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The final day of Red Bull Formation on Monday slapped a huge exclamation point on a week filled with exclamation points, as riders dropped into their lines and collectively blew expectations of what women can do on bikes out of the water.
Hannah Bergemann was the first to drop her line top-to-bottom, quietly heading up to the mesa outside Virgin, Utah, and delivering a clean run first thing in the morning while the final practice session was still happening. Bergemann and Casey Brown, who also cleaned her run, both started on a no-fall-zone entrance from the mesa, before working their way down the mountain through a crux move into a loose, narrow chute, a double drop and a host of other features and jumps that just standing on top of would be terrifying enough for us mere mortals, let alone having the mental fortitude and physical strength to ride them. Bergemann added in a steep roller linked to a huge drop that she rode for the first time just before attempting her full run. Sam Soriano, Jess Blewitt and Vinny Armstrong all rode similar versions of the same line on Monday.
Farther down the ridgeline, Vaea Verbeeck and Cami Nogueira stomped their lines (after Nogueira recovered from a nerve-rattling crash) and Chelsea Kimball landed the canyon gap and the big drop she and her diggers started from scratch and spent all week perfecting.
“It was super historic on a lot of levels,” said Formation founder Katie Holden. “They all raised the bar in a really big way. It’s progressing so fast. I had no doubt in my mind that women could ride out there, this just proved it. And they’re not nearly as far behind the boys as everyone might think.”
Although Formation proved that women certainly deserve a place in freeride competitions at the highest level, including Rampage and Proving Grounds (the Rampage qualifier), Holden has no plans for Formation itself to serve that purpose. The non-competitive setting and spirit of camaraderie are the magic ingredients that allow the ladies to push their riding to the next level.
“Formation is the piece in the middle where the talent pool is going to rise,” she said, likening Formation to an incubator or an accelerator. Invited athletes bring in up-and-coming riders to work on their dig crews, which begets a natural mentorship.
“The group dynamics with everyone, the camaraderie, it’s such a supportive environment. It’s really, really special.”
Keep on scrolling for a photographic recap of Monday’s finale, and check out all our Formation coverage here.