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.
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