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Red Bull Formation Photo Gallery: Dig Day in the Desert

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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.”

Photos: Leslie Hittmeier
Georgia Astle refills a most precious dirt-shaping commodity.

Sam Soriano has shovel, will send.
Casey Brown shattered the freeride ceiling with her invite to Proving Grounds in 2019, the Rampage qualifying event, and will no doubt once again push the possibilities of body and bike this week.

CJ Selig digs in.
Chelsea Kimball's from-scratch drop requires a lot of muscle, but her familiarity with the Virgin terrain will likely be an asset in sending it later this week. The part-time Virgin, Utah, resident is definitely one to watch this weekend when the women start sessioning.

Kiwis Vinny Armstrong (left) and Jess Blewitt work (and play) together in the desert. Armstrong rode in Formation in 2019, while Blewitt is a first-time invitee, at just 18 years old.
Georgia Astle and Casy Brown let the tools fly as they work on Casey's line.

Pro skier and Red Bull athlete Michelle Parker and Aaron Blatt lend four helping hands.
CJ Selig (background) went from sending huge lines last week at Darkfest in South Africa to building huge lines with Chelsea Kimball this week.

First-time Formation rider Cami Nogueira, Renata Wiese, Kaia Jensen and pro skier Lexi DuPont define teamwork.
Brooklyn Bell and Georgia Astle fill the all-important support and dig roles.

Kaia Jensen livin’ that desert life.
Brown and Astle during a rare moment of downtime.