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Formation 2022: The Dig Is On

Red Bull Formation is underway in Virgin, Utah, allowing 12 of the baddest female freeriders on the planet to dream up and create the lines of their lives.

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It’s difficult to fathom the intensity of the lines at Red Bull Formation until you see them up close. Walking up the mountain is sketchy in places. Riding down seems truly nerve-shattering. Lines consist of chutes so narrow that builders have to rope up to work on them, stomach-pit-inducing drops with exposure on either side and steep, technical jumps.

But for the 12 women invited to take part in the weeklong event, it’s a longtime dream realized—to ride some of the the biggest freeride lines in the world, and actually be supported by the industry. Most of these women started out racing downhill or enduro because they thought that was the only way to make it. Events like Formation (and increasingly many others) represent an evolution toward parity, and show the next generation of women that a riding career doesn’t have to only happen between the race-tape.

With the cliffs of Virgin, Utah, as their canvas, riders have free reign to create their dream lines over the course of a week. Each invited athlete can bring two diggers to join them in Virgin, Utah, then Red Bull has another handful of other diggers on hand to help around the venue. The riders and crews spend three full days working on the lines—balancing the raw nature of big-mountain freeride with built-up features, catch-berms, step-ups, step-downs, lips and landings. The goal is to create something that specifically fits each athlete’s style and strengths that toes the lines between challenging and terrifying. By day three, riders start to ease into some of the lower features in their lines, then have three full days to tick everything off and work toward dropping into top-to-bottom runs during Sunday’s finale. It’s intense, especially as women start dropping into the biggest features on their lines, but Formation is not a competition. Instead, it prioritizes community and camaraderie over podium contention to encourage future growth in women’s freeride. And not just from an athlete standpoint—almost everyone on-site is a women: diggers, filmers, photographers, vloggers and bloggers. Our own photographer, Katie Lozancich, captured the first three days of the event, recapped below.

Brooklyn Bell leads a lady train up to mid-mountain for another day of digging.

Vinny Armstrong (far left in the bucket hat) and her team show the sheer scale of the double drop in her line.
Vaea Verbeeck is a veteran of Formation, having been at all three events since it started in 2019.
Casey Brown and Hannah Bergemann, two legends of women's freeride, stare down the entrance of the line off the ridgetop.

Brown and Bergemann’s route is the same line Brett Rheeder rode at Red Bull Rampage in 2015.

Louise Ferguson (left) is a Formation first-timer, while Vero Sandler is back for year two.
Brown on the ropes off the top.
Sam Soriano (right) gives a little love to photographer Alexa Christiansen.

Katie Holden, a former freerider, co-founded Formation when she put into motion an event and format she’d dreamed about for years.

Water makes everything possible in the desert.

Beep, beep!
Formation bling in the form of custom Trail Boss tools.

First-time Formation digger Alex Showerman.
Big digs to shape the take-off on Armstrong's drop.
Sand bags = Stability.
Sandler builds up the catch berm that follows her steep chute entrance off the ridgetop.

Renata Wiese Peña is part of a strong South American freeride contingent representing at Formation.

Selfies in sunnies.

Packin’ and stacking’—just another day in the desert.

Digger Juju Milay and rider Robin Goomes throw dirt on the bottom part of Goomes’ line.

It’s not a dig day until there’s a water fight.
Michelle Parker, digger and Red Bull ski athlete, and rider Chelsea Kimball plot Kimball's course on day one.
Sandler carves her course.
Ferguson grew up in Fort William, and lives in Queenstown, New Zealand, but she quickly grasped the dynamics of riding in the Utah desert, and stomped her double drop on first drop-in.

For her second appearance at Formation, Sam Soriano dialed back the intensity of her line, and focused on fluidity and playfulness.

Michelle Park is a big-mountain skier who’s been a digger at Formation since day one.

Soriano always has time for a cheese break.

Whistler-local Georgia Astle leveled up from digger in 2021 to a headlining rider this year, and didn’t waste any time digging in on her own line.

Casey Brown and Harriet Burbidge-Smith (Haz).
Martha Gill (left) and Blake Hansen pause for a pose between slinging dirt for Chelsea Kimball, Sam Soriano, Haz and Robin Goomes.

Wake and rake is the name of the game on dig days.

Dirtfall is an occupational hazard.

Juju Milay (left), Alex Showerman and Micayla Gatto, who rode this site during Formation in 2019, are well-equipped for a long day of digging.
Gemma Corbera traveled from Spain to be at Formation, and took the opportunity to throw a few backflips in the desert before digging at the event.
Chelsea Kimball ticks off some early hits on the final dig day on Thursday.

Have shovel, will scramble.

Louise Ferguson is headed straight to Fort William, Scotland, to race her first World Cup DH race after riding in Formation. What a week.

Community and camaraderie is the underlying theme at Formation, and it shows.
Cami Nogueira stomps her double drop on Thursday morning, a crux move on her fall-line top-to-bottom run directly down the face of the mountain.