Practice Photo Epic: Proving Grounds 2021

Sep 10, 2021
by Trevor Lyden  

BMX crossover Dylan Stark was the first rider brave enough to send the Five Ten mega shark fin.
Photo Recap
DUSTING OFF THE COBWEBS
Proving Grounds 2021 - First Look

Words & Photography by Trevor Lyden and James Stokoe
Dylan Stark was the only rider brave enough to tackle the huge shark fin on day one.

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.

2021 new and improved Proving Grounds.
2021 new and improved Proving Grounds.

Todd Barber representing the event while telling the athletes to act their age...
Todd Barber representing the event while telling the athletes to act their age...

Riders meeting and group kumbaya.
Riders meeting and group kumbaya.
Riders meeting - Johnny pay attention and stop looking at E-Boy s new shoes.
Riders meeting - Johnny pay attention and stop looking at E-Boy's new shoes.

Cam Zink pulled the number 1 plate. If you ain t first you re last.
Cam Zink pulled the number 1 plate. If you ain't first you're last.

Who doesn t like dogs Seriously.
Who doesn't like dogs? Seriously.

It was good to be back with all the boys.
It was good to be back with all the boys.
Reed Boggs and water truck driver extraordinaire Chaddy Witcz.
Reed Boggs and water truck driver extraordinaire Chaddy Witcz.

Ming Goetz surveying the land.
Ming Goetz surveying the land.

Paul scoping the lines.
Paul scoping the lines.

Give Ethan Nell a pit bike and he s never not smiling.
Give Ethan Nell a pit bike and he's never not smiling.

Jonny Salido was the first one to drop in on the top of the course for 2021.
Jonny Salido was the first one to drop in on the top of the course for 2021.

Johnny was eager to get as many practice runs in before the winds picked up and the smoke got any worse.
Johnny was eager to get as many practice runs in before the winds picked up and the smoke got any worse.

Damon Iwanaga dropping in on yet another new feature of the year.
Damon Iwanaga dropping in on yet another new feature of the year.

Reed didn t mess around 3rd hit on the lipped drop and he s taking some time to look back at where he s come from.
Reed didn't mess around, 3rd hit on the lipped drop and he's taking some time to look back at where he's come from.

Red Bull athletes Harriet Burbridge-Smith and Carson Storch sharing line beta.
Red Bull athletes Harriet Burbridge-Smith and Carson Storch sharing line beta.

Dylan Stark had a different approach to his first practice run through the course today If I look at it it ll scare me I m just gonna hit it. And he sure did. Stark is a madman.
Dylan Stark had a different approach to his first practice run through the course today: "If I look at it, it'll scare me, I'm just gonna hit it." And he sure did. Stark is a madman.

DJ Brandt testing the newly added on-off feature.
DJ Brandt testing the newly added on-off feature.

Big Rik offing on the On-Off feature.
Big Rik offing on the On-Off feature.

Johnny was one of the first to drop the largest drop on course he did it perfectly. No surprise there.
Johnny was one of the first to drop the largest drop on course, he did it perfectly. No surprise there.

Carson took one speed check run-up to the drop then said hold ma beer.
Carson took one speed check run-up to the drop, then said, "hold ma beer."

Jam session on the lower jump feature.
Jam session on the lower jump feature.
The first practice day is all about getting the feel of things sometimes that includes a few close calls.
The first practice day is all about getting the feel of things, sometimes that includes a few close calls.

Reed just heard that it was lunchtime so he takes the quickest way down.
Reed just heard that it was lunchtime, so he takes the quickest way down.

Local ripper Ryan McNulty showing that he can hang with the big names.
Local ripper Ryan McNulty showing that he can hang with the big names.

Look Ma No hands Reed Boggs showing us how big the last fish he caught was.
Look Ma! No hands!! Reed Boggs showing us how big the last fish he caught was.

And Ryan kept saying his fish was way bigger than Boggsy s.
And Ryan kept saying his fish was way bigger than Boggsy's.

Jonny getting extended.
Jonny getting extended.
Johnny showing us how high he can kick.
Johnny showing us how high he can kick.

Paul Genovese spreading his wings.
Paul Genovese spreading his wings.

Jaxon Riddle wanting a cover shot with that big spread.
Jaxon Riddle wanting a cover shot with that big spread.

Even Jaxon s shadow has a stupid amount of style.
Even Jaxon's shadow has a stupid amount of style.

Carson s flat spin 360s are becoming a trademark for him.
Carson's flat spin 360s are becoming a trademark for him.

