RESULTS & OBSERVATIONS: Red Bull Rampage 2017

It happens every time there's a Red Bull Rampage - I think there's no way the lines and stunts riders are building will be rideable. Then, to rub my doubtful ignorance in my face, the best freeriders on the planet completely shred every line and stunt with so much skill and fluidity that I deceive myself into hesitantly entertaining the idea that maybe I could ride some of it. Yeah right! Luckily I've been to a couple Rampages to witness, in person, the madness of what riding this terrain really mean. It's terrifying and I know my place in that terrain is nowhere near straddling a bike.

Cam Zink is the king of rubbing ignorance in my face. I always doubt him. And he always takes a huge dump on my head with massive 360's, riding the gnarliest, steepest lines or chucking flat-take-off flips down a 40-foot drop. I'll wear that dump on my head proudly. Kyle Strait does it every time, too. Considering his sui-dropper in 2004 was almost as big as what he's doing now, I don't know why I doubt him. I'm starting to get used to having my lack of faith shattered after 15 years of Rampage and am relieved that 2017 proved to be no different.

Rampage Run Observations

I may not have faith in the huck-ability of the riders, but this year's judging panel is as legit as it gets. Spangler, Gully, Bender, Kage, Vink and Kindrade? Come on. Is there a more stalwart group of shredders and diggers qualified to judge Rampage? I say no. There were no snowboard judges here or weird guest appearances on the panel; just the most core riders worthy of casting a vote. It was riders and diggers judging riders and diggers. All the observations below come with the caveat of me having complete respect for the judging panel and their decisions. I would never, under any circumstance, want their jobs. 

Sorge hit this first lip at the top of the course and didn't land until the finish line. Not really, but it almost felt like it! 1st place.

1. Kurt Sorge - His run embodied the spirit of Rampage. He's hauling ass, hitting the biggest booters and drops, all while going upside-down and taking his hands off with possibly more style than any other rider. The silent Canadian astronaut does it once again and becomes the first 3-time winner of the event. #boostmode

That's Zink flipping in there. A human. On a bicycle. Upside-down. Off a cliff. #WTF

2. Cam Zink - Go back and read what I wrote above. Zink never fails to impress and his first run down the guts featuring a massive flat-take-off flip drop in the middle was completed with more big flip moves. It was a heavy run and exactly what we expect from Reno's finest. He had the hotseat until Sorge's run. Cam tried to add some incremental improvements and sizzle to his 2nd run, which would have improved his score, but he crashed on the final jump attempting a front flip. Zink is Rampage.

Antoine Bizet on the road to disappointment. People's Champ, however.

12. Antoine Bizet - Definitely ripped off. He wasn't going to win IMO, but his first run score of 81 that resulted in 9th at the time sure seemed like a typo that should have been a 91. He had frontflips, backflips a double backflip and enough of the natural gnar that the crowd booed when the score was announced. A Rampage first? The people spoke and he won the People's Choice award online however. He took his second run with a backpack on, making us wonder he's pondering a future in Enduro racing. In all seriousness, that score was a weird one. Maybe it's because he had crazy hair in his athlete portrait or because he pretended to flick a booger on the camera before dropping in but 12th, for what he did, isn't accurate.

The kids are comin' in hot. Ethan Nell had that rowdy, loose, powerful style that paid off.

3. Ethan Nell - The young local with zest, spunk and the super gnarly Sui-Pad Sender (a double drop, lily pad stunt with a no-hander off the top). His rowdiness and risk put him up near the top and keeps the future of freeride looking bright. His score was higher than I would have expected, but ludicrous, entertaining and loose nonetheless.

4. Brandon Semenuk - A landing-gone-wrong off a nollie 360 during his first run meant Semenuk only had one chance to compete for the top spot. Semenuk's 2nd run was full of big mountain and big moves. He blasted his signature corked 360 step-up longer than anticipated, but held on in a sideways landing of Utah roost. The creativity and style was there, but this year it wasn't enough.

5. Brett Rheeder - He finally landed his corked 720 on the DH bike. It bit him in the ass in practice and during his first run this morning. He regrouped with a tech-filled run and the double-spinner stomper to seal a Top 5.

6. Thomas Genon - The ultimate blend of slopestyle and freeride. 360's, opposite 360's, fluid steeze. 6th place in the extremely difficult debate of tricks versus gnar at Rampage.

7. Carson Storch - Consistent, quiet and smooth as they come. His first run featured that massive 360 he spun last year along with clean, creative lines down the mountain. He came up short on the big 360 during his second run, failing to improve his score, but he was dialed.

