Cameron Zink capped off an incredible 2010 season with the coveted Red Bull Rampage title today, throwing a massive 360 drop off the Oakley Icon Sender.
The final was filled with burly crashes, amazing runs and a back-and-forth battle with Mother Nature that threatened to shut the event down altogether. Through all the drama and uncertainty, Zink managed to land one of the biggest moves in freeriding history to take both the top spot on the podium and the best trick honours.
The weather was perfect this morning at the Red Bull Rampage venue near Virgin, USA, but a check of the radar showed some sketchy conditions set to hit in early afternoon, so the pressure was on to get every rider down the course at least once.
Tyler McCaul was first out of the #1 gate, and he set the tone early with a hard-charging style, burning through the upper ridge before dropping the triple, throwing a no-hander and airing over the step-up boulder. Alex Prochazka was close behind with the same upper ridge line to the triple, but with the hard left turn after the massive step-down that he used in Qualifying. He then attempted a drop off the other boulder, blowing up on the landing.
Gee Atherton established a big lead with his first run, firing through the upper ridge line and taking an original hard-right-to-drop line, taking the step-down and becoming the only rider to successfully pull the huge gap into the quarter at the bottom of the course (sequence below). Gee was creative, fast and stylish, setting the bar pretty damn high early in the game, a mark no one could top with their first runs.
Andreu Lacondeguy switched his line from Qualifying to charge from the #2 gate to the Oakley Icon Sender, following it with a massive backflip over the 45-foot double just after it. He added another flip up the step-up and a no-hander into the bottom section of the course.
Thomas Vanderham was the first to hit the 62-foot canyon gap in the final, landing a little nose-heavy but surviving; unfortunately, he got hung up on a bush later in his run. In fact, several riders seemed to drift slightly off their lines only to be taken out by a bush, leading announcers Brad Ewen and Cam McCaul to preach about the pitfalls of a gnarly bush (in your line, of course).
When Cam Zink’s name was called, all the other riders scrambled to get a view of the Icon Sender, knowing that he was planning to go for a 360 off of it. Cam called it out early in the week, and it simply didn’t seem possible. Throwing a rotation 30 feet out and 40 feet down into a steep, somewhat sketchy landing was just about the ballsiest move to go for on the course, but Cam was completely determined. He tore through his line on the top ridge and went for the three with no hesitation, spinning what looked like a perfect rotation. He was so close, but got just a hair sideways and went down, ringing his bell a bit in the process. We were left wondering if he’d be able to take another crack at it, and honestly, no one would have blamed him if he hadn’t.
"In all honesty, I’d rather win Red Bull Rampage than any other event.” -Cameron Zink
Kyle Strait was next up, and he floated a perfect no-hander off the Icon Sender, followed by a superman seatgrab over the 45-footer. Geoff Gulevich turned in a solid run, flipping the 45-footer after styling the Icon Sender and blasting through his upper ridge line. Robbie Bourdon pulled a good score with a unique line starting with a big drop out of the gate, and Kurt Sorge landed a clean shot across the canyon gap.
After a quick break, the riders headed back up to their gates to lay down their second runs. Gee got everything he wanted out of his line on his first run, so he opted to sit out; he was in first with Lacondeguy in second and Gulevich in third.
After five runs from gate #1, the gate #2 riders came down off the top ridge under threatening skies and hefty wind gusts, and the event went on hold to wait for better conditions. For well over an hour, the outlook rapidly changed as intermittent dark clouds passed over the venue, bringing light rain and heavy winds interspersed with windows of sunshine. The riders eventually remounted, with the rest of the event squeezed into the brighter spots of the afternoon.
Lacondeguy went for it on his second run, throwing a no-handed flip over the 45-footer only to nose-case the landing. Vanderham improved his score with a perfect no-hander over the canyon gap (sequence above), which set up Zink’s return to the gate.
Although the weather delays wreaked havoc with the riders waiting to take their runs, they actually helped Zink clear his head a bit from the effects of his first-run crash. Amazingly, he went for the 360 again, sticking the landing and driving to the finish to overtake the lead. It was a history-making moment, and the crowd on hand went crazy.
The remaining riders were unable to unseat Zink, and it eventually came down to the final competitor, Darren Berrecloth (pictured below). Claw was attempting the line he was unable to complete in 2008, an original run with multiple drops and a wallride, packed with nimble direction changes in the top section. He blew a pedal high up on the line and almost went down in flames, somehow holding it together to hit all of his other moves. He 360'd a drop at the end, achieving his goal and earning a podium spot in the process.
Zink not only pulled off the win and the best trick award at Red Bull Rampage, he also wrapped up the 2010 FMB overall title – not a bad weekend, and a great way to end one of his best seasons.
“Being the Red Bull Rampage champion is a dream,” Zink said after the event. "I won Crankworx twice and that’s something on its own, but this is one of the first real mountain biking contests ever. To win it is the most amazing thing in the world. In all honesty, I’d rather win Red Bull Rampage than any other event.”
Another epic Red Bull Rampage event is now in the books, with the world’s best freeriders once again gathered in the world’s premier freeriding venue. Zink’s 360 officially upped the ante, and a new breed of young riders got their first taste of the event they dreamed about while making their way up through the sport. Red Bull Rampage continues to inspire, and will continue to push the frontier of big-mountain freeriding for years to come.
1. Cameron Zink (USA) 89.2
2. Gee Atherton (England) 82.4
3. Darren Berrecloth (Canada) 81.2
4. Andreu Lacondeguy (Spain) 79.0
5. Geoff Gulevich (Canada) 77.2
6. Thomas Vanderham (Canada) 76.6
7. Robbie Bourdon (Canada) 76.0
8. Kyle Strait (USA) 75.6
9. Logan Binggeli (USA) 74.8
10. Kurt Sorge (Canada) 73.0
11. Alex Prochazka (Canada) 72.2
12. Tyler McCaul (USA) 71.8
13. Graham Agassiz (Canada) 71.0
14. Cedric Gracia (France) 70.4
15. Greg Watts (USA) 65.6
16. Michal Marosi (Czech Republic) 64.2
17. Jamie Goldman (USA) 63.8
18. Curtis Robinson (Canada) 62.4
(Mike Hopkins, Chris Van Dine and James Doerfling did not complete a full run)