Photo Epic: Formation Ride Day - Women's Freeride Progression Sessions

Oct 14, 2019 at 17:21
by Brian Park  



It was so impressive to see the transformation over the course of the week. On the first day out there, I had serious jitters because I could sense a lot of doubt from the riders for being able to ride and piece something together. That's why this place is one of a kind. It is different, it is hard to read, it's blind, it's exposed. The dirt feels different. You can’t come here first time around with an ego because it will bite back. I picked these six girls because they exemplified what I thought it took to excel out here. They are powerful yet graceful, calculated yet daring. They are confident, but not overly so. They are well spoken, thoughtful and sponge-like. They are in a position in their careers where they are leaders and have influence. They embody what it is to be a professional athlete.

You could have cut the tension with knife on Saturday morning. You could feel the nervous energy so strongly. When we arrived at the venue, everyone was putting pads and gear on and all the sudden, we look up the hill and Hannah is dropping the big double drop within 30 minutes of arriving. Once Hannah did that, it was on. There was a real energy shift and excitement in the air. It is hard to imagine better firestarter for the day.

There were essentially 2.5 lines built. There was the party ridge which had Vero, Vaea, Vinny, and Tahnee. Gatto and Hannah each had separate drop ins and converged mid way down. The two of them also went and scratched in some existing old raw lines and rode those.

Over the course of the weekend, there was a lot of riding and sessions and then Sunday afternoon, each rider got individual top to bottom runs with all eyes and cameras on them. Darren, the Rampage starter, even counted them down... "Seagrave 3, 2, 1..."

The first thing to come out of Tahnee's mouth after riding the party ridge for the first time was "that felt so small, we could have gone so much bigger." They are all keen to come back and push it even more.

One of my major goals for the week is that everyone would be safe. It was particularly impressive to me that not one girl crashed or even looked sketchy. I knew I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of this group or wonder if they were truly calculated, but crashes still happen. So to have them out there right up against their comfort zone and to see them rise to to occasion like that was so incredibly impressive. To me it all just feels kinda obvious, of course they could hold their own and rip it up out there, they are professional athletes who are among the best in the world at what they do.

And finally, this whole experience and execution was such a massive team effort. Everyone pulled their weight and contributed to the overall success. It felt like we were building a puzzle and everyone was a piece of that puzzle. From the riders and diggers, Rebecca Rusch, Jill Kintner, Michelle Parker & Tarah Geiger, everyone at Red Bull, the Red Bull community leaders, Todd Barber, Lisa Lefroy & the H5 crew, the Originate crew, the Stellar media crew, Paris Gore & Katie Lozancich, the medical crew & Ginger the physio, Larry Pugh, Erin Seely and her cooking crew, so many incredible people! Thank you to everyone!



Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Morning meeting, time to ride.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Lots of hike-a-bike.
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Micayla Gatto dropping in under the watchful eye of Vaea Verbeeck.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Micayla committed to her drop in from the top, and rode so strong.
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Keeping the dust down.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Hannah Bergemann's riding is no surprise to Bellingham locals.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Hannah was driving the ship out there. She rode more than anyone and rode everything.
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Seeking shade.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Vaea Verbeeck looked pinned out there.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Vaea oozed style and grace on everything.
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Wind check.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Tahnee Seagrave brought World Cup pace and style.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
She literally looked like she was doing a race run down the venue, it was so fast and impressive.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Veronique Sandler was having the best time out there in typical, playful Vero style. She is so fun to watch as she just plays.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Vinny Armstrong absolutely crushed it.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Huge whips from Vinny all week.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
And that's a wrap.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
The 2019 Foundation riders: Vero, Micayla, Hannah, Vinny, Vaea, & Tahnee.

Photo by Paris Gore Red Bull
Shout out to everyone who helped make this event happen. See you next year!



97 Comments

  • 105 1
 Katie, Thank you for the crazy amount of time and energy you put into this. It was really fun to watch it all come together. Mostly though, thanks for providing a forum for learning and experience for this set of women. There are so many more out there that are capable and eager to push their limits and now this seed has really been planted.

Congrats to all the ladies out there riding, digging, helping, and thanks to everyone mentioned above for their vision and support for this. Lastly- F&ck Yeah to Hannah B! You are a boss and the world is going to be stoked watching you shine!
  • 19 0
 +1 for Hannah, she's always been a monster but she's on some next level shiiiiiiiii this year. Can't wait to see where she goes from here.