Carson showing the wee lad with the i-phone his butt.
Carson showing the wee lad with the i-phone his butt.

This kid really liked taking pictures of Carson on his i-phone...and this photographer really liked taking pictures of this happening.
This kid really liked taking pictures of Carson on his i-phone...and this photographer really liked taking pictures of this happening.

The comradery between the contestants is what makes events like Proving Grounds so special - it s about helping each other out and bettering one another through support. Long live freeride.
The comradery between the contestants is what makes events like Proving Grounds so special - it's about helping each other out and bettering one another through support. Long live freeride.

Hannah Bergemann feeling good after a successful previous week of her women s big air event.
Hannah Bergemann feeling good after a successful previous week of her women's big air event.

Harriet making light work of the HUGE trick jump at the bottom of the course.
Harriet making light work of the HUGE trick jump at the bottom of the course.

The last year this event was held in 2019 this fella walked away with first place - with the way Boggsy was riding in practice he s a force to be reckoned with.
The last year this event was held, in 2019, this fella walked away with first place - with the way Boggsy was riding in practice, he's a force to be reckoned with.

Dylan and his Pit Viper PJ s. Stark is definitely one to watch and a super nice lad to boot too.
Dylan and his Pit Viper PJ's. Stark is definitely one to watch, and a super nice lad to boot too.

Ryan is a local ripper from Bend Oregon - big smiles and ripping style.
Ryan is a local ripper from Bend, Oregon - big smiles and ripping style.
Ryan just playing bikes because why the hell not.
Ryan just playing bikes because, why the hell not.

Carson was making the most of the small weather gap in the afternoon.
Carson was making the most of the small weather gap in the afternoon.

Construction of the finish corral was still going on during the first day of practice. Just your typical construction project one dude doing all the work when everyone else watches providing tips.
Construction of the finish corral was still going on during the first day of practice. Just your typical construction project; one dude doing all the work when everyone else watches, providing tips.

Randy Spangler is sure damn happy that it s raining. Even if he had to dodge a few lightning strikes.
Randy Spangler is sure damn happy that it's raining. Even if he had to dodge a few lightning strikes.



36 Comments

  • 25 0
 Dylan Stark for a top 5??
  • 1 0
 "Ride The Lightning, bro!"
  • 2 0
 If he can keep from cratering I think top 5, even top 3 for Dylan. Guy has been on a tear lately.

Just that cratering thing, guy likes to hit it hard. Let's just hope what he hit's isn't the ground.

Huge fan of @whoisdylan.
  • 11 0
 Dylan Stark on the podium 100%
  • 12 0
 Dylan Stark is my hero!
  • 8 0
 More Dylan Stark, less mtb robots.
  • 7 0
 Hell yeah get it Dylan!!!!
  • 7 1
 Holy Tolido its Johny Salido!!!
  • 2 0
 Holy tolido what bike is he riding???
  • 1 0
 @nug12182: Transition Patrol with a dual crown.
  • 6 0
 That Spangler pic is pure gold
  • 6 0
 GO Dylan!!!! such sick style.
  • 5 0
 Dylan stark for the win! Dude can ride anything!
  • 2 0
 Hopefully it doesn't get wind blown and rained out like the last one. That soil does some weird stuff in the rain. It's not necessarily a good thing it's raining.
  • 1 0
 I didnt read where it was but knew it was west of the CAscades in Oregon. My rich ex gfs parants had a mansion out there that would be inhereted to her . Oh man did I fuck up.. Beer pinking
  • 2 0
 Salido still rides for Transition right??? If he does then what bike is that he's on?
  • 1 0
 It's the new patrol with a double crown
  • 2 0
 I got distracted by the hottie in black and white..more than once..I’ll have to to admit
  • 2 0
 Photo by-lines were on point here
  • 2 0
 the wee lad is there for more then seeing them ride bikes
  • 2 0
 alright, ive seen em whip, now i wanna see them nae nae :cool:
  • 2 0
 Looks like an awesome event. That huge wallride shark Fin is amazing.
  • 1 1
 Two photos of women riding, 3 with any women in them. Maybe try to at least pretend that you guys give a shit about prioritizing representation......
  • 1 0
 Ricky lookin sick on the demo.. that paint job is fire
  • 2 0
 It's raining!
  • 1 0
 Classic!
  • 2 0
 Great photos!
  • 1 0
 maybe a typo? : shouldn't it be Johny Salido instead of Jonny Salido?
  • 1 0
 Randy lives!!!
  • 1 0
 Fark yeah HAZ
  • 1 0
 Bigly
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