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We’re fresh off the back of Red Bull Formation and reliving every moment

Red Bull Formation is a wrap for 2021 after a week of building and riding lines in the Utah desert. Catch up on all that took place at this women-only mountain bike freeride event.
By Gizelle McBride
8 min readPublished on
01

First days

When the sun sets behind the Southern Utah red rock canyons of Virgin, Utah, all activity at Red Bull Formation comes to a close. It's always a time for reflection among the eight athletes taking part and their respective digging crews. One thing has become clear during these first few days on site: a forced gap year had done nothing to dampen the spirits of the riders, who had all gathered to author a new era in the world of women’s freeride mountain biking.
Athletes attend a kick-off meeting at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 23, 2021.
Riders attend an athlete meeting prior to the course walkthrough
Eight of the best female freeride athletes from across the world –Hannah Bergemann, Camila Nogueira, Casey Brown, Chelsea Kimball, Jess Blewitt, Sam Soriano, Vaea Verbeeck, and Vinny Armstrong – have been on site of the mountainside chosen by organisers for the freedride contest in Virgin since May 23. They've been chomping at the bit to advance on the progress they'd made in 2019 at the inaugural event.
Athletes and diggers walk towards the course at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA, on May 24, 2021.
Time to see the course
The competitors have once again been aided by support teams that included some of the most accomplished action sports athletes in the world, with the likes of Michelle Parker, Brooklyn Bell, Krystin Norman, Lexi Dupont, Jaxson Riddle and Carson Storch bringing an added layer of support and mentorship to the process.
Competitors on the course at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 24, 2021.
With multiple eyes on each line, the possibilities are endless.
Vinny Armstrong, Jess Blewitt walk the course at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 24, 2021.
Vinny Armstrong and Jess Blewitt eye a potential line to ride
“The course this year is quite a bit bigger, so we have a lot more options to work with,” Bergemann said after setting eyes on the course. “And it’s also quite a bit longer, which will make runs more difficult but will also allow us to be more creative. With that added room to work with, I’m planning on building a bigger line and having more features in it this year, which I’m excited about.”
Hannah Bergemann, Brooklyn Bell and Krystin Norman pose for a 'dig day' portrait at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 26, 2021.
Hannah Bergemann with digger crew members Brooklyn Bell and Krystin Norman
With picture-perfect conditions from dawn to dusk, the excitement was at a fever pitch from the moment competitors stepped on to the course. Once group planning and support sessions wrapped, competitors and their support crews went on a site walk that was punctuated with giddy laughter and exuberant gazes downhill as each rider envisioned how they wanted to attack the course. It's already clear that this year’s event is going to be special.
Chelsea Kimball and Kaia Jensen at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 25, 2021.
Kimball and Kaia Jensen do course planning at Red Bull Formation
“Everyone has a bit more of an idea of what they’re getting into this time around,” said Bergemann after completing the walkthrough. “The first year, we weren’t sure what we’re getting into. It was our first time building full lines out here, so we were careful not to bite off more than we could chew. This year, everyone’s keen to take it a bit further.”
02

Time to get digging

The last buckets of red dirt have been shovelled, watered and packed down as riders and dig teams at Red Bull Formation draw three days of course excavation to a close. With one day for the eight world-class freeriders to rest before getting back on course, one thing is certain: history will be made at this year’s Red Bull Formation.
The venue for Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA as seen in May 2021.
The site for this year’s Red Bull Formation is a playground for imagination
“I think my initial impression looking at the course this year, was that I’m just blown away by how far the ladies have improved in such a short time span,” says Michelle Parker, who is working as a digger and support crew this year. “The stuff we’re building right now is way bigger than the first year – it’s incredible to see the progression so far.”
Michelle Parker laughs while she digs at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 25, 2021.
“This event is all about teamwork,” says Parker
For Parker, the prevailing theme through the first days of digging can be summarised in one word: teamwork. With larger support crews this time around and an overarching attitude of 'many hands make light work', the riders have been able to shape lines straight out of their wildest dreams.
Dillon Lemarr, Brock Crouch, Michelle Parker work on a line at Redbull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 25, 2021.
Michelle Parker, Brock Crouch, and Dillon Lemarr build Red Bull Formation
And one rider in particular – Utah’s own Chelsea Kimball – has really allowed her imagination to run wild.
“Chelsea is building a brand-new feature, and I was immediately drawn to that,” says Parker who spent much of her first days on-course digging for Kimball. “Out here, in this part of the country, we are usually resurrecting a lot of old lines. But Chelsea saw something she was inspired by at all these sites and found an area that had never been built on before. To create something new somewhere that’s never been built on? That’s epic.”
Carson Storch, Jess Blewitt, Vinny Armstrong and their diggers work on a line at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 25, 2021.
This year there are no limits on the lines athletes can build
Kimball’s feature is a huge stepdown located mid-mountain on the contest course, a true 'you have to see it to believe it' freeride feature immense in both scale and technicality. And, for good measure, after spending multiple days building this all-new stepdown feature, the dig teams decided to add a canyon gap after the runout.
View of Chelsea Kimball's line at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 27, 2021.
Chelsea Kimball's line
“We’ve basically moved the entire mountain to build these features,” said Parker. “But we’re excited for them. I think, at first, Chelsea was doubting it could happen. But now that we’re getting closer, she can see it forming. And that has inspired me to dig harder.”
03