Gatto's drop in looks WILD, too
  • 4 0
 Just an amazing event - I can't get enough of this - shame there wasn't a consistent instagram tag, but no matter - I can go to each rider's page. Hope we get some full run videos soon!
  • 63 0
 I wish there was more coverage of this event...
  • 4 0
 Vinny.... teach me your ways..... you're side-ways
  • 48 2
 I just had a daughter a few months ago. The future looks bright.
  • 41 6
 You sure it wasn't your wife/girlfriend?
  • 2 2
 @oscartheballer: hahaha bloody good
  • 3 2
 Had does not equal birthed
  • 39 0
 Seeing how well this went, hopefully it can be expanded to a bigger event going forward.
  • 2 9
flag dirt2g (Oct 17, 2019 at 1:23) (Below Threshold)
 I would mix genders in such an event, even though we'd probably see always more males. Freeride is all about extension, skills and style, and line choice. Female riders tend to not be as engaged in lines and tricks, however in extension and style they have it all. That doesn't mean they should'nt compete with males, they have serious chances of doing results (more than in racing).

However, doing an rampage juste for female riders wouldn't be bad either, but might not be as stimulating for them to improve the female freeriding scene.
  • 30 0
 This makes me want to go ride! Well done everyone!
  • 27 4
 Great job to Katie Holden for pushing the idea with RedBull (and Rebecca Rusch for starting the conversation)...let's keep supporting riders that shred no matter their sexual orientation! Thanks PinkBike for sharing the story!!!
  • 28 0
 what does sexual orientation have to do with this event?
  • 32 0
 I think you are confused about what sexual orientation means.
  • 16 0
 @savagelake: must identify as a hucker
  • 5 0
 @Yaan: Ehhhh eeeeyaaahhh. Mother huckers also welcome.
  • 20 0
 Hope to see more of this.
  • 17 0
 I can't wait to continue watching this event progress. Seeing women excel and seek challenges that push their comfort zone is inspiring and motivating to women throughout the cycling community.
  • 14 0
 Hm... Shredding serious terrain without slopestyle tricks... Maybe these ladies are the hope to bringing back the old school Rampage progression of raw lines. Awesome to see this! Looking forward to more coverage in the future.
  • 14 0
 Such an awesome idea and super stoked the ladies rose to the occasion and pushed themselves! This makes me so proud to be part of the larger MTB community, maybe some live or delayed TV coverage next year?
  • 13 0
 Yes! This event is so incredibly inspirational! Way to go Katie and all the women who absolutely crushed it!
  • 10 0
 Great to see stuff like this happening for the girls but where are all the photos of Vero ?! Seemed like you guys did a little photo profile for each rider but hers was just one shot. Looked like she was ripping it out there from some of the footage I have seen on the 'gram' would have been cool to have had more stills of the girl in this article.
  • 12 0
 YAASSSS ladies!!! This is the most inspiring event in women's cycling since.....well, ever.
  • 11 0
 This is rad. Way more of this. Good job, ladies!!
  • 10 0
 Damn, this is such a huge step in the progression of female freeride! Next year should be epic!
  • 9 0
 Great stuff, ladies, give us more of this! And kick your sponsors to further push your and other women's limits!
  • 10 1
 Did anyone just hear a glass ceiling break? The shout outs are a list of inspiring people. Sick riding! That whip!!!
  • 4 0
 Yup. Looks like an amazing event....this will change things up for sure. Well done to riders / organizers and photogs.
  • 7 0
 great shots! the pics from rampage are usually so far away (i assume to show scale), that u can't see the actual line riders are hitting. this makes it look extra gnarly.
  • 1 3
 I think its also because alot of the lines that the men ride in Rampage are difficult for a photographer to get close too. The lines are just so steep and exposed that there just isn't anywhere for a photographer to stand that close to the line.
  • 5 0
 This is just simply amazing. As a 46 yr old mountain biker that never learned to do this stuff it inspires me to learn a bit more and push myself. Very inspiring for all women to see. And I love the pictures of the men pushing the women's bikes. Teamwork!
  • 4 0
 There's 40+ year old female riders competing in the women's fmb event! They hit big shit!
  • 8 0
 This is so awesome and gnarly! These women are inspirational AF!
  • 6 0
 Now... how can we get in? I want to ride there so bad! I hope next year it will be a bigger gathering!!
  • 5 0
 If you keep riding your bike like in your gallery pictures then I believe you have every chance earning a spot. tup
  • 5 0
 @Dropthedebt: well spotted, that's some solid riding rideuse67!
