Understanding Each Rider’s Line at Red Bull Formation 2022

by | May 14, 2022

Photos by Re Wikstrom & Natalie Starr / Red Bull

From looker’s left to right, more or less:

Vaea Verbeeck:

Vaea’s line is exposed and dramatic, starting with a committing drop-in before flirting with the ridgeline for the rest of the descent.

Starting at the very top of the site, the line follows the upper ridge for a bit off a square-looking feature that’s been named the Scissor Drop, then does a low-speed, 180-degree turn before a committing entrance takes Vaea across the mountain and off a jump that sends her up and over the ridge. Looker’s left of the ridge at the edge of the venue, there’s a step-down and two shark-fin jumps that take her back up onto the ridge.

Back on the ridge, the line follows all the ridge’s fall-line topography: “Down, step-down, step-down, skipper, big hip, roller, roller, skipper, drop off the end of the ridge.” After the large, techy drop down to the mid-mountain road, there’s a small lip that launches her over the road and sets her up for a massive moto step-down. To finish, she plans to hit a trick step-up that’s shared with Vero and Georgia.

The first drop-in is shared with Vero and Georgia, but after that first bench, the whole ridge is Vaea’s own. After the moto step-down, some of the other girls will join her line to hit the last jump, a step-up where Vero’s team has been putting in some work.

What feature are you most excited about?

“I picked this line for the massive hip on the ridge. I saw it a few months ago and was like, ‘This is definitely a legendary hip.'” Vaea chose the ridgeline because hitting that one hip was a big goal. It’s still the feature she’s most excited about, but she said that the build has led into some other, spicier goals, so the hip is no longer what makes her the most nervous.

Where’s the crux of the line?

The drop after the hip is the new crux of Vaea’s line. “We’re going for the full package,” she said. The drop is not only huge, but leaves little room for error, with a rocky takeoff and a large gap to clear.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

The mental piece of the puzzle, Vaea said, is the most important thing. “Just keeping my brain shut so that I don’t let the little fear creatures creep up. And lots of bench pressing that I’ve done in the past!”

Georgia Astle & Vero Sandler:
Georgia and Vero teamed up to make sure they could build everything they wanted to. In such a time-crunched span of three days, efficiency was important, and all the riders shared at least parts of their lines. The line Georgia and Vero built combines a few different elements: There’s steep, committing tech, big drops typical of Utah, and fun jumps that are more similar to what Vero tends to ride. Both wanted to challenge themselves in new ways, but made sure to include elements that they’d find fun, too.

The line starts the same way as Vaea’s line, taking the riders off Scissor Drop before the committing chute – which includes about a 5′ to 7′ drop – brings them to the first bench. They split off the bench into a “freeride slashy” section down to join Casey’s and Hannah’s line at a lower bench, which includes some high-speed, fairly large drops. Georgia said that since most of the features in this zone require riders to crawl in, the faster drops will be a lot of fun. Then, there’s a series of jumps and an interesting nose-bonk feature before the mid-mountain road. After crossing the road, they’ll hit a step-down, a freshly-built trick jump, another step-down, and a finishing step-up. It has a great mix of all kinds of elements, Vero said.

What feature are you most excited about?

The entrance off the ridge, Georgia said, will be a relief to check off because it’s so exposed and steep. She’s also excited for the big, fast drop midway down. Vero said she’s always excited for a trick jump, so she’s looking forward to trying out the jump they just built.

Where’s the crux of the line?

“Definitely the drop-in,” Georgia said. Vero also said it’s the piece that makes her the most nervous because it’s very different from what she normally rides, partly because of the exposure and partly because they’ll have to make a sharp 180-degree turn right before creeping into it as slowly as possible. “Hopefully it’ll work good,” she said. “I’m excited to try that out and see how it goes.”

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

When I asked riders about the specific skills they’d need, nearly all of them mentioned confidence. “Definitely staying strong on your bike and remembering speed, because everything is really blind, but confidence is number one,” Georgia said. “So I’m going to try to channel that.” Vero said she’s unfamiliar with the terrain, so for her, learning the desert terrain is part of the challenge for her. Because the line includes both steep tech and trick jumps, it requires all-around bike-handling skills, Vero added.

Hannah Bergemann & Casey Brown:

Most people wouldn’t look at that entrance and go “ah yeah, that seems like a good thing to ride,” but these ladies aren’t most people. Yes, that’s a rope in the first photo. It’s that steep. The second photo shows Hannah working on their landing with Vero’s, Vaea’s, and Georgia’s entrance dropping to the looker’s left.

Hannah Bergemann and Casey Brown picked a stout line that Hannah described as “the next step up” compared to the line she rode last year. The duo revamped Brett Rheeder’s 2015 Rampage line and added their own flair. From the ridge, it drops off a “diving board style” drop with a steep landing, then into a sharp right turn. Benching along the mountain and joining with Vero’s and Georgia’s line, it hits a series of drops and jumps including a “pretty sizeable” drop in the middle. Toward the bottom, it hits a few jumps above the road, then a hip step-down, a trick jump, and another step-down to the bottom, allowing both of the veteran riders to check off some challenging features, push their limits, and have fun with their riding. “Lots of jumps, a little bit of steep tech, and some drops,” Hannah said. The line has it all.

