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Dust in the Wind

Paint Fast: Red Bull Rampage Finals 2022

Words Cy Whitling
Photos Hailey Elise
Date Oct 22, 2022
Reading time

The line of headlights snaked through the desert as the first rays of sun kissed the lips and landings of 2022’s Rampage venue. Riders and their diggers hiked up the access road one last time to put the finishing touches on their lines and take a last few practice laps, and soon the hills were ringing with encouraging heckling and shovel slaps. 

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It’s been a big week and a half for the riders and their merry band of diggers.

Rookie rider William Robert opened things up with a clean and stylish run down the center of the venue that plenty of room to up the ante. 

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From there, Rampage veterans Carson Storch and Andreu Lacondeguy put down clean and consistent runs as the crowd loosened up. 

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Andreu Lacondeguy’s style is impossible to duplicate.

Dylan Stark’s approach to his rookie year at Rampage felt a little like a kid’s first day after transferring schools: he took on the biggest bully on the course, the canyon gap, and laid down a huge tuck no hander to tie together a loose and steezy run. He opted out of taking another lap, but absolutely proved that he deserves to be riding at this level. 

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Dylan Stark likes wildlife and going big.

As Stark rode through his line, his dig crew whipped out his surprise feature, a rail that they set up on one of his smaller drops. This was definitely the first grind in Rampage history, and is exactly the kind of twist that makes his riding so much fun to watch.

Tom van Steenbergen put together a safe run, and the crowd was obviously relieved to see him come down safely, along with DJ Brandt. He went back up for his second run, but made the decision to call it when the wind picked up.

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Tom van Steenbergen didn’t go upside down off this drop, but he did pull a smooth t-bog.

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DJ Brandt with a timeless one-footer for the crowd.(Photo by: Hailey Elise)

With a few years away from Rampage, and a new bike underneath him, it was hard to know what to expect from Brett Rheeder. He put on an absolute masterclass in technicality and precision with flips, tail whips, spins and combos all the way down the course. The armchair quarterbacks are sure to protest his run as “too slopestyle”  but that’s a misjudgment. Rheeder is so smooth and so precise that his tricks on wildly technical drops and features are hard to judge without seeing these features in person. He definitely earned that 90.66 that dropped him into first place before he made the call not to head up for another run. 

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Brett Rheeder’s style is damn near clinical. (Photo by Hailey Elise)

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Rheeder’s hip jump was a real crowd pleaser.

Meanwhile, the members of the media jogged back and forth on the access road, trying to set up shots of every athlete like some kind of deranged horde of dusty zombies, toting thousands of dollars in lenses and camera gear.

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Shooting Rampage feels very similar to shooting wildlife in a National Park at times. Look for the big group of people and point your camera where they’re pointing theirs.

Szymon Godziek had been sessioning the double drop to canyon gap all week, and tweaked the canyon’s lip to give it a little more pop on Wednesday. He dropped into an absolute heater of a run with a 360 into the double drop and a backflip on the canyon gap. McGazza’s spirit lives on!

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Szymon’s canyon gap backflip was a real crowd pleaser.

Jaxson Riddle is so obviously riding for himself that it’s a true delight to see. He linked absurdly technical moto tricks into a front flip off the bike in the finish corral. Some will argue that he was underscored with a 67. Others will understand that Jaxson’s riding can’t be quantified with numbers. He hiked back up for a second run, but made the call to bail as the wind picked up. 

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Jaxson Riddle is just a delight to watch.

Ethan Nell put down a clean run before Thomas Genon finished up a run absolutely packed with tricks that slotted him into third place, for now. 

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Ethan Nell rode strong all week.

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Thomas Genon’s run was fast and clean.

Tyler McCaul’s run was stacked full of features, as he tricked hit after hit, spending as much time in the air as on the ground. Unfortunately, he barely cased a step down backflip that led into a technical sequence culminating in a drop into Gee Atherton’s pocket, and TMac had to skid to a stop on the lip, costing him points from an otherwise stellar run. 

Cam Zink’s run has been the big question mark of the last few days. Kyle Strait crashed on a drop leading into the Oakley Icon sender in practice. He fractured some vertebrae and had to sit out finals during surgery.

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Cam Zink went for a superman on this shared booter halfway down the course.


Without that drop working, Zink tested an alternate run-in to his skipper setup jump. He still came up short on that jump, and spent a long time yesterday evening, hanging out on top of the Icon drop, weighing his options. Even though he called a backflip off that feature on track walk day, watching his friend crash out and miss his first Rampage, ever, as a result, obviously made an impression. Today, the crowd and announcers still weren’t sure of his plan, but he opted to drop into Andreu’s smaller lip, just to the looker’s right of the Icon sender, and drop a 360. While his run was still impressive, Zink’s investment in the Icon sender made it hard to adapt, and cost him in points as he scored a 66.

