AXELL HODGES RECLAIMS FREERIDE VICTORY ON THE LARGEST FREERIDE COURSE IN THE WORLD AT RED BULL IMAGINATION
Tyler Bereman and Julien Vanstippen Complete the Podium in Second and Third Place Respectively
Viewers can Watch the Competition Highlights on ESPN2, ESPN+ or Red Bull TV
KANSAS, Sept. 25, 2022 – Every so often a unique and exceptional phenomenon comes along leaving almost every person in its presence speechless – the third year of Red Bull Imagination was kind of like that. Event visionary Tyler Bereman proved that there were plenty of ideas left in the tank, as he and Jason Baker of Dream Traxx brought forth a course so large and dense that it set a new standard for the already watershed event. To put it to use, ten of the world’s top freeriders journeyed to Fort Scott, Kansas for a week of remarkable action and progression, taking the sport to new heights, figuratively (and almost literally as well). As freeriding is not all about competition, a three-day “expression session” preserved the integrity of the sport before the final event day that saw Axell Hodges claim a victory with Bereman and Julien Vanstippen earning second and third place, respectively.
The terms “art” and “dirt bikes” aren’t usually used in the same sentence to describe anything, let alone freeride motocross, but there are few words to translate the visual impact of this year’s course. Rookie and returning riders, judges, and spectators were stunned at first sight of it, with some describing it as “an art installation in its purest form,” and others’ just shaking their head in disbelief. The bespoke playground spans twelve square acres and contains more than 120 confirmed jumps (an increase from 94 jumps in 2021). The smallest jump was an estimated 65 feet long and the largest jump reached more than 160 feet. Once the initial shock wore off, the riders took to this “art installation” and used their dirt bikes like paint brushes to bring it to life.
The complete lineup of riders at Red Bull Imagination 2022 included:
- Red Bull Imagination visionary, host, and 10-time X Games medalist Tyler Bereman
- 2022 X Games Gold medalist, 12-time X Games overall medalist Axell Hodges
- 2022 X Games ‘Best Whip’ Gold medalist, six-time X Games overall medalist Tom Parsons
- Four-time X Games medalist and World Record Holder Vicki Golden
- Two-time X Games medalist and current freeride motocross rider Josh Hill
- 2022 Hill Jam ‘Best Whip’ winner freerider Christian Dresser
- 2022 X Games quarterpipe medalist Guillem Navas
- Two-time X Games medalist Julien Vanstippen
- X Games participant Kohl Denney
- Best Style at Farm Jam New Zealand rider Lewi Woods
The top of the week started with the riders steadying their nerves and feeling out the course for the first time. But what started with hesitation quickly turned into enthusiasm, and it didn’t take long before everyone was feeding off each other’s energy, navigating the jumps, finessing the technicality, and truly pushing each other to try more and more. Riders brought their A-game in every way possible, often hitting a line so creative others might not have envisioned it before. And because everything was taller, bigger, steeper, and more technical, the anticipation, camaraderie and downright fun persevered all week long. By Thursday’s final session, the skills on display were astounding, and the vibe was unmatched.
Some of the expression session highlights included:
- Bereman hitting an iconic 184-foot jump at approximately 70 feet in the air – soaring for about six seconds and stealing the attention of every single person on the course, before finally pulling off a somewhat sketchy landing. The entire place erupted in celebration with raw emotion and many describing it as “the gnarliest jump they had ever seen.”
- Golden shined in true form as a leader amongst the other riders in the practice sessions. She led the pack into the 120-foot road gap transfer over the container just before dark, which inspired Twitch, Hodges and Vanstippen’s back flip session later that night.
- Shortly after, Vanstippen hipped a transfer from the technical jib zone to K-Dubs Kingdom and landed a 130-foot super flip, sending the riders and onsite personnel into a roar.
- Jeremy ‘Twitch’ Stenberg, Hodges and Denney landed backflip transfers thereafter, while the other riders hit the jump with whips and nac nac’s.
On competition day, the riders had two three-minute windows to ‘wow’ the judges and showcase their most artistic line they had dreamt up all week. The riders were scored on magnitude, creativity, execution, and the overall line they carved on the competition day with only the best single score run counted. The panel of legendary judges included Robbie Maddison, ‘Twitch,’ Steve Haughelstine, and Ronnie Faisst, observed the competition from a tower overlooking the entire course.
Australian Woods opened the competition, giving the first-time spectators a rich taste of what the next several hours of riding would bring. Denney was next, and in true Denney fashion, the vibe of his button-down shirt was all party as he led off his run with a backflip nac nac on the big air zone. Navas, Vanstippen, Parsons, Dresser and Hill maximized creativity through their lines, hitting massive whips, flipping the “moon booter,” and throwing no footers over the “dumb and dumber” double jumps. Bereman and Hodges followed suit, giving the crowd an absolute show, and arguably spending more time in the air than on the ground. Despite Bereman’s impressive “big dawg” jump and huge air over the Fasthouse on-course feature, Hodges wowed the judges with a run that tricked nearly every jump including clearing the 180-foot jump with a no-footed can can, a massive backflip over the road, catching big air in K-Dubs Kingdom and playing to the crowd throughout. Hodges, Bereman and Vanstippen led 1-2-3 after the first round with 98, 96 and 92 points respectively.
The winds were higher than desired heading into round two and many riders weighed risk and reward, ultimately making the tough decision to sit out and end the day pleased with their first round’s score. But Dresser and Navas weren’t quite done yet, as both took a second run on the course and further displayed their inventiveness by hitting tricks and new lines not seen from them before. Dresser’s score increased from 82 to 85 and Navas’ score increased from 85 to 88, moving him up to fifth place.
As for Hodges and Bereman, they put their second pass at a competition run aside and paired up to show the crowd exactly what the sport is all about. In the spirit of freeride, the two hit their final line together. It’s hard to overstate how important this moment was for freeride motocross. Two competitors, setting aside the competition to simply vibe. Parallel lines, tandem hits, culminating in both riders revving their engines atop the Fasthouse feature at the center of the course. Hodges and Bereman embraced each other amid the smoke of their rear tires. It was a joyful moment, a celebration of sport, and the purest expression of Bereman’s imagination.
The final scores for the event were as follows:
- Axell Hodges – 98
- Tyler Bereman – 96
- Julien Vanstippen – 92
- Kohl Denney – 90
- Guillem Navas – 88
- Josh Hill – 87
- Christian Dresser – 85
- Lewi Woods – 82
- Tom Parsons – 80
Coming off a compound fractured wrist with a 12-week mandatory recovery period, Bereman was only cleared to ride the week of Red Bull Imagination. “There is something to be said about facing your fears and overcoming them,” said by Bereman. “We [Bereman and Baker] are just scratching the surface of what’s possible at Red Bull Imagination.”
Viewers can now tune in to the exclusive behind-the-scenes series on Red Bull Motorsports YouTube, Red Bull TV, ESPN+ and ESPN2 for the competition highlights. For more information, visit https://www.redbull.com/us-en/projects/imagination.
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Red Bull Imagination 3.0 aired last night on ESPN 2 and ESPN+ (where it’s still on demand) and is officially in the books! With that, now ALL results and content are now available to review and share.
Please follow the below links to view/download content. Full release with results and recap can be found in the below release.
- Red Bull Content Pool Story Page – where all competition content lives
- Episode 1
- Episode 2
- Practice Newscut
- Practice Photos via Dropbox
- Practice content on Red Bull Content Pool
Scrimshaw PR- Co-Founder