It was a hot, dusty day in the desert for the second of three Red Bull Formation dig days on Wednesday, as riders and their crews diligently carved lines into the cliffs above Virgin, Utah.
The eight female Formation participants and their diggers have today to finish their top-to-bottom creations, then a rest day before the second part of the week begins, when riders will drop in, aiming for clean runs and the collective progression of women’s freeride.
Formation, now in its second year, is the foremost women’s freeride event—while it’s not a competition, like Red Bull Rampage, the pioneering freeride comp also held in Virgin, it marks a huge step toward a level playing field between men and women in freeride, and sets the stage for future competition. The vibe of the event is one of camaraderie over competitiveness, where everyone is truly trying to elevate the entire field of riders.
“It’s incredible,” said Katie Holden, a former pro rider who founded Formation in 2019. “The vibe just feels really good. From the get-go, I just really wanted to reinforce that Formation is about collaboration and progression. I really wanted everyone to work together to help bring out the best in one another.”
The women’s builds all incorporate new features, while also utilizing some hits from 2008, when Rampage was held at the same venue, with varying levels of sheer scale—Chelsea Kimball notably is building a huge drop from scratch in homage to the Virgin freeride scene—but every line represents a huge leap in progression over Formation’s debut in October 2019.
“It’s pretty incredible actually,” Holden said. “Over the past 20 months, people have had time to think about it, practice, progress and get excited, and on top of that, some were out here a week-and-a-half, two weeks ahead of time, riding together, getting used to the dirt. They’re coming into this just ready and feeling good.”