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Cam Zink doing Cam Zink things. (Photo by Hailey Elise)


Next to drop, Reed Boggs put together a textbook run that included a 60+ foot backflip that slotted him into second

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Reed Bogs flipping off Mount Rushmore. (Photo by Hailey Elise )

Kurt Sorge and Alex Volokhov have been working together all week, but Volokhov took their massive drop too deep yesterday, and ended up sitting out comp day, So Sorge was the only rider to drop that far right section of the course. He straight aired his drop into two long and low skippers that lead into a massive step down that Jaxson Riddle cased really hard a few years ago. Sorge greased the line with his signature combo of technicality, amplitude, and big flips.

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Kurt Sorge took this drop deep.

Up top Brandon Semenuk waited alone as rider after rider dropped. Finally, the last rider on course, the winningest rider in Rampage history, took his bike in his hands and acid dropped right into the gut of the course. This move is hard to capture, I haven’t seen a clip that adequately captures its magnitude and exposure. Semenuk stomped it, charged into his line, threw a barspin on his ridiculous step-down/canyon gap/hip transfer hit from the last time Rampage was held here, and continued on down the course, stacking flips and tail whips. 

At the bottom, tensions were ridiculously high as the crowd waited for his score. With Rheeder already opting out of a second run, could Semenuk dethrone him, earning his fifth Rampage win? Finally, his score was announced, 84, good enough for third place. Whether or not his run should have outscored Szymon’s is probably going to be the controversy of the weekend. Regardless, Semenuk hiked right back up to the top in an attempt to best his score.

Unfortunately, the breeze picked up as the ten riders who opted to take a second run got ready to drop in. First Tyler McCaul made the decision to bow out of his final run, and others quickly followed suit, trickling down to the base area. Finally the organizers made the call, it was too breezy to continue and scores would be based on first runs.

As spectators made their way back down to the finish corral, there was almost anti-climactic. A few riders had obviously “safer” first runs, and we’ll never know what could have been. Could Tom van Steenbergen have front flipped off his drop? Maybe Semenuk could have upped the ante and overtaken Szymon or Rheeder? We’ll never know, and that’s sort of the point. This is Rampage. There are no points for “coulda, shoulda, woulda.” Instead, Brett Rheeder made it abundantly clear that he’s back on top, as the rest of the field once more upped the level of competition.

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Your 2022 Red Bull Rampage Podium: 1st: Brett Rheeder, 2nd: Szymon Godziek, 3rd: Brandon Semenuk, 4th Reed Boggs, 5th Thomas Genon (Photo by Hailey Elise)

And that’s a wrap here in the desert! Tom Van Steenbergen took home the McGazza Spirit Award, Jaxson Riddle had Best Style, Brandon Semenuk’s acid drop start won Best Trick, Cam Zink took home the Toughness Award, and Phil Mclean and Austin Davignon (Rheeder’s team) took home Best Diggers.

I’m off to wash sand out of every nook and cranny of my gear, but soon enough we’ll be back in Virgin for another edition of Rampage.

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Comments

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
1 month ago
+3 Cy Whitling Pete Roggeman Lynx .

This is the best and funniest coverage of the Rampage ever!

Reply

Cydwhit
Cy Whitling
1 month ago
+1 danithemechanic

Thank you!

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
1 month ago
+2 Pete Roggeman Cy Whitling

Dude, another great bit of event "coverage". Love the bit of humor you've added into these ones, I mean seriously, why else would someone even attempt to jump over a canyon like that unless there was a monster down there so you could just go down and back up? LOL.

Reply

Cydwhit
Cy Whitling
1 month ago
0

I mean, if you can't jump over a roaring fire or a snake pit, a shark infested canyon is a good option too, right?

Reply

heckler
Sven Luebke
1 month ago
+1 Cy Whitling

The first Rampage photo essay I've actually looked at all the pictures in a very long time.  Nice work Cy!

Reply

Sethsg
Sethsg
1 month ago
+1 Cy Whitling

Were the printed photos taken on pack film? Also, this is a super cool way of blending photos with drawings.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
1 month ago
+1 Cy Whitling

Hey! Are you implying that Dylan Stark has jumped the shark? Rude! tehe, only joking, I love these.

Reply

Stevemtb
Stevemtb
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Cy Whitling

Nice work Cy! I always look at your photos dude. Best coverage of Rampage. This is why NSMB is so different from the rest of the pack.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
trumpstinyhands
1 month ago
0

I love the Snow White And The Seven.....ummm.....Little People inspired painting.

Reply

kos
Kos
1 month ago
0

Bomber stuff. Thanks!

Reply

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