What feature are you most excited about?

The most rewarding feature on the course, both girls said, will probably be the top diving board drop entrance. “That’s the most challenging one, mentally,” Casey said. The team spent more time working on that section than on anything else and it’s by far the most intimidating feature on the line. Hannah said it’ll be the gnarliest feature she has ridden out here in the desert so far.

Where’s the crux of the line?

The crux, of course, is that entrance off the ridge. “Well, slowing down after that” is the crux move, Casey said. A few factors add to its difficulty: not only is it wild in itself, but the exposure adds to the head game. “When you commit to having your gnarliest feature at the top, it’s more exposed up there, and it’s vital for your whole line, so you want to make sure you get it good,” Hannah said.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

Confidence, confidence, confidence. Hannah said it’s important to make sure she trusts herself and trusts that she’s ready. Brake control also received another mention, and lastly, just plain having a good time.

Louise Ferguson:

Louise’s line stays on the ridge a bit longer than the previous girls’ line until it reaches what the riders have named The U or The Uterus. She’ll drop through The Uterus as she cuts diagonally looker’s right on a section shared with Vinny, away from Cami’s fall-line entrance, then off Vinny’s line back toward Cami’s on a new bench that Louise’s crew has built.

After her traverse, she’ll rejoin Cami’s line on the central ridge, where braking control will be crucial. The ridge includes a steep, committing double drop, then a couple of berms, a skipper jump, and a hip and a step-up. The step-up is her own as she splits to the looker’s right from Cami’s line to then join Georgia and Vero for their final jumps.

“It’s like – exposed top, technical middle on the ridgeline with bigger features, and then the last section should be cruisey and jumps, more of a party run. We’re trying to get a good mix.”

Louise is the only one of the 12 riders who has not been to Formation before, whether as a digger or a rider. Given that she’s the only true rookie, it’s especially impressive to see the bold line she’s put together – one that’s aesthetically striking, incorporates some of her own style, and gives her lots of chances to collaborate with the other riders.

What feature are you most excited about?

Louise said she was both excited and nervous about the double drop, so it felt great to check that off on the final dig day. Still, even more than the features themselves, she’s looking forward to figuring out the tough spots with the other riders, and said she’s especially excited about “sharing bits of the lines with the other girls because then we can ride together and progress together and I can learn from them and we can just have fun.”

Where’s the crux of the line?

She thought it would be the double drop, but upon hitting that (and absolutely crushing it), she said she found the setup for the next hip jump to be fairly technical. “I’ll get back to you on that once I’ve ridden more of the line,” she said.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

A good mental game to handle the exposure: “Being able to relax and take a deep breath,” she said, but added that brake control is especially crucial in the steep, unforgiving desert terrain. Judging speed will be important for the bottom jumps, too.

Cami Nogueira:

Cami’s line is steep and straight, and might be the most visually stunning of them all. Above, she tests the double drop that she shares with Louise.

Cami also drops in through The Uterus, but stays pointed down the fall line where Louise and Vinny move diagonally. There’s a small drop, then an extremely steep section that brings her onto the center ridge. Then, it’s straight down the ridge, with steeps and relatively small drops along the way, to the large double drop that she shares with Louise. After that, she’ll hit three jumps, cross the road, pedal a bit to hit a large step-down that’s entirely her own, then meet up with Haz’s and Robin’s line to finish on some jumps.

Looking up at the mountain from the base area, Cami’s line is nearly impossible to miss. It cuts straight down the mountain, and where others have opted to incorporate turns and benches into their lines, Cami has chosen the most direct route straight down the mountain. It’s steep, unrelenting, and certainly a statement.

What feature are you most excited about?

Cami is most excited for the entrance, which she said will probably be the gnarliest part of her line. She also said she’s stoked to hit the big drop after the road crossing.

Where’s the crux of the line?

“The first section, for sure,” she said.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

Being smooth and controlled is especially important on such a steep, exposed line, Cami said. There’s not much traction to be found, so “you have to brake in the spots that you have,” she explained.

Vinny Armstrong:

Vinny’s 2021 line didn’t start quite at the top of the mountain, so she wanted to make sure to start up there this time, she said.

From the very top, she takes the Scissor Drop down to The U, down her shared drop-in with Louise and across the mountain in what the riders have named Diagon Alley “because it’s like a little alleyway and you go on a diagonal.”

After Diagon Alley, Vinny is on her own. Unlike most of the other riders, who teamed up to work more efficiently and collaborate while they work through the features, Vinny has taken the lone wolf approach. The line traverses across the mountain, away from Louise’s line to a raw chute into a catch-berm, traverses again, and hits a double drop and then a big step-down in quick succession, then a big, floaty hip. She cuts through a small notch in the rocks above the road, traverses again, hits a big hip that has potential for a nose-bonk on a nearby rock “if I get comfy enough,” she said, then crosses the road. “Then into the rhythm straight to home run,” she said.

