Interview: Rampage Organizer Todd Barber Talks Proving Grounds, Explains How Athletes are Chosen for Rampage

Aug 13, 2019 at 21:19
by Sarah Moore  
Rheeder breaks his run into sections. Getting a feel for the terrain as it changes through his run.

The eight Wild Card athletes that will head to Red Bull Rampage in October were announced last week. For the athletes not pre-qualified or on the among the Wild Cards, the Marzocchi Proving Grounds presented by Five Ten event is the only chance they have at making the cut. I caught up with Red Bull Rampage organizer Todd Barber to see how the Wild Cards were chosen, why he decided to add a qualifier event this year and what its format will be.

How many applicants do you get to Red Bull Rampage every year?

This year we received 30 interested athletes.

How do you decide who gets the Wild Card entries?

Wild card invites are chosen by the Rampage Committee which consists of Cam McCaul, Aaron Chase, Randy Spangler, Nico Vink, Dave Smutok and myself. Riders are selected based on past Rampage results, results from similar big bike contests, proven skill on a big mountain bike, and current video segments.

It's not an exact science. The high production value pieces are nice, but I've never required anyone to make a Rampage video.

I think we're all very unbiased and that's the reason we've put together this panel of people. I feel like they're all on there for the right reasons and none of them are team managers. I try to find all the guys that will stay as neutral as possible and either competed or understand what it takes to compete at the event.

Long story short, it's not an exact science. It's more of a ‘who is peaking in the sport,' 'what they're doing', and 'do they have the skills to come compete safely and possibly win the event?’

Adolf had one big slam today and this wasn t it. He somehow pulled through and rode this out.
Adolf Silva somehow rode this one out.

Are there any kind of red flags for you when you're looking at people that would suggest that they're not ready?

Yeah, there are certainly people that are crashing hard a lot. Adolf last year would be a prime example of somebody that was a bit on the border. Raw young talent, but also goes big. It made us all a little bit nervous but we all felt like he had truly amazing bike skills.

We each make a decision and we all vote once. Then I collect all of those and I tabulate them. Then we get on the phone the next day and we have a two and a half hour conference call. Then we vote again. Then those are the final athletes that are chosen!

I think it's worked pretty well so far. I think there's been some controversy, but that's more on a personal level than on a sport or a big-picture level. There are people that get frustrated because they didn't get in, their friend didn't get in, or they're a Team Manager and their athlete didn't get in. But I would say in the grand scheme we think 'these eight guys, are these the eight that should be there?'

Why did you decide to add a qualifier event to the Rampage selection process for 2019?

This is something that we have been trying to pull together for the past four years and it is finally coming to fruition this year. We decided this was necessary after the sport matured to the point when we had way more ripping athletes that could ride Rampage than we had room to invite.

The other big reason is the hope to develop the sport further. Most sports have year-round opportunities for athletes to build to the pinnacle of their sport. We have Slopestyle events, but no way for the big bike athletes to earn name and prove they deserve a shot to compete at Rampage. Years ago the Rampage was part of the FMB World Tour, and while it was not a good fit trying to make pure slope / dirt jump guys compete at the event, it did introduce new highly skilled athletes to the arena. Many people do not know that is how Brett Rheeder got his start at Rampage six years ago. Proving Grounds will finally be a place for these guys and girls to come build the sport and prove they belong at the Superbowl of Freeride.

Why do you think it's such an important part of the puzzle?

I've always been like, we need a better way to do it than just who's the hot guy and who's got the hot video. We've just felt like there's just a missing piece of the segment. There's Dirt Jump all the way up to Crankworx. That's kind of a linear amount of events going on all across the world. There's this massive gap where Rampage is. So the thought behind it is really a gap to fill and to really help the sport.

Freeride is a lot about just being out riding your bike, filming, and doing what most of these athletes do 98% of the year. It's more about going big. The Fest Series is kind of like that but it's just such a loose thing. There's no real judges and it's a tight-knit crew that do that. So this is to fill the void and help develop the sport and encourage guys out there and girls out there to shred, come out and compete in this, and see if they can get into Rampage.

This year we've got Casey Brown. The name Proving Grounds came from that interview in Outside Magazine last year. They did a whole article on Casey and they asked me, can she get into Rampage? It wasn't that she was male or female, it was that she just hadn't proved it yet. You have to be the top eight or top eleven to make it to Rampage and I don't feel like she's proven that she is that yet. She could be. Now with Proving Grounds you can prove yourself on the big bike.

Sideways action from the Oakley Official Alpine WhipOff Championships presented by Spank. Credit Fraser Britton Crankworx 2018

Casey Brown during Dual Slalom

So what do you think her chances of qualifying are at this point?

I have no idea, I really don't. I know she's ripping these days. I've been communicating with her just trying to make sure she understands what we're doing and how we're doing it, and she's totally down. She said she's been training, riding and focused on doing good at it. She is definitely one of the inspirations for hosting this event. We needed a place for males and females to come and prove themselves. It definitely sparked the whole interest in doing it. I'm really excited to see how she does and crack that door to see what's possible for the future.

I have had a lot of questions on how a girl can compete fairly against the boys. We feel that is the uniqueness of Rampage more than any other elite sport in the world. At both Proving Grounds and Rampage it is up to the athlete to choose their own path down the mountain. At this years Proving Ground there will be 3 to 4 options at all times to choose their ultimate path down the mountain. There will be massive flat drops, berm presses, step up, downs and overs and even a 60’ canyon gap that mimic Rampage type features.

