Good Month / Bad Month: Women's Freeride, Olympic Singletrack, Recovery, Loss, & Closing Day - October 2019

Nov 1, 2019
by Daniel Sapp  

The 2020 Olympic XC Course

Olympic XC Racing in Tokyo is Going to be True Mountain Biking

From the looks of the 2020 Tokyo test event, everyone is in for some proper XC racing next summer. Athletes from many countries traveled to Japan in October to get a first look at the XCO track that will be used for the 2020 Olympic games. Many athletes took tumbles and there were no complaints about a lack of technicality. Historically, many Olympic XC courses have been more of a drag race, requiring a lot of fitness and minimal handling skills.

The venue in Japan looks to be to the advantage for a technical rider. There are steep climbs, rugged rock (boulder) sections, mandatory jumps, and more. Any rider looking to win on fitness alone is going to be sorely let down.

In the trial race, Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff took the wins, Schurter in a sprint but Neff by over a minute margin. No matter what, will be interesting to see what happens here in less than a year.

Female Freeriders

Red Bull Formation Helps Push the Movement Forward

"It's more than just "women's Rampage." As Katie Holden explained, "Formation is a women’s freeride progression session, and an opportunity to give the girls the tools to learn, grow, and push women’s freeride forward."

At the 2015 Rampage site, Micayla Gatto, Tahnee Seagrave, Vaea Verbeeck, Veronique Sandler, Hannah Bergemann, and Vinny Armstrong created their own lines. Casey Brown, Tara Geiger, Michelle Parker, Rebecca Rusch, and Jill Kintner, along with a host of other industry veterans were also in attendance.

Additionally, Katie Lozancich and Michelle Parker were there shooting photos. Paris Gore, Carson Storch, and Tyler McCaul, all RedBull Ramage veterans on the bike and with the camera, were also there to provide some mentorship.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Hannah Bergemann dropping in to her line. Photo: Paris Gore.

There were two days of digging, a day of rest, then two full days of riding. Holden explained that it's not a competition, but a way for athletes to grow. "On a top level, we have three “Pillars of Formation” that are goals for each of the athletes here. The goal is for each of them to progress and develop as a freeride athlete, develop the future of women’s freeride, and refine one’s personal brand and leadership skills."

We're looking forward to seeing how Formation progresses in the years to come!

Healing and Progress

Brook Macdonald is on the Bike

It's been a very rough couple months for the Bulldog after a crash at Mont Sainte Anne left him unable to feel his legs and with broken two vertebrae. After surgery, he left the hospital with screws and rods stabilizing his spine and a long road of recovery ahead of him.

Back home in New Zealand, Macdonald has been working hard with physiotherapy sessions. This past week, he was able to get on the bike for one of the first times since his spinal cord injury.

bigquotesMy first proper ride. This is by far my biggest achievement, I didn’t think I would be able to ride the distance I did but I had a loop set in my mind and I wasn’t going to fail that 13k and sore legs but this is where I build from! Thanks @samblenkinsop for pushing me!

Losing Friends

Jordie Lunn Passes Away After Crash

There have been several deaths of friends in the mountain bike community in the last month including Jordie Lunn. Jordie was a pillar of the mountain bike community and one of the friendliest and kindest people many of us have ever met.

Jordie's riding was on a level of its own and the only thing bigger than his style on the bike was his positive impact on the sport and every person he encountered. His infectiously positive personality will be forever remembered. Our thoughts are with Jordie's family, friends, and loved ones as well as the family, friends, and loved ones of the other mountain bikers who have passed away this month.
Photo by Ale Di Lullo

Northern Hemisphere Flow Trails

With Winter Closing in, Many Flow Trails and Bike Parks Will be Hibernating Until Spring

It's that inevitable time of year when many mountain bikers in the Northern Hemisphere have already or are going to be calling "last lap" until the spring thaw. Numerous bike parks transform back into ski resorts and bike trays on the lift will be replaced with chairs for snow sliders.

For some, the winter is a time to focus on a different skillset - whether on the bike or by partaking in a different sport altogether. For those willing to travel, there are lift access trails in warmer climates and there are still a few hold-out DH worthy spots open all winter long, like Windrock, TN. For other riders, the winter is a time to rest up, heal up, fully rebuild their bikes, and be ready for the first chair come spring.
Opening's only a few long months away.

Rampage Proving Grounds Qualifiers

Proving Grounds Riders Narrowly Miss the Top Ten

The Marzocchi Proving Grounds qualifier event in September acted as a feeder event for Rampage for the first time ever. The five riders who made it into the big event faced a mountain of worries. New contestants had to find room in the already developed zone to dig new lines, and then face off with Rampage incumbents, who were riding familiar lines they had built last year.