Kyle Strait down the guts. YEAH. RIGHT.

One more Strait shot. Hey, I've got an idea. Let's ride off a 40-foot cliff on our bike and take our hands off the bars. #MENTAL

8. Kyle Strait - Down the freaking guts, sui drop, flip drop, superman over a double and a classic table ender! Curious as to why his score was so low with some of the biggest moves on the mountain compared to a run like Nell's. He may have been curious too and figured there was no point to a second run, citing wind issues.

9. Tyler McCaul - Fluid, big moves and a gnarly suicide no-hander drop with bars turning? No sweat.

TVS about to Caveman. What a view.

10. Tom Van Steenbergen - He started with a Caveman for his 2nd run! Jumping off a cliff with bike in hand, landing on a skinny-ass ledge. WOW. A foot dab mid-run probably nuked any chance of improvement in score.

Andreu with one of the few moments of panic of the whole day. He's ok and we're glad crashes were at a minimum this year. Remarkable considering the riding going down!

11. Andreu Lacondeguy - So gnarly, so pinned and full ejection in his 2nd run. Glad he's ok. Another case of not understanding how his first run score was so low.

Claw, Bas, R-Dog and PEF - Could watch them all grease their runs down the mountain every year and don't give a shit about where they end up in the results because they're pure eye candy on the bike.

HECK YEAH PAUL!!! It was so rad seeing Paul Basagoitia on screen and hearing about his progress and feelings of returning to the venue. CRUSHING IT!

Thanks to Everyone That Makes Rampage Happen

No matter what, making Rampage happen may be one of the most undervalued and thankless jobs in the business. There are so many logistics to overcome and it's so easy for me to watch it on a screen and criticize this score or that camera angle. But without the hard work of dozens (hundreds?) of people, I wouldn't be able to watch my favorite riders do mind-blowing things in the desert on their bikes. The team and event format is more dialed than it's ever been. Thank you riders, diggers, judges, event organizers, media nerds, TV people, announcers, tech support, first-aid crews, security and fans alike. It's been another one for the history books! #longliverampage -gordo

See 40 mind-blowing photos of finals from @maddogboris

What are your observations about Rampage 2017?

9 comments
  • boaz

    10/28/2017 6:41 PM

    i think this was an incredible event, being there and seeing the magnitude of the lines thrown down by everyone was so rad. there will always be endless opinions about judging i think the real challenge for us is to not care about the judging and instead be stoked and celebrate the riding that went down. watching what went down i’m not sure how i could judge a run like PEFs compared to Bizet or really compare zink flip to sorges flip and say which was gnarlier. or compare genon’s run with mega tech and precise tricks to a more pure big mountain line. i think we should be stoked on the diversity of riding, it’d be a shame to have everyone have the same vision of a great rampage run

  • AdamO

    10/28/2017 8:18 AM

    The level was so high this year but i do not agree that Bizet should get a podium - maybe top 6. For me the most underrated was Bizet, Lacondeguy and Kyle Strait. Kyle was the most stylish guy that day - high jumps, super flowy, variety of tricks and sketchy line

  • kidwoo

    10/27/2017 9:44 PM

    Sui. That's a kind of chef, right?

  • schwaaa31

    10/27/2017 8:10 PM

    It seems like every year the judging takes away from what is an insane event. Hell, even Strait said he didn’t take his second run because it wasn’t worth the risk to him seeing how they were judging. It’s hard to argue that Bizet got hosed. I say eliminate the judging, let Red Bull pony up some good dough, pay the top ten guys, and let them put on a show. Fest style.

  • F1234K

    10/27/2017 7:44 PM

    I would have had to flip a coin between Zink and Sorge. Other than that I think it was one of the best Rampages ever!

    Here and there I would arm chair judge it different, but I’ve never been there physically so the judges probably know better.

    Love the event! Love the progression! Love the fact there were no serious crashes.

  • dan.wojo

    10/28/2017 12:20 AM

    Was so good to see so many clean runs. I think the format this year was bang on. Was so good to see the riders have ample practice time and not super stretched. Last year was just a bit too sketchy and it was hard to watch. The guys seemed more dialled and comfortable this year.

  • adrennan

    10/27/2017 3:21 PM

    i think nell's big flat spin high up the mountain really helped his score. risky spot for the big styly trick. and the lily pad was a unique and techy feature with the added sui, rad move.

  • sspomer

    10/27/2017 3:27 PM

    the lily pad sui was insane

  • OneManArmy

    10/29/2017 4:16 AM

    Thought tmacs wad gnarlier

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