With that said, a female could come in and say 'hey, this is the line I'm going to ride or build’ and there is no pressure to do what others athletes are doing. Then everyone will be judged with the same criteria. Maybe she'll beat some of the guys with her line choice it will be up to her ride to her abilities and see how the judges see it. If she does well and the format works, then maybe there are a couple other girls that can come out to compete next year.

What is the format for the Proving Grounds contest?

As far as a competition, it will be judged the same as Rampage and we will have 4 of the judges - Spangler, Bender, KJ and Nico. As far as the course it will be a totally custom brand new course built to mimic Rampage type features. As mentioned, there will be 3 to 4 options at all times to allow the athletes to ride to their strengths and style.

Ale di Lullo
Ale di Lullo photo

What terrain are they riding?

Yeah, that's another side of this uniqueness of this event. On the opposite side of the valley from where the Black Sage course comes down we're creating an entirely new course. 500 plus feet of vertical on about 1700 linear feet of length. If you were to look at it, you'd be like 'how do you do a Rampage course there?' There aren't any steep chutes, rocks or terrain. But the idea is to build features that mimic Rampage type features with big flat drops, doubles, shark fins, step up - down overs, berms and rhythm sections. Basically a course that will test the athletes not just on their tricks but their ability to ride a big bike in bike terrain. Athletes are definitely going to need to know how to rip a berm and carry speed into the features.

Then we're going to build three to four separate lines that are going to intersect each other at different points. If you go right, there'll be a big hit into a big double. If you go straight there'll be a big flat drop. If you go left it'll be a big berm into a double step down, step over. Basically, the athlete has one of three to four ways they can go and within that, they can really crisscross, jump from the backside of a berm onto a berm.

So that's where we get the Rampage creativity and how they want to interpret the mountain and terrain.

KJ photo
KJ photo
A couple features on the Proving Grounds course. KJ photos.

KJ photo
KJ photo
The Marzocchi Proving Grounds event will take place September 7-8th in Bend, Oregon. KJ photos.

To come up with the course, we have been looking at the videos from the past four years and just seeing all the key, marquee features and trying to recreate those in a safe environment. We're not necessarily looking for an athlete to come out of this and win Rampage. That would be amazing if they did, but this is really just cracking the door, allowing more riders into the sport. If they qualify, they're going to have to learn how to dig, they're going to have to learn how to ride, they're going to have to get their build crew together. They're going to have to figure it all out. But what better way to do it than to actually go do it.

If we get two or three people that haven't been to Rampage every year that come out of this, that are now in the system to learn how to build and learn the etiquette and get into it, then maybe in two, three, four years they win it. At the current pace, there's really no other fair way to get into it.

Ale di Lullo
Ale di Lullo photo

Ale di Lullo
Ale di Lullo
Ale di Lullo photo

So it's basically a feeder? A way to help build Red Bull Rampage?

It is. Like is said, there's such a gap between the slopestyle world and then there's this island of Rampage that is just all by itself. I think that's cool in a lot of ways and the uniqueness of it. But I think the sport's matured now to a point where there needs to be more options to get into it. I'm excited to see where this goes.

I'm putting everything on the line to try and produce this event. I've been calling in every favor and every partner I know. Every sponsor, all my builders, my friends, and everybody to try to throw whatever they can in to make this the coolest most bad ass event. Kyle Jameson, Carson Storch, Cam McCaul and Arron Lutze from Red Bull have been a massive help and the reason this event is ultimately happening in Oregon. The bonus of this weekend is that Black Sage and the Fest Series will be happening on Saturday the 7th and Proving Grounds will be on Sunday the 8th. Should be an action packed weekend.

You said the alternate athletes would be taken from the Proving Grounds event as well, could you explain a little bit about how that would work?

In the past, we've had the wild cards that were chosen and then we always chose 5 alternates in case anybody got hurt or for whatever reason couldn't make it. Like when Remy couldn't get across the border a couple years ago.

But we can't really do that fairly if people are planning to come to Proving Grounds this year. So it couldn't be 'pick the eight wild cards and have two alternates from that when people are spending money and their time and energy into coming all the way out to Proving Grounds. I felt like it's all got to come out of Proving Grounds. If you're committed to coming to Rampage and you didn't get voted in, then you're going to have to come out and prove it. Then we'll take two alternates out of this, so the top three will get in then we'll take two more as alternates.

What excites you the most about this new event?

The dream at Rampage has always been to create a festival type weekend, unfortunately the town of Virgin is not the right place to host this type of event. There is way too much of a tightrope we walk there
every year with the land, the town, the dust, and the crowds.

So we are bringing the festival here, we will have 2 days of events with Black Sage and Proving Grounds as well as camping Friday and Saturday night. We've got 10 Barrel beer flowing all weekend, food trucks, expo and we're going to show Anthills “Return to Earth” on Friday night and music on Saturday night.

Proving Grounds is on private property and people can come out for the whole weekend. Purchase tickets online then show up Friday at 1pm with your tent, Sprinter, RV and just hang out, watch movies, listen to music, drink beer then get up in the morning each day and and watch the worlds best mountain bikers throw down. We are really hoping people will come out and enjoy the whole weekend. This will be the first ever big bike mountain bike festival. Hope to see everyone there.

Key Dates:

● September 7-8th - Marzocchi Proving Grounds - Bend, OR
● September 8th - Final Three Rampage Qualifiers Announced
● October 25th - Red Bull Rampage - Virgin, UT

Learn more:

● More information on the H5 Events website here.
● Follow the Marzocchi Proving Grounds presented by Five Ten on Facebook and Instagram
● Purchase tickets for Proving Grounds / Black Sage Fest here.

