PRESS RELEASE: Proving Grounds
Twenty men and 12 women including Emil Johansson, Andreu Lacondeguy and Casey Brown will compete in the custom-built, one-of-a-kind course at Prineville’s Flying Blind Dirt Park vying for top freeride honors. Tickets are on sale now
The world’s top freeride mountain bikers are on deck for the third-annual Natural Selection Proving Grounds presented by Pacifico freeride mountain bike competition, now part of the Natural Selection Tour, at the Flying Blind Dirt Park with finals on September 10, 2022. One-day tickets for the finals are on sale now.
The stellar field of riders being announced today includes 2021 returning champions Carson Storch (USA) and Camila Noguiera (ARG). These riders will be tasked with defending their titles against a stacked field of 20 of the best male and 12 of the best female mountain bikers in the world. The field invited rider field includes 7x Crankworx winner and 2021 Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour champion Emil Johansson (SWE), 2021 second and third place finishers Reed Boggs (USA) and Dylan Stark (USA), second-place women’s finisher Hannah Bergemann (USA) and Casey Brown (CAN), who made history in 2019 as the first woman to compete in Proving Grounds.
Proving Grounds, founded by Todd Barber, has partnered with the Natural Selection Tour, to continue to evolve mountain bike competition and foster progression. The event will showcase ground-breaking, freeride MTB blurring the line between big mountain and slopestyle with athletes picking their line from multiple options suited to their skill, personal style and strengths. This year’s Proving Grounds course will showcase an updated design by Kyle Jameson and Cam McCaul. The venue reflects rider feedback and next-level progression-pushing, man-made features including huge drops, massive wood wall rides, doubles and rhythm sections.
Fifteen pre-qualified, invited men and all 12 invited women will advance straight into Saturday’s Super Final. On Thursday, 15 wildcard men will be competing in a qualifying event, where the top five finishers will advance to Saturday’s final. Riders will get two runs each in finals, with their best overall run counting.
Legendary rider and all-around Proving Grounds facilitator, Cam McCaul, says, “This eclectic field of competitors is evidence that Proving Grounds is something that just absolutely needs to happen at this point in our sport of competitive freeride mountain biking. The enthusiastic and positive response from the riders has been overwhelming, and making this list wasn’t the easiest task for our selection committee. The partnership between Natural Selection Tour and Proving Grounds is going to evolve in parallel with the natural direction these riders are pushing our sport, and the future is very bright.”
In 2021, Proving Grounds became the first pro women’s freeride event to have women competing on the same course as the men with equal pay. “Proving Grounds is a big opportunity for us riders to go push ourselves on larger features. I’m always super excited to go ride new big hits, especially when they’re built well and you already have that confidence built up before even riding,” says Vaea Verbeeck, Canadian pro rider, 3x Downhill National Champ and 2x Queen of Crankworx. “Creating more space for us to come ride together with the boys makes me stoked. I can’t wait to session with everyone!” This September, women riders return to compete with both equal billing, course access and prize purse.2022 INVITED RIDERSPre-Qualified Men (15)
Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP)
Cam Zink (USA)
Carson Storch (USA)
DJ Brandt (USA)
Dylan Stark (USA)
Emil Johansson (SWE)
Ethan Nell (USA)
Jaxson Riddle (USA)
Johny Salido (MEX)
Kurt Sorge (CAN)
Kyle Strait (USA)
Nicholi Rogatkin (USA)
Reed Boggs (USA)
Tyler McCaul (USA)
Thomas Genon (BEL)Pre-Qualified Women (12)
Brooke Anderson (USA)
Camila Noguiera (ARG)
Casey Brown (CAN)
Chelsea Kimball (USA)
Gemma Corbera (ESP)
Georgia Astle (CAN)
Hannah Bergemann (USA)
Harriet Burbidge-Smith (AUS)
Kirsten Van Horne (CAN)
Robin Goomes (NZL)
Vaea Verbeeck (CAN)
Vinny Armstrong (NZL)Wildcard Men (15 total, five advance to finals from Thursday’s qualifier)
Bienvenido Aguado Alba
Tickets are on sale now, including one-day tickets, as well as very limited three-day camping passes. Saturday will feature a full day of Super Finals competition. Gates open at 8:00 a.m. Competition kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with second runs beginning at 1:00 p.m. The winners will be announced with a podium ceremony immediately following the competition. A limited number of camping passes offer exclusive access for ticketed campers only to Thursday’s qualifiers, Friday night’s men’s and women’s Jump Jam and a screening of the new TGR MTB film Esperanto. One-day and camping passes are now available at NaturalSelectionTour.com
In addition to front-row seats to incredible action, this family-friendly festival features an industry expo with top brands offering product demos, Fox Racing limited-edition Proving Grounds merchandise, a beer garden, food trucks, giveaways, music and more.
The Natural Selection Tour brings its cutting-edge production, as seen on the EMMY-nominated snowboard tour, to Proving Ground viewers worldwide. An hour-long feature show will capture the action from multiple camera angles combined with proprietary racing drone POV, upping the at-home viewer experience beyond what was thought possible. The show will premiere on naturalselectiontour.com
(date mid/late-September) and then be available to stream, for free, on-demand following the premiere.
Proving Grounds is proudly presented by Pacifico and supported by Five Ten/adidas, Fox Racing, Shimano, Black Rhino, Industry Nine, Soundboks, GoPro, Flatline Van Co, Alta Racks and Oakley.
The Flying Blind Dirt Park is located just outside of Prineville in Central Oregon, near the town of Bend, which has long been a hub for all things adventure. With Mt. Bachelor as its backdrop and over 300 miles of singletrack, it’s no wonder the Mountain Bike Action named Bend “the best mountain bike town in the country.”