Testing lines and hitting runs

The ride days are well underway at Red Bull Formation, with the hours spent over the week scouting, digging and adjusting paying off in epic mountain biking sessions.
Hannah Bergemann, Michelle Parker, Vinny Armstrong hike bikes up the venue on ride day 1 at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 29 May, 2021.
To ride you have to hike your bike up the mountainside first
Hannah Bergemann hikes her bike to the top of the venue at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Having hiked up, Hannah Bergemann gets ready to ride part of her line
With the sun beating down, the athletes began to chip away at pieces of their lines, hoping to bring it all together in a top-to-bottom run on the final day of Formation on June 1. Bergmann, Brown and Soriano all rode at the top of the course during practice and they completely nailed their top feature after a few attempts.
Casey Brown, Hannah Bergemann stand at the top of "The Ovary" and discuss the drop in at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Brown and Bergemann discuss the drop in at 'The Ovary' feature
“I was definitely battling a few demons up there,” said Brown after completing the top portion of her line. “But I’m so glad that I was able to nail this part.”
Casey Brown drops "The Ovary" at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Casey Brown drops in at 'The Ovary'
“I’m definitely shaking,” said Soriano, who also hit the treacherous top portion right after Casey. “But I’m glad to have gotten it over with. I had someone count me in because I couldn’t do it myself.”
Jess Blewitt and Vinny Armstrong hit a step up at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Jess Blewitt and Vinny Armstrong style it up on a step up
Verbeeck, Nogueira and Kimball also worked on the higher features of their chosen lines. The crowd of diggers, mentors and staff all erupted into cheers when they nailed their sections.
Chelsea Kimball rides a ridge line at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Chelsea Kimball nailed this ridge line
“I was working on my double drop but heard that Chelsea was going, so I ran down to see it,” said Bergmann. “It was really cool to see since it’s a new feature.”
Vaea Verbeeck drops into the rideg from the top of the venue at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Vaea Verbeeck higher up on her line
And in a surprise return to the course after resting, Armstrong and Blewitt began to work their top features late in the afternoon, taking advantage of the momentary cease in wind to hit their lines.
Jess Blewitt hits "The Plastic Bag Drop" on ride day 2 at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 30 May, 2021.
Jess Blewitt hitting the 'The Plastic Bag Drop'
Stay tuned for when the athletes put it all together on the final ride day on June 1. Follow @RedBullBike to catch the finale of Red Bull Formation.
04

Bringing it all together for the final ride day

All of the week's anticipation culminated into a day of epic top-to-bottom lines. For the athletes it was time to go big one final time before this edition of Red Bull Formation concluded.
Cami Nogueira rides her line at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on May 30, 2021.
Cami Nogueira drops in to begin riding her line down to the bottom
First up was Hannah Bergemann, who crushed her line. After an initial test of the middle portion of the venue, Bergemann dropped in at the top of the mountain. With two double-drops, her run was steep and technical, inspiring confidence in the other athletes when she skidded to a stop at the end gate.
Hannah Bergemann hits a drop at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021.
Hannah Bergemann's line was steep
“She really set the tone for the event in a big way by sending that run,” Katie Holden, one of the founding organisers for the event, said. “It levelled up the girls to own their lines.”
Hannah Bergemann lands the double drop she built in the middle of her line at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021.
Bergemann executed her double drops perfectly
Second to send was Chelsea Kimball, who was the only athlete to create a brand-new feature on the course, a drop-in to a gap jump over a canyon. Speed and wind had to be factored into her approach to the feature, but everything worked out for her to lay down a memorable run.
“She envisioned this feature, built it and nailed it. She did what she came for and worked her tail off on this one,” Vaea Verbeeck commented.
Chelsea Kimball hits a canyon gap at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021.
The canyon gap in the bag for Chelsea Kimball
The other six athletes all began to drop-in to their lines, appearing gravity-defying, as they pieced together everything that they encountered during the week.
“I truly believe I accomplished everything that I wanted to do at Red Bull Formation,” Cami Nogueira said. “And that was to push myself out of my comfort zone and ride something epic.”
Jess Blewitt hits the double drop on ride day 3 at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021.
Fearless and committed was most definitely the vibe for these women
Vaea Verbeeck rides a steep ridge at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021
Formation can only get bigger and better
As the camp neared a close, one athlete walked away with an accolade: the Evolution in Action Award, presented by event sponsor Arc’teryx.
While Formation is about collaboration rather than competition, athletes had the opportunity to vote for a participant that represents the values of Red Bull Formation: leading with a 'rising tide' mentality, pushing themselves to their full potential, but also lifting those around them with excellence on and off the course.
Walking away with the award was none other than Hannah Bergmann.
Hannah Bergemann wins the Evolution in Action Award presented by Arc'Teryx at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021
It's always nice to be recognised by your fellow athletes
“The thing I’m most proud of is to ride in a way that inspires confidence in everyone else,” Bergmann said upon accepting the award.
Athletes, diggers and Katie Holden pose for a group portrait at Red Bull Formation in Virgin, Utah, USA on 31 May, 2021.
The athletes, diggers and mentors of Red Bull Formation 2021
For further content from Red Bull Formation including event highlights, a YouTube series and a Red Bull TV documentary, stay updated on all Red Bull channels.