Words from Luke Whitlock:
Practice went great all week and was feeling great on my line choice and tricks. Come Friday morning, in qualifying, I was able to put down a solid safety run which had me sitting in 4th place after run 1. Come the end of run 2 I was bumped out of the qualifying bubble into 6th and was forced to do a second run as the last rider to drop. My run was going great until the second to last jump, where I then overshot a flip nac to flat resulting in a hard crash over the bars. I had to take my first run score which was only good enough for 6th place, 1.5 points off the 5th place rider, and just one spot shy of qualifying for finals the next day. Super bummed to have crashed out but grateful to be competing with the top 28 free riders in the world.
Words from Dylan Cobern
Proving grounds 2022 was nothing short of a dream come true. This has been something that I have been diligently working towards for the entire year of 2021 and into 2022. I had spent a lot of time honing my tricks that I had planned to perform on course, specifically down to which trick would work best for each feature that I wanted to hit.
I came into day one of Proving Grounds very set on the line that I had wanted to ride from watching the previous years’ highlights of the course. I chose to ride the main middle line leading into the Meat Cannon, a 30-35ft long drop, into the Redbull jump and off the Marzocchi Bomber drop. Little did I know, I was about to face a fair bit of adversity.
On the morning of the second day of practice, a day before qualies, I had the most unfortunate event of mechanicals happen back to back, which cost me about an hour and a half out of the 3 hours of practice we had to ride before the wind picked up. After a stressful frame swap, I hiked back up and tried to salvage any practice time I could. After a crash up top on a 360 drop and battling the wind, I left this day very frustrated, unsure, and confused with myself as to what I should be doing come the following morning.
The evening before qualies, I was in the worst head space I could have been in and decided last minute to abandon my original plan as for the tricks I wanted to do on my line and resorted to a much more playful plan filled with big extension tricks. It was the only thing that helped wrench me out of the mental pit I was in. I struggled for speed all week on the jumps, and on top of the mechanicals, I had to go with this revised plan of mine to try and do the best I could given my circumstances.
I woke up the morning of qualies excited and ready to get after it on course. We were set to compete Thursday morning, but due to horrible wind conditions we had concluded to push it back to Friday morning. Poised at the top of the world (as far as it felt), I bumped knuckles with Darren, the infamous count-down announcer for Redbull Rampage, and took that first pedal stroke towards this manifested dream brought to life.
As it went similar to practice, in my runs I had struggled for speed and comfort on the jumps to where I wasn’t able to trick. I had achieved my main goal of no-foot-canning the 35ft drop, making it the biggest drop to date that I have ever done a trick like that on, and made it down clean to the bottom for both of my runs. I’d be lying if I said I was happy with my runs and performance. I was frustrated at the mistakes made, pedal slips and lack of speed. I left the table feeling as though it was fully set for the taking. I fully believe that I am meant to be here and that I have earned my spot in this sport. I am beyond hungry to get back next year and put down the run that was meant to be.
Logan Binggeli | Team Management