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Red Bull Formation: Session Saturday

With lines finished, the wind calm and nerves at bay, the women of Formation started hitting their lines on Saturday

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The winds were calm and the skies clear in Virgin, Utah, on Saturday, as Formation riders started sessioning features from the lines they spent the better part of the last week digging. A few of the eight invited women worked their way nearly all the way up the face of the mountain, starting with the warm-up jumps below the mid-road and continuing to just below the apex. Hannah Bergemann, a Bellingham, Washington, local with a penchant for fearlessly going huge, linked up large parts of her line on Saturday, offering a teaser for what’s to come in the remaining two days of the event. While Casey Brown, Vinny Armstrong, Jess Blewitt and Sam Soriano also worked their way through significant portions of their lines, which include the Plastic Bag jump and an optional double drop.

The riders were still fine-tuning parts of their lines as well, working with their dig crews to refine the canvas as they tested out features. There were a few crashes—Bergemann, Vaea Verbeeck and Cami Nogueira all went down at one point—but thankfully nothing serious that would keep anyone from finishing the weekend.

Red Bull Formation is a women’s-only jam-session-style event staged on the cliffs of Virgin, Utah, on the same terrain that hosted Red Bull Rampage in 2008. Formation is designed to push the progression of women’s freeride, and it’s working. The riders are creating lines that are bigger and more technical than Formation’s first time around in 2019, and are sending the drops, jumps and features with skill and precision. They spent most of the past week envisioning and digging their lines, and Saturday was the first full day they had to suit up and send it. The session continues on Sunday, and on Monday, the women will attempt clean, top-to-bottom runs.

Photos: Leslie Hittmeier
Hannah Bergemann on a solo push up the hill. Bergemann linked up nearly all of her run on Saturday, skipping just the highest drop-in from the ridgeline.

Casey Brown gets in the zone. As the most experienced rider at Formation, Brown has had years to hone her mental game to handle high-consequence riding.
Kiwi Vinny Armstrong shows her signature style and amplitude.
There's almost as much pushing and bike-carrying as riding at Formation, with a lot of helping hands on-site to get the ladies back in the saddle for another run.

Brown going to town.
Vinny Armstrong and Jess Blewitt size up their drop, and get ready to roll.
With moves like this, Harriet Burbidge-Smith won't be an alternate for long.

Blewitt mid-(jaw)drop.
Local knowledge. Ethan Nell, Jaxon Riddle and DJ Brandt spent the day towing in the women to features, guinea-pigging or helping them speed-check.

Riddle talks through the double drop with Brown and Bergemann.
Blewitt drops in near the top, while Armstrong watches on.

The art of the decision to drop with Sam Soriano. Pep talk, get stoked, freak out, send it.
Soriano hits go on the Plastic Bag drop, while Brown, Dillon Lemarr and Dani Johnson watch.
Ethan Nell, who grew up nearby and started digging at Rampage as a kid before earning his way into the competition (then getting third in his first two years), was no doubt a reassuring voice and wheel to follow at the Formation site.

Positivity is never a problem for Casey Brown.
Work hard, ride hard, rest hard.

Chelsea Kimball, Blake Hansen and Georgia Astle look at footage of a crash Cami Nogueira had earlier in the morning. Nogueira is banged up, but reportedly OK.

Yep, still looks scary on second replay.
Blewitt atop the highest point anyone dropped in from on Saturday. The ladies saved the tippy-top for Sunday and Monday.