HEADER IMAGE PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool / Emily Tidwell
Last week, the Wild Rye team packed up our gear, our best sun hats and headed south for eight days in Virgin, Utah to Red Bull Formation, the first-of-its-kind progression session for women's freeride mountain biking in some of the most iconic and challenging terrain one can imagine.
Now in its third year, the Formation has "leveled up" exponentially. “The progression witnessed this year was spectacular and truly marks a turning point for women’s freeride mountain biking,” said Katie Holden, a Red Bull Formation founding organizer. “Since last year, we have seen a tremendous amount of confidence from the riders. From tackling steep drops to choosing lines that played to their styles of riding and incorporating tricks, we hit a major milestone.”
This year's event featured athletes Hannah Bergemann, Camila Nogueira, Casey Brown, Chelsea Kimball, Georgia Astle, Harriet Burbidge-Smith, Louise Ferguson, Robin Goomes, Sam Soriano, Vaea Verbeeck, Vinny Armstrong, and Vero Sandler, each of whom envisioned new lines on the mountain and sent top-to-bottom runs that highlighted their creativity and athletic prowess on a mountain bike. If you aren't yet following these baddies, do yourself a favor and do so. You'll be inspired and then some.
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Robin O'Neill
Wild Rye was honored and beyond stoked to partner with the big guys as the as the Red Bull Formation Media Lounge sponsor. In other words, we were in charge of "providing the vibes," and creating a sanctuary for those working hard chasing photos and stories from line to line in the blistering heat.
“We’ve been huge fans and supporters of Red Bull Formation since its inception and we couldn’t be more proud to partner with them and to offer a space for connection and relaxation during an exceptionally tough week of digging and riding,” said Wild Rye founder and CEO, Cassie Abel. “It’s an honor to work alongside these women, who are putting their skills on display on some of the toughest terrain in the world, and doing it just as deftly and impressively as the guys at the top of their game. These women are inspiring and showing the next generation of young girls what’s possible, and we’re here for it.”
I sat down with Cassie to talk about Wild Rye's first ever partnership with Red Bull Formation and to learn about what the experience was like being on the ground at the event.
Need to Catch Up a Little? Check out the Red Bill Video, Red Bull 2022 Explained:
(Oh, and, recognize those overalls on BA freerider Micayla Gatto?)
What inspired the partnership opportunity for Wild Rye and Formation?
Working with the Red Bull team and Katie Holden to support Formation has always been a dream of mine... at least since 2019 when the event began. Why? Because it’s all about bringing up other women in some of the most extreme terrain, all while supporting and encouraging each other. The progression element combined with the bad-assery of the 12 women riding is just magical. The community and collaboration (and pushing the sport forward for women) that Formation inspires is everything Wild Rye is about.
Why do you think this event is so important to the women’s mountain bike community?
Representation is still a serious issue in our industry. Women as a whole are still very under represented as industry leaders, professional athletes and on so many other levels. This event is designed to bring women up in the industry — from athletes to up-and-comers, to photographers and videographers -- which is something our industry needs more of. Women were the stars of the show at every touchpoint of the event, supporting each other, lifting each other up and cheering each other on to the highest levels of success.
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Natalie Starr
What was the best part of having “boots on the ground” at the event?
I’ve watched formation online for the previous two years, but seeing the magic come together IRL gave me goosebumps. The camaraderie, the energy, the teamwork approach to helping each athlete complete their goals is pretty spectacular to experience. One that's near impossible to describe, so I genuinely hope our whole community is able to experience it (or something like it) in real life in the future.
What was your favorite part of Red Bull Formation?
Watching the women crush their lines... and then witnessing the entire Formation community swarm each rider with hugs and congratulations. Feeling the energy of unwavering support between riders is truly magical.Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Emily Tidwell
What would you like to see moving forward?
This is an event for the athletes, driven by the athletes. So I hope as the event evolves, that whatever shape it takes the camaraderie and vibe of women elevating each other continues. I'm so excited to continue to support and accentuate those vibes wherever we fit in!
Big thanks to ALL the incredible athletes for showing up and inspiring lady riders all around the world at Formation. We can't wait to see you bring it next year!
To watch the full recap of the event, head on over to Red Bull TV. Don't have time to watch the full 18 minutes? Here are a few event highlights that might change your mind:
- Camila Nogueira received the Industry Nine Spiciest Line Award, as voted on by her fellow athletes as the culmination of the event. The award was to go to the athlete who sparked the stoke, and rode in a manner that exhibited their courage, creativity, and community at the event.
- New Zealand’s Robin Goomes threw the first-ever backflip at the event. Goomes' line started at the top at the Scissor Drop then ran through looker’s right to end in the Snake Pit, the lower portion of the course that has a series of jumps and features. Goomes landed multiple backflips this week, including on the step-up jump and on the final hip jump just before the finish area.
- Hannah and Casey took their riding to the next level with career elevating runs, raising the bar for all riders in the space. Their line had a highly technical entrance off the top of the mountain that fed into a series of large, exposed drops.
- Vinny exhibited true grit after shaking off a minor ankle injury following her first run, then stepped up to complete a playful line with tact and composure. Entering at the Utah-res, she weaved down the middle of the mountain that highlighted her style of riding. She finished her run by dropping into the Snake Pit with explosive speed and style that she is known for.
- Vero and Georgia shared a gracefully executed run as they finessed their way off a drop into the heart of the course. This continued onto a series of large drops that showcased their individual styles on a technically challenging run.
- Rookie Red Bull Formation rider Louise Ferguson had full authority of her line for her first time on the mountain. Her run was clean, controlled, and confident through the middle of the course that made her look like a veteran, despite her first time riding in this challenging terrain.