Todd Barber and the Proving Grounds crew are hosting a Pinkbike special until Sunday the 25th - use the code PGCWX19 to unlock a code for $10 off 2-day passes and $25 off camping. Plus be entered into a drawing to win a GoPro Hero 7 camera package that will be given away on the 25th.

Thank you to all of our partners ≈ Marzocchi, Five Ten, GoPro, BF Goodrich, RaceFace, Magura, Red Bull, Clif Bar, Fast House, Alpine Bike Parks, 10 Barrel Brewing, Camelbak, Smartwool, PinkBike and Peterson Cat


  • 85 14
 I just really hope that Rampage this year is more freeride and less super polished slopestyle lines, and that it will actually be reflected in the judges‘ scores.
  • 96 28
 doesn't matter how you word it. Flipping/spinning a 60ft drop will always be gnarlier than riding down some loose "unpolished" terrain
  • 8 6
 Surely this is exactly what the Proving Grounds contest will be like as there is only 4 options so it'll come down to whoever throws the biggest tricks. They should be able to build their own lines like rampage as that's a huge part of it
  • 44 19
 @rraubenh Strongly disagree. A steep, rough enough chute that only one person can do could easily be gnarlier than tricking a drop.
  • 28 4
 @medievalbiking: "than tricking a drop". I think you're wildly underestimating the magnitude of flipping/spinning a 60ft+ drop with the exposure up on those mountains. I agree that chutes can be crazy, like DJ's at last years rampage (it was crazy). But there's no comparing it to TVS's drop last year. The slightest over/under rotation or misjudging speed on something that big is probably ending in a helicopter ride to a hospital
  • 4 2
 If you read the article carefully you can see they use the term 'big bike' to describe the event and not 'freeride'. So it's safe to say that rampage is a big bike contest as well as this one. Love freeride but what I wanna see on tv is this big bike flipping stuff.
  • 18 6
 @medievalbiking: Medieval thinking. Stop excusing yourself from doing tricks by trying to lower their significance. Tricks on that terrain are the gnarliest thing ever. Bretts backflip off of a flat drop? No chute in the world can match that.
  • 5 3
 @rraubenh: that being said, sometimes rogatkin and crew remind me more of an acrobat with his cork flip whip fakie 720’s
  • 4 1
 @SupraKZ: sounds like you’re on the waitlist for rampage
  • 7 1
 I always thought there was a distinction - the big massive flip had a place in some massive gap, but ultimately it was all about the free-ride......... For spinno-flippo-twisto there is slopestyle.......
  • 6 4
 Lol dude, Maybe actually go to rampage and see what there riding before you parrot what every other moron who says that, actually have an original thought in your brain. If you have actually tried to learn tricks, especially on a big bike you would know how much gnarly 360 or flip no handers, are then raw terrain, btw I don't can't the chutes as unmanicured as most of them have more work out in then the jumps or drops.
  • 10 3
 @pargolf8: yep. Visually, slopestyle is now often times more like a high dive contest than a "steeze fest"

Badass athletes, but not my cup o tea spectator-wise
  • 4 0
 Perhaps we should have people choice of being robbed.
  • 3 1
 @medievalbiking: I don't think Brendog was the only one that could have ridden his line. Id be willing to bet most of the riders that beat him could ride his line.
  • 5 3
 @ranke: ill take world cup dh any dayyyy
  • 1 2
 @medievalbiking: I agree with you but that's what Fairclough designed last year and it was scored poorly. I bet only a handful of the riders could ride his line.
  • 2 1
 @upduro go stand up top those “polished slopestyle lines” yourself and see if you call it slopestyle afterwards.
  • 1 0
 There was a pretty good mix of both clean lines and gnarly raw lines.
  • 4 8
flag PHeller (Aug 21, 2019 at 15:16) (Below Threshold)
 @ranke: "Visually, slopestyle is now often times more like a high dive contest than a "steeze fest""

That's what worries me about Rampage. I use the alegory of "street vs park" for BMX. Street riding is still very much fresh and new, with seemingly endless amounts of options and creative originality.

Park, on the other hand, is summarized in a simple question: has every trick that can be done, been done? When I see Rogatkin doing his twirly whirly stuff, I can't help but think that its just a matter of building on the last trick. 360 to 540, 540 to 720, 720 to 900. I'm not sure that what's Rampage should be. Who can do the most flips on a 100' gap? Who can shape lines into slopestyle jumps melted into desert canyon terrain?

I'm a big proponent of Rampage going global - and thats from someone who lives just down the road from Virgin. I think the environment has gotten stale. It'd be sweet to see actual trail building taking place, with trails that actually last and can be ridden by mortals (with modification). Can you imagine a competition that spans the globe where teams of riders/builders have to a build a 1-Mile long trail and are judged not only by the creativity of riding that trail, but how accessible it is to the public (proximity to major populations) or how it can be ridden by a kid or a pro can throw massive gaps on it? Where the "crowds" viewing such trails would not be merely an audience, but could ride such trails, vote on them, etc.

