Red Bull Imagination 3.0: Practice insanity continues
If this is practice, imagine the competition and energy that'll take place at the main event for Red Bull Imagination 2022.
What went down at Thursday’s Red Bull Imagination session was one for the record books. With ten of the best freeriders in the world taking on a life-sized playground course built by DreamTraxx and the first two days of riding under their belts, the riders hit the course with unmatched energy and determination in their final “expression session” before the competition. Vibes were at an all time high. Here are some of the highlights from the pre-competition jam session ahead of the main event on September 25.
As with any session, someone has to set it off and get the adrenaline pumping amongst the rider field. Axell Hodges came out swinging with a super slow backflip in the jump line next to the wall ride. Despite the sun beginning to set, this session had just started cranking as the rider’s were “warming up” for an epic couple of hours riding. Julien Vanstippen a super flip on the same jump to back up Hodges. From there, the creative juices spread like wildfire throughout the entire crew.
“It was a calm couple of days, and now the chaos has ensued,” said Tom Parsons, as the whole crew began to feed off of each other's energy. Guillem Navas added, “Madness, I don’t know - everyone’s going crazy upside-down and backwards.” But as the “madness” ensued, so did the infinite possibilities.
“Typical Tyler Bereman session…” said Parsons, he added, “He skips out on the morning session, does a couple warm-ups and he’s just going to go for the biggest jump man’s ever built.”
After a few days off due to a crash on the opening day, Bereman was ready to get back on par and show everyone why he’s the ring leader of this event in the first place.
The group grew silent in anticipation of Bereman’s line. Many riders stood watching, holding their breath, as he lined up and took off towards the 180 feet double. As Bereman cleared over the first 120 feet double, he committed and left the lip of the next double which towers at more than 180 feet long, reaching approximately 70 feet high. Bereman left the hip, the group was silent to witness him ride out of the last jump with only inches to spare. As he landed, engines revved, below clapped, screamed and some might have cried. Hugs and nodes of congratulations were passed around as Bereman just landed what some described as, “the gnarliest jump ever.” Everyone was left remembering just how far the energy of a session can progress the sport of freeriding. “You know sometimes you just feel those situations. I just turned my brain off and luckily it worked,” said Bereman.
Shortly after everyone took a breather and shook off the intensity of Bereman’s last jump, the session began again and Bereman, Hodges, Parsons, Christian Dresser and some of the other crew members followed each other closely into some whip-trains. This sparked a session that led not only to another slow-backflip for Hodges, but also for Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg.
Stenberg was only supposed to be judging the event, but the energy of this first real session had him throwing on his boots and backflipping one of the bigger jumps on the course. “Grandpa has to show them it can be done every once in a while,” said Stenberg.
As both Hodges and Stenberg have dropped some of the most progressive video parts in the freeriding world, witnessing their true skill unfold in real time was a super unique experience at Imagination 2022. Seeing the session energy that we’ve witnessed in video parts like Stenberg’s Chasing the Storm series recreated in real time was a contest first. Also, it is notable that Stenberg’s original Hoodrich Twitch movie paved the way for freeriding as a sport at its conception.
Hodges is no newcomer to progression either, as tricks like his nose wheelie front flip and his entire Slayground series recreated what we know freeriding as today.
Hodges is no newcomer to progression either, as tricks like his nose wheelie front flip and his entire Slayground series recreated what we know freeriding as today. The wheelie and nose wheelie combos that he filmed in these videos have sparked inspiration in free riders across the world to get involved in a sport that they once thought was out of reach. There’s no doubt that Stenberg and Hodges have made their mark inside freeriding through their video parts.
Vanstippen pulled out the showstopper during this backflip session though, as he one upped everyone involved with a picture perfect Indian air backflip over the same feature.
Before the sun fully set and the lights were turned on for the night session, Bereman had one last jump to take care of — another 150 foot plus feature. As he always seems to do though, Tyler handled it with ease as the crowd erupted once again and proclaimed that this may have well been one of the heaviest sessions they’ve ever witnessed.
The night session became the icing on the cake to what may have been one of the most high energy sessions in the history of freeriding. The crew enjoyed freeriding in the dark of night which was a first for many of them and continued to up the ante with whip lines and low-tech tricks that overflowed with style.
This Thursday session of Red Bull Imagination 2022 embodied what freeriding is all about. It’s the camaraderie and contagious energy that circulates amongst the riders that fuels the fire behind freeriding. As all of these riders fed off of that energy we saw heights reached that no-one thought possible on this year’s course.
Stay tuned for Red Bull Imagination’s main event on Sunday, September 25 at 5:00 PM ET.
How to watch Red Bull Imagination 3.0:
- U.S. Viewing: Available on ESPN+ and ESPN2
- Outside U.S. Viewing: Available on Red Bull TV