When I left Audi Nines last year, I would have been hard-pressed to have thought of a way the crew could improve the event, but the organisers went even bigger for this year's edition. Back in the quarry in Birkenfeld, Germany for the fourth year running, Sam Reynolds and Clemens Kaudela were busy in the weeks prior to the event crafting this year's course which included a Freeride, Slopestyle, Big Air and a whole new Jam line.
From the first day on site, it was clear to see that the organisers were committed to communicating with riders, including the women who were making their debut at the event, wanting as much feedback as possible to make sure that the event was setup the best it could be. This open conversation and collaboration with the riders is one of the many things that makes Audi Nines such an amazing event for everyone involved. The Audi Nines team spent a lot of time getting feedback from the women on what sort of features they’d like to ride at the event. The outcome? The warm-up “Jam” line which sees one drop, two juicy hips, an over/under berm jump feature rolling into an amazing step-up trick jump which kept all riders entertained day in, day out.
What a debut it was for women at Audi Nines, with BMX'er Caroline Buchanan landing the world's first women’s front flip to dirt and freeride newcomer Robin Goomes sending and nailing a Backflip Can on day 1. It was clear to see how eager and excited the riders were this year, arriving on Monday and hitting the Jam line straight away in the evening before the event had even really begun set the pace and vibe for the week.
This year's edition also saw the most variety in riders both in disciplines and age. From 8-time BMX World Champion Caroline Buchanan to freeracers such as Brendan Fairclough, freeride legend Casey Brown and slopestyle hero Emil Johansson. The women also provided us with the widest range of ages, from Germany's Patricia Druwen who was just 14 years old and a sponge to everything going on around her, soaking in all the knowledge and experience from the talented mix of riders at the event, to the UK’s Joey Gough, who at 40 has been styling it since the 80’s with a lot of experience under her belt from BMX and 4X racing, discovering dirt jumps in the early 2000's.
Endless smiles all week long
After a morning warming up on the Jam line, riders dispersed to session the lines they had been eyeing up and the women’s attention turned to the first couple of features on the Slopestyle line, namely the drop and the hip. As the girls dropped in and did a few run-ups to the ramp, the excited nervousness was getting stronger, knowing that someone, very soon was about to drop in and hit it for the first time. Then, seemingly out of nowhere as the others were still eyeing up the takeoff, Joey Gough dropped in and hits it perfectly first time, also sending the boner log straight after the hip. Filled with the rush of adrenaline, Joey said:
Alma getting some last minute tips before dropping in for a backflip
Big Air provided a lot of opportunities for endless trick combo trains
Vero's no-hander to crank flip
The Freeride line was for big sends only
Both bikes and bodies are put through the ringer at Audi Nines
Audi Nines is a playground for riders, and playgrounds breed creativity and progression, so it’s no surprise that world-first tricks get thrown down year after year. This year we were treated to four new sends with Caroline Buchanans first women’s front flip to dirt, Sam Hodgson's backflip superman to tail whip, Elias Ruso’s Frontflip heel-clicker on a DH bike and Emil Johansson's 360 double downside whip to bar.
To finish off the week, the riders and crew gather for Gala Night to celebrate, watch the sick edits that the filmers have been working on, and hand out the awards to the riders. It's no surprise that Spanish rider Gemma Corbera took the win for the Savage Award after her mighty crash on Big Air, but it's not just having a crash that qualifies someone for such an award, but their commitment, determination and passion for the sport. Despite a night in hospital, Gemma was back as soon as she could to support all the other riders, albeit with some FOMO herself. Caroline Buchanan took the award for best trick after landing the world's first women's frontflip to dirt, Veronique Sandler won the Best Style award, because, well, she's endlessly steezy, and Robin Goomes won the Ruler of the Week award for her no holds barred attitude to hitting everything and anything.
In the guys categories, Bienve Aguado was awarded the Best Freeride Line, with his endless flips and passion for the big jumps. To no surprise, Emil Johansson won the Best Slopestyle Line Award, with his perfect execution and world-first tricks, he is one of the most satisfying riders to watch on course. Isle Of Wight's Sam Hodgson got Best Slopestyle Trick for his Backflip Superman to Late Whip, and Elias Ruso got the award for best freeride trick with his worlds first frontflip heel clicker on a DH bike. Erik Fedko took the award for Best Style, and Daniel Ruso claimed Ruler of the Week for being consistently sendy, stylish and passionate. Whilst there are awards, Audi Nines is not a competition, the event is about providing a space for these riders to thrive, and this year with the addition of the women, the rate of progression from everyone supersedes anything Audi Nines has seen previously.
Including the women in the event has been a long time coming, and whilst the girls themselves were nervous before turning up with not knowing what to expect and unaware of just how welcoming the Audi Nines family is, by the end of the first day the atmosphere on site was warm, welcoming and it felt whole. The men and women coming together to do what they love was the missing piece of the puzzle that has taken Audi Nines to the next level. I'd like to say a special thank you to the organisers for making this event happen, especially as we are still dealing with Covid regulations, and a special thank you to Sophie Acworth who is the one responsible for bringing such an amazing array of women together to make this THE best Audi Nines to date.
Peace out Audi Nines, you da best!