Lets make Rampage a trail building contest, as well as a "who can go biggest" contest.
  • 2 0
 @PHeller: I live in salt lake and that idea sounds like shit. We ride a ton of the OG site and even a lot of that is fuuuucking sketchy.
  • 4 0
 The level of riding these days has progressed beyond just riding down a gnarly chute. Sure, when Rampage was in its infancy, people would rake in a line and send it. It would seem that most of the guys pulling tricks off the massive features are still riding lines that are 85-90% as gnarly as those raw rugged chutes, but then they go and turn their backs or get upside down off the biggest drops on the hill. Zink/Straits/PEFs chute at Rampage a few seasons ago that was on a 67 degree angle for like 100-200 feet or whatever was without a doubt gnarly AF, but that alone is not enough to win these days. You have to do something like that, and then spin off a drop that everyone else is just straight airing to win. The reason slopestyle guys are doing well is that they have the bike control to ride most of the gnarly raw lines, but then they also have the balls to do crazy tricks off those same things that the others are straight airing. Last years rampage had a good mix of it all, and I'm excited to see what happens.
  • 1 0
 @rockyflowtbay: his line was sick, his creation, and imo should have been scored higher, tough to judge these events for sure but that was a line that definitely is freeride and inspired
  • 2 2
 Yeah it might be gnarlier for the rider but it looks boring as shit to watch a dude spin or flip, we’ve seen those trick before through slope style. What we need are some massive transfers and canyon gaps like gee atherton did back when he rode rampage, some shit that is truly deadly @rraubenh:
  • 1 0
 @tomasinbc: Isn't that the point of the contest? Riders doing what is considered for them to be "gnarlier"? Of course those riders willing to flip and spin off the massive drops are going to do better than those who don't. Would you rather watch someone straight air a canyon gap or big drop than flip/spin/trick it? That is the level now. People are still doing sweet transfers and big gaps. They just happen to also be tricking stuff too.
  • 3 0
 @medievalbiking: agreed - that's why not everyone can ride like Jame Doerfling.
  • 34 1
 Brendog was robbed! Still, at least there hasn't been a repeat of "They call him Norby!" for a few years. That was tragic.
  • 9 1
 Have you seen Vital’s interview with him and Bruni? Very interesting to see Brendog’s take on what happened
  • 1 0
 @WGPE: got a link by chance? I definitely didn't know there was an interview.
  • 4 0
 @WGPE: "I'm not bitter" 5mins later - yeah he's justifiably bitter.
  • 4 1
 @Clarkeh: and rightfully so. Top 5 run easily. First person down on a judged competition always gets screwed unfortunately. His score was horribly judged period as well.
  • 2 1
 We will never forget: Sorge's spiritual 2017 run
  • 2 0
Rampage talk at about 27:00
  • 1 0
 Yeah I wouldn't have given him the win but he definitely got under scored.
  • 34 14
 Welcome to the below threshold comments..

...all I said was unless you water down what rampage is, realistically girls just won’t make it into the top 30 gnarliest riders in the world. This is not a dig or an insult, it’s just reality.
  • 9 4
 How will watering it down make a difference?
The question is just about making women more visible in this context to show others girls/women what is possible for them, but also on the flipside the returns the sponsors stand to gain from this happening. Expecting them to compete toe to toe with the dudes for a place in the comp is never going to work out.
It's tricky to determine at what point pushing for greater equality begins to go against nature. I think such cases are rare, but certain specific physical feats can come into this category. DH does not, it's just about how fast you can get down the mountain. With Rampage, I'm not sure how you'd go about leveling the playing field given the sheer strength you need to land without disintegrating on impact. Then again, there are (probably) lines at the Utah site that can be navigated without needing to be a beast, but these will not secure the rider many points, which would lead to questions being raised on the legitimacy of female riders being given a spot. I'd love to see Casey or others have a go, but there would be a lot of bitching on comment sections for all sorts of reasons. It's hard to get one's head around.
  • 14 1
 @BenPea: exactly. It’s not that hard to get ones head around I don’t think. This is the apex bike event in the calendar, people want to see the absolute cream of the crop throw down on the gnarliest terrain on earth. Period. You sort of hinted at how it would be watered down when you said ‘some lines.. without needing to be a beast’. But at that point, what’s the point? I’m sure some people will get offended by this, but I only watch the top 20 or 30 downhillers.. no offence to those below. And if 20 goats turn up and go faster I’ll stop watching loic and laurie et al. It’s not about sex.