  • 3 0
 I don't think there's anything wrong with people asking about the invited riders, guys do it all the time too, but girls are just defensive about their decisions. I've been thinking my dream team 6. It would be Vero Sandler, Hannah Bergman, Casey Brown (these 2 need more tricks), Vaea, Stephanie Nychka and probably Vinny. Then you'd have a sampling of solid all-around freeride, dh, and slopestyle riders and maybe make things more open to diverse riders in the future.
  • 3 0
 Yes! I'm sure Stephanie would have been invited, was she? She came into our store in Portland this summer and BORROWED a big bike to hit Post Canyon. She and Hannah are the only girls to have ridden the new egg drop plus she threw tricks on a bike she'd never ridden on the huge MX jumps. Blew us all away. I will never have that kind of skill.
  • 6 0
 So awesome to see! Keep it going!
  • 7 0
 Very cool ladies!
  • 5 0
 Amazing event, really happy to see this happen! More of such stuff please Smile
  • 6 0
 Why no multiple of shots of Vero? She's the most stylish rider out there!
  • 7 0
 Props girls! Great job.
  • 6 0
 No video?
  • 5 0
 WOW ...serious SHREDDERS!!
  • 3 0
 This is soo awesome. Amazing photo's to boot. These riders are so freaking skillful, I'd happily take 5% of their skills to the trails.
  • 4 0
 This is awesome! Nice one girls.
  • 6 6
 In 2030 we will look back at this venue and ask ourselves, when did the first girl win rampage?
So glad for the girls to start closing the gender gap.
We should not discuss if girls should attend or being invited to such events, as it should be the most natural thing.
  • 3 4
 Let's start with equal coverage and prize money
  • 5 1
 Who's the topless gal in the 2nd photo?
  • 4 0
 Amazing pictures and amazing Women.
  • 4 0
 Video?
  • 3 0
 Would really like to see video footage of this. Any plans to release it?
  • 2 0
 So damn inspiring! Great photos of what looks like a really great experience!
  • 3 0
 Shred like a girl!
  • 3 0
 We need more of this!
  • 3 0
 Awesome stoke!
  • 2 1
 These girls look like guys while riding, which is a compliment. I would piss myself, no doubt.
  • 1 0
 These women are amazing!!! But why does everyone refer to them as girls?? As far as I know they are all well past age 18.
  • 13 16
 Does anyone else find that some of the strongest riders are missing? My girlfriends lives in Squamish are apparently everyone involved were Holden's friends. I know and watch a lot of women who could not only ride that stuff but probably trick it all too.
  • 12 17
flag reneek (Oct 16, 2019 at 11:01) (Below Threshold)
 Welcome to the mountain bike industry... skills don't matter, just your social media does. I love following Micayla Gatto, but what was she doing there?! I watched this stuff studiously and aside from a couple most were out of their element. It's bullshit.
  • 7 11
flag kmarmandy (Oct 16, 2019 at 11:09) (Below Threshold)
 @reneek: she's hardly the first perosn in the mtb industry to be self-serving. But I have to admit, if I could have been dating one of them (or been their brother) it looks like I would have had a free ride to Rampage too. And have it all paid for by Red Bull. Not a bad deal.
  • 20 0
 It makes sense to have this event held with people who know each other, have Red Bull connections and/or a high social media profile. That is the best way to get the content exposure we are all seeing & reading. Each and everyone of these women absolutely deserve to be there based on their riding alone. Yes there may well be other women out there riding and tricking stuff bigger who believe they could also be there on merit, we have member of our group who goes bigger than all of the guys, and their time will come if the hard work & effort is put in. This is the women's riding community showing they are just as capable, just as brave & have the skills to ride this shit.
I say Chapeau ladies. tup Beer
  • 63 4
 A lot of people have question why I chose these six. I have been embedded in the scene for the past 10 years out here studying the process, the success and the failures because I wanted it for myself for a long time. I knew if I wanted to make it, I had to be a student of it and figure out. And at the end of the day I didn’t have what it took but I have a deep understanding of the process.

I think it’s easy for people to confuse/blur slopestyle with Red Bull Rampage. They are two verrrry different things. To be totally honest, most of the slopestyle guys who have shown up to Rampage have looked totally out of their element and sketchy for a couple of years until they found their bearings. Brett Rheeder included - he was totally out of his element the first couple of years but became a student of it and eventually won it last year.