The competition was fierce on the day of finals. Despite incredible performances, none of the five made it into the top ten which leaves them undoubtedly disappointed that they're not automatically re-qualified for next year despite having put down world-class runs. Proving Grounds winner Reed Boggs and Joyride winner Emil Johansson would score highest of the qualifiers with 80 and 79 points, respectively, with Boggs ending up in 11th, and Johansson in 12th. Let's be clear, anyone who has a clean run or is even at Rampage is already deserving of a trophy.
Rampage first timer Emil nose-bonking a small rock.
Emil Johansson's nose bonk wasn't quite enough to secure a top ten finish.


  • 187 15
 The Proving Ground riders didn't fail because they didn't make the top 10.
  • 22 3
 They're referring to the process of new riders competing on a level playing field.
  • 14 40
flag pinnityafairy (Nov 1, 2019 at 14:55) (Below Threshold)
 Agreed 110% I would like to see any of these editors hit any of the features there. That would be the definition of failure.
  • 30 3
 If anything, Proving Grounds was a success. Seeing Emil compete and Boggs getting a second chance was so worth it.
  • 50 3
 I dont really understand why PB keeps trying to make this a point. I don't think anyone believed that one of the proving grounds riders would pull a surprise win. More than anything it's an additional opportunity for worthy riders. Maybe PB should be highlighting that INVITEES finished lower than some of the proving grounds riders - that is what proves those guys were worthy. (....and that's not even touching on the fact that proving grounds was more slopestyle than rampageish)
  • 22 3
 No, they surely did not fail. They're all world-class but having to focus on re-qualification on top of Rampage itself again next year is an extra challenge and leaves them at a disadvantage. They have it a lot harder from the start than veterans of the event.
  • 4 0
 @ckcost: We're talking about a top ten to be qualified for next year, not a surprise win. And the fact it was harder for them compared to the veterans.
Proving ground was "More slopestyle than rampageish", so what? Make a rampage to qualify to rampage?
  • 9 0
 Bad month should of been Salido crashing and puncturing his spleen! Would of loved to have seen his run at rampage.
  • 1 0
 @danielsapp: Of course they didn't fail. It was totally a cheap shot and I couldn't help it. Sorry. But I did see it got changed so...
  • 64 1
 None of the other shit matters.. RiP Jord and Brook is back rolling.
  • 16 0
 100%! With the exception of Formation. I'm sure Jordie and Brook both agree, that is a good thing!
  • 26 1
 I think Formation was a massive win and worthy of more coverage. The format was nice and chilled, and the determination and skill shown by the women riders was off the scale. There is no better inspiration for my kids than that, and everyone involved should be proud. In its own little way that was one of my highlights of the year... I look forwards to it getting bigger and better!
  • 6 0
 Where can I find footage of formation? I really want to watch it
  • 5 0
 Yep came to day the same. Other than riders own instas an a PB article, I've not seen any media coverage on such a great event. I would've thought red bull would put something out.
  • 1 0

This was about the sum of the Pinkbike video coverage. They did a photo epic too, but I think that was it? A lot more was on the riders personal Instagram accounts too iirc?
  • 3 0
 This. Hope this event will continue and hopefully be expanded next year!
  • 22 0
 With her skills, Neff should destroy the competition in Tokyo. I think she is heads and shoulders above the rest as a technical rider.
  • 11 1
 and Nino now has a chance against MVDP
  • 5 0
 Hope the competition is out hammering some shuttle runs right now.
  • 3 0
 Also the fact that this and all the other test events are being held under the banner of, "Ready, Steady, Tokyo!" is a win in itself.
  • 4 4
 Could a top enduro rider have a chance? Thinking about Ravanel for example.
  • 3 1
 @fracasnoxteam: Is that a joke?
  • 2 2
 @fracasnoxteam: same answer as to folks wondering whether Nino could give Sam Hill or Jesse Melamed a run for their money on the hot lap.

Shortly: NO
  • 2 0
 @fracasnoxteam: Ravanel came from a WC XC background too. If she would put in the XC specific training again then sure she could be up there but to stand a chance you need full focus. But don't forget the XC racers who want to win here will make sure their skills are right up there too. Don't get your timing right in such a boulder section and you'll be losing a lot of time. And they know it. And they'll be working on this specifically.