If billy from Idaho does a table top off a drop people watch, but when three others turn up and flip it, nobody cares who billy is anymore. Welcome to Earth. Don’t hate on me, I didn’t create it. Anyone who holds firm that they would watch the top spot women, better be paying attention to the 256th place man.. because if not you are more sexist than the people you slam. (This is not directed at you @BenPea
  • 5 0
 @tobiusmaximum: hard to argue. Can it be called tokenism? Anyway, it hasn't happened yet. I'd never say a woman who gets down the Rampage cliffs doesn't deserve to be there though, not least because it would still be a striking sight and a buzz to watch if you recalibrate your expectations and remember that you can excited about different body types and sizes doing different things in a different way. My inner vagina is telling me to think the shit out of this, while my inner schlong is reminding me that I also only watch men's DH, and only the top 20-30 at that.
  • 7 1
 @BenPea: the thing is, I totally get what you’re saying. But! at the point where you say ‘I’d love to watch them have a go’ or ‘..a woman who gets down’.. that is a) possibly a little patronising and b) based on sex. Which is apparently what the whole thing is opposed to. Basically we are one step away from making a kids rampage and saying ‘well let’s encourage them’, which, if I was a woman, I would find waaaay more offensive than someone saying men are better at rampage. Btw, I totally respect your confession of only watching the fastest dh’ers. I don’t think that’s unfair.. put it this way.. do people want to see Ken Blocks gymkhana? Or Dave from Essex doing a handbrake turn in tescos car park? Would they rather eat my cooking? Or Gordon Ramsay’s?
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: I think you hit the nail on the head here in that I don’t think any of the women who could possibly event want to be there as some kind of sideshow, like oh hey here’s a woman going let’s see if she can make it down in one piece.
  • 2 0
 @tobiusmaximum: @sino428: all of this is true, but then you might get an Anne Caro caliber freerider who could be wicked to watch full stop.
  • 3 1
 @BenPea: But I suspect only wicked to watch if the women's event is on before the men's.
  • 7 1
 @tobiusmaximum I think that is beside the point. Can we be stoked for progression without always bringing this tired argument back? For once, I am excited to see more women get into freeride and open the door for the future generation. I am convinced the public will be there. Gentlemen, no need to feel threatened by "not top 30" women making it onto the world's biggest mtb scene. Plus, what, if not a mother**** pioneer, is Casey Brown (and co.) for already altering the way people perceive freeride and inspiring contest events?
  • 4 2
 @mm2020: I said a lot of things, what is ‘beside the point’? And, with all due respect, my nephew is progressing at tennis but nobody wants to watch him on telly.
  • 5 2
 @tobiusmaximum: It was with respect to your first comment. It seems someone always has the need to bring up how women athletes aren't on par with the men. I believe it is not the most important point. The public can appreciate women athletes at the peak of their sport. And thank you for bringing up tennis as an exemple since I will gladly pay to see Serena Williams play against Simona Halep anyday, as do most tennis fans. We aren't talking about any women athletes here, but the very best in the sport, which I do believe have commercial and cultural value for brands and audiences alike. My two cents.
  • 3 1
 @mm2020: that’s great. But good luck finding even ten women to create a watchable rampage event, without ‘watering it down’ (which was my initial point)
  • 10 0
 @mm2020: The difference is that womens tennis players compete in their own category. You would not want to watch Serena or Halep play if they were in the men's field as they would get blown off the court. If you could get enough women capable enough to make a full womens category thats one thing, but adding a women to an exclusive event that she'd have no real chance to compete in is kind of silly. Like I said above it would be more of a sideshow and I'm not sure any of the women would want that in the first place.
  • 5 1
 @tobiusmaximum: But again, that is beside the point since we aren't there yet! I totally agree with you there aren't currently 10 female athletes biking and training at the level Rampage requires, and who knows if it is ever going to get to that point, but in this case, we are talking about one specific person who has set their time, energy, and training on developing their freeride skills, and I believe most of the mountain biking community is pretty darn excited about that. Instead of focusing on what could or not be, can we focus on what is? (and that is my point) Good day!
  • 2 5
 @sino428: I think you might be surprised how many people have drunk the kool aid and will cheerlead anything ‘progressive’. (The other difference is I wonder if, for their given dollar, would @mm2020 rather watch Williams/Halep or Federer/Djokovic?)
  • 9 2
 @mm2020: I think Vicki Golden is a good example of what could happen. A few years ago she was in X Games best whip just because she was a girl, but watching this year she threw down.

Casey, Sandler, and a bunch of other girls might be able to get to the level they need to be on for Rampage in a few years, but they aren't there yet from what I've seen.

The thing I don't understand is why everyone is saying women need to be paid the same. Why does the women's whip off winner get paid the same as the guy's? There was like 5 of them compared to 100 guys and they aren't even close to the same level. If they want to earn what the guys earn they either need to compete against them or generate the same amount of sales, which they currently don't.
  • 9 5
 @dbagbiker: simple. Because reason, logic and facts do not matter when you’re promoting an ideology.
  • 2 1
 @sino428: Yeah, I don't know. Tennis might not be a perfect comparison since mtb athletes don't play against one another. Riders build and ride their own lines, which bring an entire creativity aspect to the game that is absent from many other sports. As per to your comment of whether bringing in an athlete that may not be a winning contender, I believe it is all part of the sport's progression. It's also a matter of opinion I guess. Some people seem fixated on wanting this particular event be like and fit in with other large scale sporting events, but what if Rampage didn't have to fit in and only be a competition? But also an event to showcase the sport's very best and upcoming riders? Males or females? Anyhow, I guess that is up to the organization to decide, and it appears to be the direction they are going into for the time being. A bit of a trial and error with this Proving Grounds event, which appears to be a clever move to me since it gives unlikely players a chance to prove themselves, and lower the amount of "risk" for the main event itself. I say, let's see how this unfolds.
  • 3 2
 @tobiusmaximum: problem is we're in a world that is already heavily and historically skewed in favour of certain groups of humans, the logical progression of which would be those groups dominating to the point where all others are subservient and unrepresented in all kinds of spheres. At what point do you have to load the dice in favour of the "weak" in areas where it is not happening organically with the passing of time?
  • 2 2
 @mm2020: if they’re the ‘very best’, they’re in the competition. But I dare say you’re probably right, a curiously powerful ideology seems hellbent on diluting anything that looks like ranking humans in order of prowess/skill/talent/value/excellence. A trophy for every kid, right?
  • 16 3
 @dbagbiker : Oh boy. Way to open a can of worms for Pinkbikers in general. I usually avoid these comments as it seems to bring out the worst out of everyone. But I can give a shot at explaining my perspective, with which you may or not agree.

I don't know if equal pay and opportunity can be summed into an "ideology" @tobiusmaximum, but if it is, I'm all in. Crankworx has specifically taken a stance on providing their male and female athletes with equal exposure and monetary compensation as a recognition of their talent, training, and hard work. What message does it send to female athletes when their cheques are only a fraction of their male counterparts'? I believe recognition of someone's financial worth as an athlete is an excellent way to encourage greater participation at the grassroot level, and ultimately in elite events.

