiing and riding bikes is most often a selfish pursuit.

I know I'm being dramatic here. The point is, as a culture, where do we want to go with all this? Will live slow die old become cool? Probably not. Again, I'd argue every single one of these athletes is addicted to this sort of thing with or without sponsors. With or without Rampage.

To quote Hunter... “The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there.”

At risk of rambling till the sun comes up....all for not. I put down the pen (or keyboard) and am going to ride my bike and drink beer. At least in its barest form, that's all still damn fun!


10/22/2015 5:06 PM

Well said Jeff.


10/22/2015 5:27 PM

Side note - one interesting thing to compare is how big mountain ski contests are judged. Any wrecklessness is heavily frowned upon. There are also "no fall zones" of every venue in which the skier is massively penalized for crashing (doing something stupid) in. The idea is for athletes to throw down where its most safe.

Still, "most safe" is a retaliative term and sending multi stage high exposure lines the norm...


10/22/2015 5:35 PM

Side side note - there was an article about PTSD and skiing somewhere I wanted to post. It sort of plays into this discussion. Will find in the AM. Reserving this as a spot for it!


10/23/2015 9:14 AM

good stuff jeff, thanks for posting.

re: ski contest video...have mercy that 4-banded cliff line. so interesting too, it looks like there are 9 people at the finish area. no spectators.


10/23/2015 10:10 AM

sspomer wrote:

good stuff jeff, thanks for posting.

re: ski contest video...have mercy that 4-banded cliff line. so interesting too, it ...more

Yeah, most of the FWT (big top level comps) are like that being they are so remote. Its a "watch the live feed only" kind of thing. Plus, with snow conditions often questionable, it'd be hard to put anyone this side of anchored in photogs/medics on the hill.