On the women’s side right now, yes we have women who can throw tricks but there isn’t anyone that is consistently throwing them on big bikes AND embody all of the technical precision (bike handling, balance, breaking, mental focus, fitness etc). So if you are going to pick, you are going to pick girls that embody all the technical skills which will truly let them shine out there - and keep them safe. All of these girls are insane technically. The tricks will come, that what development is for. Now that the fire is burning, I think we will see a lot of girls step it up and make their mark because there is a place for them - that is what I wanted to do. Formation is in Year 0, we are just getting started.

On another note, the chemistry and dynamics of the group were an important component of this. It was vital to have a group that meshed and supported each other. It is like picking a team - you need a variety of people that are each going to bring something different to the table. You are not going to pick all forwards, defenders or goalies - you need balance. I picked this team because I think it embodied the qualities we needed in a group to bust the door open.

And just to add to this, I did not pick these girls because they were my friends, half of them I have never had a conversation with before I started this project, I just knew they were the right people.

And one note to add about Gatto, I think that most people forget how incredible of a rider Gatto actually is because she has spent much of the last few years in front of the camera and most people now think of her as more of an influencer these days. But Gatto is damn impressive on a bike, she raced internationally since she was a kid, she is a multi-time Canadian National Champion in DH, has podiumed at World Cups, she has ridden some of the gnarliest things I have seen anyone ride - the persona and global influence is a result of her hard work, creativity and years of dedication on the bike. Her free spirit combined with her skills lend herself to freeride, there has just never been an avenue to pursue that for women.

I just want to reiterate that this is Year 0, we are just getting started. If there are people you think are leading the charge and making their mark, I want to know about them!
  • 13 0
 @reneek: it looks like she more than held her own out there, did you even looks at the content?
  • 14 0
 @KatieHolden: Incredible job and you don't need to justify why/who you brought into this event on year 1 (or year 0 as you called it). I'd say having no major crashes or injuries on such a gnarly zone is proof that you selected the right 6 ladies and it was a huge success! All the ladies were shredding and holding their own at the old Rampage site...WOW! Super glad to see Jilly lending a hand and Hannah B absolutely crushing it...but we already know that! Smile Incredible shots, @parisgore!
  • 14 0
 @KatieHolden: + 1 on Gatto. She's every bit as deserving as anyone else out there.
  • 4 4
 @kmarmandy: I'm sure she had very good reasons to want to align herself with those girls, wouldn't you? I call it squad goals, you call it a clique, It's just shady AF. But she has a point: Slopestyle riders are not freeriders and vice versa, even though you never brought up slopestyle, maybe she misread. Casey Brown entered a slopestyle competition and only got 7th place But she was the only girl at Proving Grounds and she broke herself off so I don't even know my argument anymore. There's a lot of girls that she should have done more research into.
  • 6 0
 instead of dumping on the ladies who did participate (and kicked more ass than any of us commenters could), why not list some of the female riders u say would do even better? this would be a good place for exposure.
  • 6 2
 @savagelake: Of course if Casey Brown wasn't injured, I think we would have seen some big things out of her.

For other riders that could have been in this event. Chelsea Kimball. @chealseasendsit on instagram.

She lives in Virgin half the year for the last few years and has hit some of the biggest drops I've ever seen by a women, much bigger than anything pictured here.
  • 3 0
 @osomtbr: yes Chelsea Kimball! I add her to my list too. I just wrote my dream team is: Vero Sandler, Hannah Bergman, Casey Brown (these 2 need more tricks), Vaea, Stephanie Nychka and probably Vinny. But I'd put Chelsea in there too.
  • 2 0
 @dirtsie: I also might throw @kayleegibb into the mix. She has flipped her big bike on a few of the jumps at the old rampage site. Some of the jumps featured in this event.
  • 3 1
 R.A.D. to the M.A.X.
  • 2 0
 Are you not entertained!
  • 2 0
 No Casey Brown??
  • 2 0
 She is injured. She had a crash at Proving Grounds, her shoulder won't let her ride.
  • 2 0
 @Rideuse67: But she was there, just not riding
  • 2 0
 She's in the last photo, look for her signature barefeet
  • 2 0
 History.
  • 2 0
 RAD!!!
  • 1 0
 Can’t wait for the first female rampage!!
  • 2 1
 Wife material...FACT!
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