1. Rigid TV structure & wind still don't work well together
It was business as usual at Rampage with wind once again playing a major role in disrupting the competition. Despite shifting the event to a slightly earlier time it was not enough to allow riders to take a second run. You can't blame the organizers for the weather as that is out of their control, and even the backup weather day had a worse forecast for wind than Friday.
After the conclusion of the event, riders said that the gaps between runs were bigger than ever before. Tyler McCaul has vented his frustration on social media saying: "I wanted a second run really, really badly. I ran back up to the top ready to get redemption and when I got up there I was told there was a 30-45 minute TV break. We knew the wind was coming and I knew our window of good weather was shrinking with every minute that went by. I was pissed to be stalled out like that when I was ready to ride. I felt like it was more about the TV show and less about the riders and their riding."
It seemed that this year's big show had a far more rigid structure that appeared to be leaning more towards ESPN than the normal coverage we get from Red Bull. The strict structure of showing a computer graphic of each rider's run alongside a short video piece extended the gaps between riders, causing it to take over two hours from the start of the broadcast to Brandon Semenuk starting the last of the first runs. Most gaps stuck to around eight minutes between riders, but some extended as far as 10 minutes, all precious time when it was known the wind was coming and would end any chance of riding. Keeping a 30-40 minute break between the first and second runs seemed like an even worse decision; given that not every rider wanted a second run you may have been able to finish the event before the wind. Something definitely needs to change to make the format more adaptable for changing weather conditions.
Here is Tyler McCaul's full statement from social media:
2. Canadians & single crowns continue to rule Rampage
Brandon Semenuk brought back the return of the single crown bike to Rampage in 2021 and just a year later we see another win, this time from Brett Rheeder, against the still popular choice of dual crown bikes. Not only did we see back-to-back single crown wins but Canadian riders have now won the last seven Rampages - you have to go back to Andreu Lacondeguy's win in 2014 to see a different country for a winning rider. Rheeder hasn't placed outside the top two at the last three Rampages that he has entered (Brett missed the event in 2021). Looking at the bigger picture, Canadian riders have dominated the event since the first year with a massive 11 Rampage wins. USA riders have secured three while France and Spain tie for one win each.
Wade Simmons CANADA2002
Tyler Klassen CANADA2003
Brandon Semenuk CANADA2010
Kurt Sorge CANADA2013
Kurt Sorge CANADA2016
Brandon Semenuk CANADA2017
Kurt Sorge CANADA2018
Brett Rheeder CANADA2019
Brandon Semenuk CANADA2021
Brandon Semenuk CANADA2022
Brett Rheeder CANADA
3. The first grind at Rampage
Despite the wind issues in finals we did get to see plenty of creative lines including a sneaky grind from Dylan Stark. Offering something different from the other riders, Dylan Stark brought in influence from outside of mountain biking for his run with a wild grind to drop near the end of his run. To keep this trick a secret until finals and to make sure no one would stop him, Dylan's dig team dug a hole next to the takeoff and buried the rail the night before finals. The dig team then had to quickly dig it and get everything set as Dylan was making his way down his line. Now it has been done once we will be interested to see if Dylan or anyone else pulls something unique out at the last minute in the future.
4. Judging Needs Reworking
Ignoring the wind and the production structure one thing that continues to not work for Rampage is the live judging. Putting aside everyone's own opinions about what a winning Rampage run should be, it's clearer with each year that both fans and competitors are getting more frustrated at the current method of scoring runs.
It's hard to see one obvious solution, and even slopestyle competitions often have similar issues, but maybe we need to hold the judges' scores until they have seen every run then they can better order them after seeing what everyone has to offer? Then they can adjust based on what riders can add for the second runs and score after each rider as they do now. If they don't want to completely shake things up, then I think just a short comment from judges could help provide a reason why one run scores higher or lower than another. There is already a camera in the judge's, booth so why not add a mic in there for a quick response about each score?
5. Szymon Godziek's run was the clear fan favourite
As we found in our poll
, everyone had strong opinions on who they thought should have placed higher. But one person who seemed to top out the voting was Szymon Godziek who secured nearly 900 more votes than Brett Rheeder on who deserved to win the event. Szymon was also sitting in second place for his actual result of 2nd and stormed to the top of the best trick polling with 1906 votes. Luckily we don't have to imagine how big a second run could have been for Szymon as he put everything on the line in his first run and seemed pretty happy at the bottom of the hill with some of the huge moves he was able to fit in on the way down the line.