It is also taking a social stance. What if not everything in life has to come down to the exact amount of sales directly generated by athletes? But has to encompass a recognition of their contribution to the sport? I also wonder what is the "bottom line" cost of Crankworx for giving equal pay at their events, and how that translates into capital and social benefits for the sport in general, inspiring more people to partake at all levels. And just to contradict myself a little here, I also believe brands benefit monetarily from sponsering women athletes as it is part of their sales demographics. I often read here how little women are on local trails in people's comments, but in BC, it's often 50/50, and I have been on many rides where I only encounter women and no dudes.

My unpopular opinion here, I think many men feel shortened when they see how successful female athletes can be while they may consider themselves to be of a higher calibre. There is to be a philosophical debate on why and how sports' categories came to be, and whether that is the best option, but I don't think this platform is necessarily the space for that.
  • 1 0
 @mm2020: I agree with the "see what happens" sentiment.
  • 1 0
 @mm2020: what could possibly go wrong?
  • 1 1
 @BenPea: sarcastique, Ben?
  • 2 0
 @mm2020: I just think Rampage is a tough event to structure that way. With a limited build area and a limited number of lines its tough to let in riders just for a showcase. They cut the field down a few years ago for this exact reason. They used to have a qualifying round where riders would get two runs to see who even made the finals. They did away with that because the mountain became over crowded.
  • 1 0
 @mm2020: à moitié, je ne prends pas position ! The worst probable outcome is lots of bitching right here.
  • 2 1
 @sino428: Hence the Proving Grounds.
  • 2 1
 @BenPea: Amen Wink
  • 2 1
 @mm2020: so many things I could comment on but I’ll keep it to this statement you made: ‘I believe recognition of someone's financial worth as an athlete...’

So it is about money? You specifically used the term financial worth. How do you decide financial worth? And who is paying?
  • 1 0
 @mm2020: Just a few counter points:

Veronique Sandler had the right idea when she said that it was time to prove that women can ride with guys. That should be the message they focus on, because that is what will make their pay rise to the level of men (or build massive social media followings, that would work too). Once they draw the same amount of views as the men they will be paid the same amount. The progression won't happen over night, but it can be done. Again, Vicki Golden has shown its possible. Watch the replay of X Games best whip from a few weeks ago, she can really throw a bike around.

Social stances are cool for privately owned companies, but publicly traded ones have a responsibility to their shareholders to generate the largest profit they can. If that means having nothing to do with women then so be it, fiduciary responsibility comes first. Obviously completely ignoring half the population is an extreme example, but I'm sure there are cases where it is the right thing to do.

Mountain biking might be popular with women where you live, but here in southern California from what I've seen they probably aren't even 10% of the riders. It would be interesting to see what the population looks like for the entire world or all of North America.

One thing with mountain biking compared to baseball, hockey, etc, is we don't know how much the teams/bike companies are paying the riders. For all we know, Casey Brown could be getting more money from Trek than the men on the factory dh team, or the more up and coming freeriders like Reed Boggs. Maybe 90% of females that go to bike parks want to ride a Session because of her. So even if the numbers we see publicly are less than men, the women have the opportunity to even it out on the backend.
  • 3 1
 Obviously Casey won’t win with a cork 720 or flipping a 60 ft drop but a creative line a canyon gap and a flip on an unusual jump or drop could be enough for a top 10 in which case she belongs. Makes sense to have her at feeder and see what she can do
  • 6 1
 @mm2020: I'm gonna be honest when I show up to a local DH race and compete in cat 2 all on my own dollar with zero support and beat the fastest pro woman time by 40 seconds who has a shop sponsor I do notice that
  • 3 0
 @tobiusmaximum: The sponsors decide the athletes worth, man or woman. And compared to most other sports everyone isn't anything near what their worth compared to other sports. Can you imagine any of the top 30ish tennis players needing to take a second job in the winter to pay for their gear and trips in the summer?

It's not "about the money" but if you're restricted from being committed to your sport because you've got financial issues while you're sitting in the top 30 in the world of any sport - I'd say that's an issue.

Plus we know there's a huge difference in performance from a privateer vs a full sponsored pro. How are you supposed to get into the top 10 when there's not enough hours in the day to put in the work you need to do to get there?
  • 3 0
 @bulletbassman: Lmfao she can't flip
  • 1 0
 @sino428: Rampage is a huge event, i love it. Surely it can't cost that much more to have a women's category and that's what Rampage is...pushing boundaries. Score at the same level so it it is equal across categories, and scores reflect across categories. It bothers me that there is so much talent but so few spots ...just like crankworx slopestyle... sure exclusively but why not have an extra 10 riders there are many that just might put down the run...and...more for fans
  • 1 1
 @Clarkeh: re: “about the money”

I simply asked the question of mm2020 as a response to the phrase ‘recognition of someone’s financial worth’. I don’t think that was unreasonable to ask. It was right there, ‘financial worth’. Except, the point is, we don’t have to contrive some recognition of Loics financial worth..

As for tennis, not a comparison financially. If the top dude is getting millions just to wear a certain t shirt and shorts.. not really a comparison, wouldn’t you say? Are you alluding to some mtb conspiracy to not pay riders very much? Somehow riders are not getting their worth? Maybe they’re getting exactly their worth..

Regarding breaking into the top ‘xyz’ to be a pro.. it’s hard, and yes it reaps rewards when it happens. Camille is private, so is JVK. Is this fair? Probably. Should we give more ‘leg up’s’ to the top rank? Not if you want to retain the high standard..
  • 1 0
 @albikes: you know why the top flite of any sport is the best, right? because not everyone is allowed to enter. a small field ensures excellence. this is the same for everything, great films, top models, business, sport, everything. excellence is impossible without exclusivity. 'exclusivity', what a politically incorrect term. lol. ludicrous. ever been to a restaurant and they don't have a table for you? thats exclusivity. you are excluded. get over it. not everyone can do everything. not everyone can have a superyacht and be on television. and you know what, its probably a good thing.
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: "Are you alluding to some mtb conspiracy to not pay riders very much?"