If the circumstances is right, she may join Robin’s and Haz’s jumps below the road on her way to the bottom. No matter what, whichever jumps she ends up hitting, we can expect to see lots of style and a few good tricks from the Queenstown local.

What feature are you most excited about?

Vinny is most excited for the big step-down toward the top and the big mid-mountain hip. It’s a right hip, “the perfect way I hip,” she said. “I think it will be quite fun to session it,” she added. “It’s a small area, so you can quickly push up and session it. It will be quite fun.”

Where’s the crux of the line?

The exposure on the upper ridge means that the top section will likely be the hardest, Vinny said. The big hip toward the bottom will be tough, too, because it’s blind and figuring out the speed could be scary. “But otherwise, I think everything should be pretty sweet.”

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

Bike control, comfort in the air, and knowing how to pull up off of big drops to land nicely, even at lower speeds, will all be important as the line mixes low-speed tech with big air.

Sam Soriano:
Sam shares most of her line with Haz and Robin, aside from a couple of small moments. It’s also essentially Carson Storch’s 2014 Rampage line, minus a few ramps at the end. It follows the upper ridge down before jumping off and down to a series of drops, hits a right berm, and stays steep through a triple drop section. After it crosses the road, a hip shares a landing with Chelsea’s line, then it’ll be all jumps to the bottom.

The Colorado rider has been living in the Utah desert lately and continues to hone her desert riding skills. At last year’s Formation, she worked on an ambitious line that had her checking off some burly features, but she took a different approach this time. Rather than scare herself the whole time on riding that was right at the edge of her abilities, she opted to build features that she felt would help her highlight her riding style and have a great time on the way down.

What feature are you most excited about?

The “three-drop steep part,” Sam said, is the most exciting part.

Where’s the crux of the line?

The same exciting steep part, Sam said, might be the crux, but it doesn’t stand out too much above the other sections. Her aim with the build was to create something she could ride confidently enough to make it her own: “I don’t want to discredit the line and say it’s simplistic but genuinely it is,” she said, “but having it be simplistic, it’s easier to add in your own personal riding flair rather than just being puckered the whole time.” Note that although Sam may call it simplistic, the line is still f*cking gnarly.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

Having fun and being in the right headspace, Sam said, will best set her up to ride her best.

Robin Goomes & Harriet “Haz” Burbidge-Smith:
Robin and Haz, the Southern Hemisphere senders, teamed up to pack a whole lot of raw gnar and a full-on jump line into their route. And, aside from a few minor variations on some of the drops and jumps – namely a big drop near the bottom – their line is identical to Sam’s. It follows the ridgeline, then over a double and off a hip that will “shoot you down the face of the mountain,” Haz said, “which will be cool.” The next part is natural and raw, so that’s what they’re calling the “natty section” before the “flow section.” Where Sam’s line hits a relatively small double and a hip to join the landing of Chelsea’s drop, Robin and Haz will link to Chelsea’s line a bit sooner and will hit the drop with Chelsea. Like Sam’s line, this one will link up the exposed ridgeline at the top, techy steeps in the middle, and jumps at the bottom – a main trick jump, a traverse to the other side to a skipper, step-down, and step-up, then a final trick jump.

What feature are you most excited about?

Haz said she’s excited about the triple drop chute, but she’s also stoked to hit the bottom jumps. “Hopefully we’re not too cooked so I can have fun with that,” she said. Robin is especially hyped on the drop just below the road crossing, the one that she and Haz share with Chelsea – “because it’s like, large, and it’s pretty classic Virgin, UT style.”

Where’s the crux of the line?

The chute is probably the most difficult move in itself, Haz said, but every element has its challenges and nothing on its own stands out as a particular focal point. Outside of the features, Robin also said the toughest part will probably be “the stunts” she’ll do on it.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

The lower section will take “techy jump skills,” Haz said, because it’ll be important to ride each jump perfectly to carry enough speed for the rest of the line. In terms of the other skills needed, Robin said “a good attitude” is important above all else, “if that’s a skill.”

Chelsea Kimball:

Chelsea’s tech drop is bonkers.

“I start from the top and end at the bottom. There’s some stuff in between,” Chelsea helpfully explained when I asked about her line. “Maybe six to nine features, it’ll probably take about four minutes and 20 seconds to get down.” In more detail, Chelsea’s line, like the other ladies using the looker’s right side of the mountain, she’ll hit the Scissor Drop and several ridgeline jumps, then the hip off the ridge. Off the ridge, she’ll split from the others’ lines and make her own way. “Some skidder stuff” will bring her to her two drops – the first one techy and precise, the second one a little more fun. Next, there’s a long-and-low double, the drop she shares with Haz and Robin, then a finishing step-up.

What feature are you most excited about?

Chelsea said she thinks the second drop of her two-drop section will be the most fun, and she’s hoping to get a sui on it.

Where’s the crux of the line?

“Definitely” the steep drop before the “fun” one. It’s steep, slow, and lands on a tiny ledge on a goat trail that makes several of us a little bit terrified to watch.

What skills will be most important to successfully ride this line?

The most important skill in Virgin, UT, in general, Chelsea said, is brake control.

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