Not a slopestyle
EDITORIAL

#NotASlopestyleCourse

Words Hailey Elise
Photos Hailey Elise and Ollie Jones
Date Oct 30, 2017

If you've been following Red Bull Rampage, you've probably seen the trolls hitting it hard that Rampage has turned into a slopestyle event. It's evident that over the years, the jumps have become more manicured and consequently more trickable but do these factors truly change what the competition is about: The Big Mountain Send?

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A massive drop in the middle of the desert. This in itself should be enough but for the sake of the argument, we will continue on...

You may have heard that the scale and ruggedness of the site is something that can only be comprehended in person. This has been true of every Rampage venue. One thing that has changed is the accessibility of water. The site that has been home to Rampage over the past two years has provided water access above what the diggers could carry on their backs. 

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The site by its very definition is wild, rugged and inhospitable. 

What's also not given its fair share of attention is the fact that a rider and a team of two (yes - only two diggers this year) must undertake the task of building an entire line in just under two weeks. A modern slopestyle course could not be completed by a few men and their bare hands in a fortnight. 

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We weren’t really sure how Dustin Gilding was still smiling after spending so much time in the desert so we asked: “This is the pinnacle of our sport and honestly, it’s an honor to be out here.”

Yeah, we get it, the tricks have evolved from your basic 3's to 720's and a backflip now isn't much unless it's off a flat drop but it is evident - especially in this year's competition - that going full send is where the points are still at.

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Kyle Strait on his first practice run of the drop that he and Cam Zink shared.

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Kyle Strait taking his first run on the steepest line in Redbull Rampage’s history. 

The most obvious reason that Rampage is still a big mountain competition is the gnar factor. The drops, jumps and the exposure are all some of the biggest in the sport. Sure, you have a beautiful jump that has edges and a lip as a straight as a ruler, but what about what's on either side of it? One error or one gust of wind can turn a 'standard' crash into an explosion of dirt and a free fall off a ridge. To sum it all up, at what slopestyle event do you see a rider opting out of their second run because risking their life yet again isn't worth the small potential increase in points?

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Kyle opted to forgo a second run on the day of the competition. He felt he put everything on the table in his first run and the risk associated with doing it again as well as the chance that there wouldn’t be a dramatic change in points was not worth it.

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On competition day, you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Is it excitement or nerves? We are leaning towards the latter. Ethan Nell memorizing each feature as he walks his line.

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Conor MacFarlane looking at his drop prior to his only practice run, which resulted in a crash that caused him to opt out of competing.

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Elation mixed with a bit of relief and dust, a whole lot of dust. 

Watching not only the skill associated with getting down the rock in one piece but the mental toughness required to deem it possible is where the highest level of our sport sits. It’s time for us to stop placing it into a category which is by no means lesser but doesn’t assign adequate credit to what is being achieved in the desert.

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Strait and T-Mac providing moral support for Ethan. Based on the current dialogue from viewers, it seems that seeing is believing when it comes to Rampage.

And if you still feel that Rampage has turned into a slopestyle competition, we would suggest getting yourself out into the desert to experience it for yourself.

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Comments

downhillermenon
0
Vinay Menon  - Oct. 30, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Big mountain riding has gotten bigger and gnarlier since it's inception. In 2017, the massive landings, cleaner run-ins are an investment into increasing the chances of a rider nailing the hits. Rampage 2017 with it's "All dirt" features, screamed mountain biking!

Future looks radical!

Reply

jitenshakun
+1 Luix
Jitensha Kun  - Oct. 30, 2017, 1:54 p.m.

The TV coverage is to blame.  The cameras don't do the terrain and line selection justice.

Reply

Mic
0
Mic  - Oct. 31, 2017, 2:14 p.m.

I think on the one hand tv coverage might be the culprit, on the other hand it has definitely to do with the general overflow/overkill of extreme-sports images. 

The true size, scope and skillset needed for such lines is not on most people's radars unless experienced firsthand which can be extremely humbling. 

Calling Rampage just another slopestyle comp is like calling the stops of the Fest series nothing more than dj sessions.

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