If you're following the outspoken series, Loic and Troy think everyone on the circuit should be getting more for what they do, and I'd say they're in a better place to know what's going on than the PB comment section. Mostly what they'd like is transparency with contracts so you know what money everyone else is on and you can figure out what you're worth and it's not mostly decided by the sponsor. Which I think would be great.

I realize its impossible to quantify a riders worth, does having Loic on your brand sell more bikes for you than having Gwin? f*ck knows. But a pro rider certainly takes more risks and has a much higher chance of getting very broken than a tennis player, I'd like to see them compensated better for that risk.
  • 2 1
 @Clarkeh: shock horror, two humans think they should get paid more! I also think I should be paid more. But we earn our worth, we don’t request it. Regarding transparency, is there a contract clause that stops riders telling people what they earn?

Btw.. it’s not about risk. It’s about who is watching. Cliff divers take a lot of risk, but hardly anyone cares.
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: That's what Troy and Loic both said about their contracts, yes.
  • 1 0
 @Clarkeh: okay so that’s a little weird. But I’m still not getting my violin out for people with some of the best jobs in the world (from a mtb’ers perspective, of course)

There are slave/owner situations everywhere, the owner always retains the upper hand because hundreds more slaves are ready for their chance to fill in. If Troy and Loic don’t like it, launch TroyLoic bikes and set their own wages. Based on sales hopefully, otherwise they won’t last long.
  • 1 0
 @albikes: They used to do it that way an invite alot more, even having a qualifying round to get into the finals. But it became and issue because the venue only has limited space to build and the mountain became over crowded for riders and builders. The cut down in field size was a change the riders wanted.
  • 2 1
 @Clarkeh: When it comes to economics in sports there are two types or sports each with their owns way of compensating athletes. There are spectator sports and sponsor driven sports. Spectator sports are your standard mainstream sports like football, basketball, soccer, etc. Players are primarily compensated by their teams from the revenue those team generate through people watching the sport. This happens either by direct ticket sales or through the TV contracts the teams have. In these sports its much easier to quantify the value as you can look directly at how many tickets are sold or the TV rating to tell you have many people are watching. In many sports like Football and basketball the total pool of money available to players under the union agreements is a direct % of the overall revenue that the teams/leagues make. In these sports the players essentially are the product.

Sponsor driven sports (like mountain biking) are a completely different thing. These athletes are simply being paid to advertise a product. Whether its by riding that product to WC podiums, or by showcasing it in videos, its all just an advertisement. There is no direct revenue made from people paying to watch the sport which make it almost impossible to quantify the true "Value" of the riders to the companies who sponsor them. Because the riders aren't the product, they are simply marketing the products.

Its easy for me to say that riders should make more. I love what these people do and hope they make as much as they can. But I have to also realize that the market for these riders (advertisers) dictates those prices. Unless there is collusion among all the bike companies to cap what they will pay riders then you have to assume the free market is setting the correct price.
  • 13 0
 Crazy how many Rampage experts are on pinkbike... Biggest stage there is for MTB, and I am so honored to be apart of it! Come out and watch if you think everything is so manicured & slopestyle, haha
  • 11 2
 Casey already changing the world of mountain biking! Thanks for inspiring rad events like Proving Grounds, and looking forward to seeing you crushing it! #CaseyforRampage
  • 12 3
 Hopefully they can clarify the scoring criteria this year.

Two words - Brendan’s run!
  • 9 3
 Remember Jordi rolled up to Brendogs chute when his run blew up , he looked down and thought f*&k that for a game of soldiers.

Surely it's time to get back to its roots. More raw stuff please but I understand the average punter tuning in doesn't realise how severe that is, where as everyone can understand the consequences of messing up a canyon gap or jumping 60ft down.

Brendogs interview was really insightful.
  • 3 0
 Have you heard Cam McCauls interview (vital I think). He had walked all over the mountain the week prior and seen all lines. Defended the judges. I dunno....
  • 4 0
 @rockyflowtbay: I haven't to be honest but it was strange to hear that Brendog did everything that he was told would score well on the judges criteria and then doesn't get anywhere. It's more biased to the slopestyle big trick guys and I hope more of Gee and Brendog coming in will focus it more on the raw lines rather than the really smooth tricked out runs. I enjoy hardline much more lately.
  • 1 0
 @Gremclon: I do get what you're saying. Personally I think riders should have both tricks off big features and gnarly steep sections. But what the scores come down to for me is, I think the riders above Bren could have rode his line, but there is no way he could have done theirs with the tricks.
  • 5 0
 Great interview. I love when we get a casual, candid interview from someone, rather than the filtered-for-PR responses most folks offer up. Well done Sarah/Todd.

