Full Film: The Search for the Next Proving Grounds

Nov 29, 2023 at 14:33
by Outside Online  


The Search for the Next Proving Grounds
Produced by Natural Selection
Directed by Jeremy Grant
Photography by Neil Kerr

Searching the globe for a location with terrain that can launch the sport of mountain bike freeriding to the next level, Natural Selection Proving Grounds honed in on the South Island of New Zealand. With the help of freerider Carson Storch, 22 possible locations were narrowed down to three venues with limitless potential, but it was still impossible to choose one.

Photo Proving Grounds
Brett Rheeder sampling some natural terrain.

Photo Proving Grounds
No shortage of airmiles logged.

So, Proving Grounds and Storch called in five of the best freeriders in the world to decide which of the three locations’ terrain would best propel the future of freeriding, allow riders’ creativity to shine on natural terrain, and ultimately inspire more up-and-coming riders to grow the sport. Reed Boggs, Casey Brown, Robin Goomes, Brett Rheeder and Carson Storch took every aspect into consideration and got their bikes out to sample the dirt.

Photo Proving Grounds
The crew on the hunt.

But with three seemingly perfect locations to choose from on the South Island, the riders were torn. Weighing the more dynamic, natural terrain features in a venue above Queenstown, against the long term community benefits of a venue that could be ridden by the public in the Wānaka area, they had to make a choice. Find out where the riders landed in “Search for the Next Proving Grounds” directed by Jeremy Grant, streaming now on Outside Watch.

Photo Proving Grounds


Author Info:
outsideonline avatar

Member since Aug 7, 2019
73 articles

36 Comments
  • 65 10
 Hot take: the podium finishers at rampage from the previous year should be automatically qualified for next year. Everyone else has to qualify through proving grounds events. That way we can finally move on from the good old boys club, and get riders to Rampage who actually deserve to be there.
  • 18 12
 The world itself functions around the good ol boys club. Politics, wealth, religion, you name it. I think it’s a human thing.
  • 22 10
 Another hot take: That would just create TWO events where the old boys get freebie points for being friends with the judges instead of just one event.
  • 2 3
 I agree, we need to get some new faces at rampage. I think it is great to have rampage with a variety of different types of riders.

A likely result from making proving grounds a qualifier event for rampage, is it might make rampage more about tricks and less about tech sketchy lines. Proving ground courses (so far) are pre-built and are much more groomed than rampage, so tricks probably play a much bigger role in the scores. The people who do best at proving grounds are doing the best tricks. People who are best at sketchy tech lines likely won't do well at proving grounds and thus won't get to rampage. I don't think we'd ever see someone like Brendog again in rampage if that was done.

However, the terrain at some of the NZ spots in the video might be sketchy enough to work as a qualifier for rampage- so maybe it could work. Another option is to just hold a qualifier event at a previous rampage site. But I'm not sure this is best either. When Clemens Kaudela released his "The Minister" this year with that monster step down, I wasn't against giving him an automatic invite and not make him go through a qualifying event.

What about the that guy Danny Mac who hit and stomped Brage's huge drop? He should get an invite.
  • 31 2
 At the risk of being a math scold, I must point out what's wrong here: "22 possible locations were narrowed down to three venues with limitless potential, but it was still impossible to choose one" If you add one to infinity, then it's still infinity, so by definition if you have three venues with limitless, i.e. infinite potential, they can't be ranked, because whatever you do, the potentials will still be infinite and therefore equal, They should probably resort to secondary metrics like which venue has the best bathrooms.
  • 9 0
 You started to lose me in the middle there, but I'm glad I stuck around till the end.
  • 2 0
 I must point out that you still got the point Smile
  • 1 1
 I dig what you're trying to do here, but i think one snag here is that all infinities are not equal. I'm not an expert, but I believe it has been proved that there are at least two sizes of infinity.
  • 5 0
 @seanot: I'm actually a physicist so if there are any freeriding Anna Kiesenhofers here who would like to assert a greater formalism on this topic I'd be most obliged. Really though, we all know that once you have say, >10^3 of slopestyle possibilities, the quality of the bathrooms is going to outweigh a a 1/1000 variation in the riding. (It's easier being a physicist.)
  • 1 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: well it was clear that you are not a mathematician! I guess physicists only have to worry about one infinity most of the time.
  • 1 0
 I would expect the venues to have limitless potential in different categories, and so as stated by @seanot, the infinities you talk about may not all be equal at all and so making a choice wouldn't be so hard.

The southwest of the UK has limitless potential (for rain & poor weather) and Canada has limitless potential (for big mountain riding), and so from a riding perspective I know which one I'd choose
  • 3 0
 'The goal is to sit down as a group'
  • 1 0
 @seanot: one of those infinites can be measured by the size of my…..
  • 1 0
 @enduroNZ: .... insecurity?
  • 18 0
 Bring bag Chatel Mountain Style
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8zlmNvlKj4
  • 3 1
 Needs more upvotes
  • 2 0
 That was a sick event, Big names attended it, and man it was gnarly.
Big up to Seb Giraldi for having this vision, and props to the Chatel Trailbuilding crew.
Thanks @vesania for your comment
  • 20 2
 It was interesting listening to the guy who runs a heli biking operation talking about bikes regenerating the environment. No irony there.
  • 15 0
 The long term community benefit to Wanaka, think of the jobs! A new fracture clinic, Doctors, Nurses , a moon boot factory…
  • 3 1
 Wanaka needs to diversify from an economy based entirely on dodgy yogi's
  • 14 6
 Is this a film by climate concerned rider who scour the world through access the use of hydrocarbons with much larger carbon emissions than the average Joe, to ride and impact native environments.
  • 3 0
 Yes
  • 7 0
 I've always said an event that feels like the Natural Selection Tour needs to come to MTB, and this looks like it. Really exciting stuff.
  • 4 0
 Love the idea of creating more riding spots like this. NZ is a good choice for another venue in the southern hemisphere, and with so many up & coming talented riders it will go off! Stoked to see what the new Hardline course looks like also in Taz.
  • 4 0
 Proving grounds where only pros can get invited who have already proven themselves… need a proving grounds bronze event
  • 1 0
 New Mexico would have been a much better location. There is so much already there for downhill riding plus thousands of miles of unique geography. I'm sure New Zealand was only picked because it is the "hip" outdoor spot of the last ten years. This selection is about as legitimate as anything else in the sport. Not that I care. Spend your millions where you want.
  • 1 0
 regardless of how riders get an invitation or are selected…it make sense to have proving grounds venues in a few more locations…S Afica, S America, Europe, Scandinavia, and…lest we forget, Canada.
  • 4 0
 Looks like Kamloops.
  • 1 0
 Its funny to watch a insane free rider who has been pushing the limits of mountain biking freak out about a daddy long legs spider XD
  • 4 4
 New proving grounds? Were the other ones no good anymore? Not enough trees in that forest this year? (Or what used to be a forest?). Do they rehab the old spot?
  • 2 0
 Where's the advent calendar comp?
  • 1 0
 is this like north of nightfall for proving grounds?
  • 1 0
 Not as ambitious:
"An elite group of mountain bikers travel to a remote island in the Canadian High Arctic. Their goal? To pioneer big mountain lines and progress their sport beyond anything the world has seen."
  • 1 0
 yeah more competitions, more athletes, more proving ground venues!
  • 1 0
 More Brett Rheeder footage please. So much steeze.
  • 1 0
 I should get invited







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