I'm not closely following whether there are currently mountainbike riders who want to stand a chance at winning at the BMX olympics. It would be hard because the BMX field is really strong nowadays. But back in 2008 you had a good few of them who made it to the finals. Jared Graves, Jill Kintner and ACC come to mind. The latter two of which won a medal, Jared unfortunately got caught out in a crash. For the year leading up to the olympics, Jared and Jill quit the 4X competition (which in ways was already comparable to BMX racing) and fully focused on BMX. ACC wasn't racing mtb at the time so maybe she was also focused on BMX, I don't recall. Either way, it goes to show that if you want to do well at the olympics it is going to take your full focus. You can do well if you do well in a different discipline, but it takes a whole lot more to win.

@50percentsure : Downhill is only part of the deal. To maintain momentum over those boulders when you don't have gravity on your side is even more of a challenge and will cost you some serious time if you don't get it right. Ideally they'll work on their trials riding skills.
  • 3 0
 @vinay: Yup. For the other riders thinking technical skill training doesn't pay off, Yolanda's got the evidence right there: 1 full minute.

At an annual world champs race held locally, we figured the average difference among amateurs who trained mostly pure fitness (i.e. road) and those who focused on offroad technical skills at 7 MINUTES.
  • 5 0
 @50percentsure: nah, Langvad was beating her. MVDP beats Nino. Skill is free seconds, but it may not be enough for mega legs, lungs and heart. Then tactics and not getting a bloody flat. Kate isn’t exactly a pinner on the downs either, yet she is always a girl to beat for Jolanda and Jenny who are the best bike handlers on the circuit. I think Jenny is a bit underrated for that. I saw a video of her riding on Enduro comp in Sweden on a kind of terrain I am very familiar with and she was bloody flowing. it is not easy to look flowy here as rolling through rocks, roots and mud with little speed makes most people look like they are choking on winged dicks flying at you, or having some sort of seizure. Ugh, oigh, agh, khlog
  • 18 1
 "...have already or are going to be calling "last lap" until ..."
Never call "last lap".
  • 7 0
 This isn't being upvoted enough. "Last lap" will get you
  • 8 0
 Jordie Lunn passing was 100% a kick in the balls to the community. Seeing the Bulldog go through his rehab and get back on the bike is amazing and I aint buying into the "Proving Grounds failing" debate.......
  • 4 0
 Everyone has had that moment when someone asks, are you OK?, you quickly respond yes … Then all the sudden it’s oh shit oh shit oh shit
  • 1 0
 True that. I will never forget a car crash that I witnessed (head-on into a telephone pole outside my house). The driver was insisting she was OK and fussing about her smashed up car, how this would ruin her weekend, and demanding to be helped out of the car. She then started groaning, passed out, and was dead within minutes.
  • 5 0
 Northern hemisphere hibernating , just getting going now the dust has gone
  • 2 0
 i personally lost several inspirational people the past 2 months. Jordie i did not personally know but you can tell by the way he acts and smiles he was a good man. the world is a lesser place with him gone.
  • 9 5
 Bad year, pinkbike suporting cheating and censoring anyone with a different thoughts.
  • 6 5
 Totally drinking the tranny kool-aid
  • 5 0
 Yeah Brook!
  • 1 0
 I feel like it’s a bit odd saying proving ground riders aren’t “good” enough to make a top ten, damn those dudes can out ride a fat majority of bikers, I know they would kick my ass.
  • 1 0
 I think they will have to tweak the course before the Olympics. It has several choke points and is relatively short. Seems like a disaster waiting to happen with the typical Olympic field half-full of non-wc competitors.
  • 1 0
 The choke points will only matter on the first half of the first lap, as they will allow the handful of riders in front to make a probably insurmountable lead and make it extremely difficult for the back-half of the field to catch up. This is why it's important for MVdP to race World Cups (and Nove Mesto next year, since he skipped MTB Worlds), to make sure he has a good starting position. Recall that Sagan had a terrible starting position in 2016, had to burn a lot of matches in the beginning to get to the front. Who knows what would have happened if he had a front-row starting position and could have calmly followed Nino?

The Olympic field is typically pretty small due to the strict qualifying rules. There is a maximum of 74 riders (versus 120-140 for a typical World Cup race). Some fantastic Swiss, French, and Italians will have to sit out so that other countries can send their one rider.

I assume that they will pull lapped riders in the Olympics, like in a World Cup and World Champs, so the slower riders should not get in the way very much.
  • 4 0
 Bad month for Waki! Oh wait every month is a bad one for him/ her...
  • 1 0
 Bulldog back riding from that injury quicker than I was from a torn ligament, guys is a beast. Best of luck to him on rest of the journey and RIP Jordie
  • 3 1
 Why is pinkbike so crappy lately?
  • 5 1
 Pinkbike identifies as not crappy so you are a bigot.
  • 2 0
 Winter shminter
  • 1 0
 Never say "last lap"!

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