The boys (and girls) are back in town! After a two-year hiatus Proving Grounds is back in action in the high desert of Central Oregon. The course is better than ever with Kyle Jameson and his Black Sage Dirtworks crew adding a multitude of new features. This year introduces us to a new line right off the top which features wooden cannon dropping into a massive right berm. Further down the course you'll notice a new on-off gap and the absolutely insane wallride to gap shark fin. All lines converge towards the bottom and lead riders into the megalodon. This finishing jump was redesigned to be bigger and better than before and sends the athletes to the stratosphere.
As with everything the past couple of years, Covid dictated who could make it into the country and unfortunately, some of the riders we all hoped to see weren't able to make the trek across the pond. The good news however is that we still have a stacked field of some huge men's names in freeride such as Cam Zink, Nicholai Rogatkin, Ethan Nell and many more. Local (and beyond) legend Carson Storch is on hand to throw down and local up-and-comer Ryan McNulty is here to show he can hang. The women's field is looking stacked as well with longtime Red Bull athlete Hannah Bergemann being joined by new Red Bull rider Harriet Burbridge-Smith. Alongside them, we have Camila Noguiera, Sam Soriano and two younger rippers Ming Goetz and Brook Anderson.
Despite having new courses and eager riders the weather proved to be a challenge on day one. Central Oregon has been blanketed in a thick layer of smoke recently and that hampered visibility and created winds that were troubling for many of the larger features. Riders took many breaks to wait out the gusts and got on course when they felt a lull. After the wind subsided for the afternoon mother nature decided to throw us another curveball and bring heavy rain and thunderstorm into the area. After lightning strikes progressively getting closer to the event site the practice was called off in the early evening so that athletes and staff could avoid any shocking surprises. Lots more action to be held the rest of the weekend with a jump jam Friday night and the main event on Saturday.