Also, I'd love to see Lacondeguy take it this year. Dude deserves it.
  • 4 0
 I've been wondering if they could do a separate Fest Series style event at one of the previous rampage sites. Have it a jam format and judged by the riders (like all fest series events). That would be a great proving ground also.
  • 6 0
 Calling Virgin a "town" is a reach. Its more like "where a couple people live"
  • 4 0
 "A permanent gathering of people" haha
  • 11 6
 Rampage 2019 better not be another freestyle event, we just had that at whistler.
  • 2 2
 I think you are underestimating how crazy that "freestyle event" really is. Everyone that has been there from, riders, to industry folk, to other extreme athletes like free skiers and MX riders. They all think its nuts.
  • 3 1
 Other than "i cant use scribd" comments; my favorite comments on PB every rampage season are how it has turned into a "slopestyle". Be willing to bet 100% of those commentors couldn't even walk the top ridge on the rampage course. Or would shit themselves just looking off the back of the Windmill trail.
  • 3 0
 Ultimately i don't really care about whos let in or who wins. Just want the riders to have enough time to built and train on their trails and not be pressured to do something on the finals day thats sketchy.
  • 3 0
 Nice work, Todd! I love events where relatively unknown riders get a chance to be discovered and ride alongside the big dogs. Best of luck to Casey & all riding at black sage Fest!
  • 3 2
 @tobiusmaximum here, hold my beer. This is how you get voted below threshold. Want to bet I beat my record of 38 from the last time I commented on rampage?

The numbers don't lie. Everything you need to know about the declining relevance of rampage is in the view counts on YouTube.

View totals have been flat to down since it came back in 2012. Even at 4 to 5 million views per event recently, that isn't enough eyeballs or revenue to keep big sponsors like Redbull or Adidas around when you consider a single Danny MacAskill video can get 15 to 89 million views or some unknown can get the same 5 million posting their summer trip to the Whistler bike park or a bike repair hack.

Rampage only has 5 of the top 100 most watched videos on the Red Bull YouTube channel. And of those 5, 4 of them are the 2012 rampage and 1 of them is from 2013. If you go to the Red Bull Bike subchannel, the numbers don't redeem the event there either with the 2018 event just getting in the top 15 and still well behind previous years

People's interest in rampage peaked a while ago and sponsors like Red Bull will be moving on.
  • 2 1
 1. Redbull can leave, never liked them anyway
2. Sure the event doesn't get many views but the winning runs and highlights are raking in far more than the event replay... consider those (+ the people that attend the actual event)
3. If all the corporate-ness of the event left, then it would be more true to its roots than ever before. Just sending it in the desert and making a friendly competition out of it
4. Views on youtube don't mean shit when you can watch the event live, on youtube, on, etc. Interest isn't about youtube views.
  • 1 1
 @Lookinforit: Per my other comment, make a rampage Fest Series event!
  • 7 1
 Rampage is a live event. Its 4 hours long. People either watch it live or watch the replay once (probably on Redbull TV) and move on. Comparing that to a 5 minute Danny Mac video, which is made go viral, makes no sense.
  • 2 0
 Rampage is the only mtb event in us with a cable deal besides olympics. You have no idea what you are talking about
  • 2 0
 Tickets still sell out for Rampage in 30 seconds after they are released. That has to count for some merit regarding popularity although not a correlative indicator of revenue. I am so stoked to be there this year!!!
  • 1 0
 I really get stoked about Rampage. and its really a fragile thing. This era of FR may end up being short-lived. And things could go back to independent edits w/o much production available online but not a live event. But, putting on a mega slopestyle event on a mountainside is more sustainable than the current format.... the dude said it in the, and the land issues are not a great fit for Rampage.. if promotors and athletes want to see this end of the sport grow, someone has to come up with a model that is sustainable for the competitors and for bigger crowds...Long Live Chainsaw!
  • 2 0
 Good for him trying to build the freeride side of mountain biking. I have a lot of respect for him and everyone involved.
  • 1 0
 Great place for all those people making “Rampage tagged” web edits to....Go Big or Go Home.
  • 3 0
 The Stoke begins!
  • 1 0
 Live stream of proving grounds?
  • 1 0
 But oil! And fracking!!!
  • 1 0
 Todd Barber is the reason you have Rampage. Jeez.
  • 2 2
 The panel is completely unbiased? Explain how Brendog didn't win last year.
  • 5 5
 Get Josh Bryceland in there.
  • 24 1
 I hate to say it but I'd rather see Kade.
  • 9 1
 @glasvagas: kade and kaos
  • 1 1
 @Gremclon: absolutely!
  • 3 10
flag glasvagas (Aug 21, 2019 at 6:01) (Below Threshold)
 @Gremclon: Kade has way more tricks. Kaos is too buy waiting for hand me down fox kit from his big sister.
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 the only rampage organiser who's not a criminal!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
  • 3 4
  • 4 2
 I want to see Finn in Rampage but I also don't want Finn to die.

He is an extremely good and fast rider but he always gives it 110%. He is going to be at rampage in a couple of years for sure!
  • 7 1
 @mtb-jon: nicely put. His WC inconsistency could spell bad news if you take it to rampage. He’s a loose cannon.
  • 5 3
 @mtb-jon: that's dumb.... Ya can't give 110 percent.... 100 is the max ya can give....
  • 2 0
 @Luis-Sc: but... but... this one goes to 11
  • 4 6
 So can someone elaborate on who Todd Barber is...
  • 2 0
 Some info at the bottom of here:
  • 1 0
 I think Todd is one of the main people who originally thought up the concept of red bull rampage (along with a few others) and has been the main organizer for all of them.
  • 1 3
 @vesania:so what video parts or past contest results does he have?
  • 1 0
 @coadymacmillan: none. he's just an event organizer
  • 1 0
 @vesania:ya I’m an idiot.

I read the people who choose the wildcards as thewildcards....

I was pretty thrown off by the list, haha
  • 2 0
 Todd Barber used to bend the shock bolts on his bike multiple times a year. I can confirm he probably goes somewhat harder than most people in his age bracket...

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