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The second running of Red Bull Formation started this week in the Utah desert, where the top women in freeride will showcase style, skill and ultra-precise riding on some of the most consequential terrain in mountain biking.
Formation, which debuted in October 2019 as the first freeride event centered specifically around women, picks it up where it left off—on the hallowed cliffs of Virgin, Utah, the same venue where Red Bull Rampage, widely considered to be the pinnacle in freeride, takes place. Formation will be held this time around at the 2008 Rampage site. While Rampage is a contest (and one that has only ever had male competitors in its 20-year history), Formation is more session-style. Participants envision, then dig their own lines down the face of the mountain, similar to Rampage, but the week doesn’t culminate in a podium place or prize money. Instead of a single-day final contest, the eight invited riders will spend a three days next weekend running their full lines as they push the collective progression of a niche of the sport that’s historically been dominated by men. Invited riders include Casey Brown, Hannah Bergemann, Chelsea Kimball, Samantha Soriano, Vinny Armstrong, Jess Blewitt, Vaea Verbeeck and Camila Nogueira.
Formation could someday lead to contest-style like Rampage, or run in conjunction with Rampage, which takes place in the fall, but for now, it’s a gateway to more possibilities for women, a goal up-and-comers can strive for, a formal platform for female freeriders to spend time in an environment that can progress the level of riding unlike anywhere else in the world, and most of all, a huge step toward better representation in mountain biking.
Formation is the brainchild of Katie Holden, a former pro turned creative who started digging at Rampage in anticipation of one day competing in that event. While that didn’t happen, she thought for years about what a women’s freeride event in Utah could look like, and pitched it to Red Bull in 2019. The first year came together quickly and rolled out with six invited riders without a lot of press or fanfare. But as images and video of the riders inching along knife-edge ridgelines before dropping into massive step-downs and greasing landings on huge hits, surfaced from the week, it became obvious just how groundbreaking the event would be. It marked a significant turning point in how the industry both viewed and supported women in freeride. Formation essentially launched the career of Hannah Bergemann, the only one of the original six competitors who wasn’t already a pro when Formation began. She stomped one of the biggest and most technical lines of the week, which ultimately catapulted her toward a full sponsorship with Transition Bikes.