Unlike the 2022 running of Red Bull Rampage, weather conditions held steady for nearly the entire 2023 event, allowing riders free rein to pull off the best runs possible.
True to form, riders brought their A-game to the event, resulting in a contest packed with enormous tricks, big crashes, and a healthy share of redemption for riders who struggled in the past.
The 2023 Red Bull Rampage Winners Circle
Cam Zink last won the event in 2014. He finished second in 2015 and 2018 and took fourth in 2021.
He needed a near-perfect second run to seal the deal after he lost speed coming into a massive drop in the middle of the course and bailed during his first run. He returned to the feature on his second run with a huge backflip that left the crowd roaring.
At 37, Zink was the oldest competitor in the field this year after 38-year-old Gee Atherton crashed out of the event during practice. But given his years of experience with Rampage, no one ever counted Zink out of the running.
“Every year I show up here, I know that I can win. I wouldn’t be here unless I knew that I could win,” Zink said.
Zink said in previous years, something always tended to go wrong, whether it was a build not working out, the judges not seeing eye-to-eye, or just messing up tricks. But this year, everything finally came together.
“It’s a long week. We’re building for nine days, keeping the morale high, keeping motivated, then literally risking your life,” Zink said. “It’s different, but I think it plays to my strengths. I’ve always been told I’m the most confident guy and I have the best mindset. But it’s never easy for me. I’m always scared. I’m always working out emotions and finding a way. I guess I’m kind of the guy that’s able to prevail.”
Tom Van Steenbergen finished in second, earning big points for a run that began with a vertical caveman drop right off of the start line.
Rather than starting on his bike, Van Steenbergen jumped off the start and mounted his bike in mid-air, just as Brandon Semenuk did in 2022. He spent several minutes before his run gauging the wind before finally dropping in, and spectators could easily view windsocks inflated by a steady breeze. Many watching from below wondered whether he would attempt a run at all, but as soon as he jumped, he strung together a thrilling run.
Carson Storch, who continued a build that he and his crew began for last year’s event, rounded out the podium in third. Storch said he took the line from 2022 and added a few “spicier” sections up top, and his plan was to go as fast as possible.
“Right off the top, there’s a spicy entrance into the main chute that goes down the zone, and I practiced it when it was wet, and it was nice and perfect. When I dropped in today, it was loose and fast, and it was almost out of control. That was kind of what I wanted,” Storch said. “It was like riding a bull, and from there, it was just about reeling it back in and doing tricks back to back to back.”
Big Crashes by Favorites at the 2023 Red Bull Rampage
A massive drop leading directly into the course’s storied 70-foot Canyon gap emerged as one of the most consequential sections of the course. Two riders, including Szymon Godziek and Clemens Kaudela, crashed on the feature.
Godziek, who finished the event in second place in 2022, crashed during his first run, which was the last of the first heat. All appeared to be well at the top of the course, but things went sideways after a bar spin off the top of the drop took him off his line and down hard into the dirt. Paramedics rushed to his aide and loaded him into a four-wheeler to descend the mountain.
Kaudela crashed during his second run at the same spot but was up and walking quickly, albeit rattled and dirty.
The Biggest Sends
Bienvenido Aguado Alba threw the most impressive trick of the day by front-flipping over the same canyon gap where Godziek and Kaudela crashed not once but twice. Adding to the difficulty, he backflipped into the massive run-in drop leading into the gap. He went back up the mountain and repeated the trick flawlessly for his second run, too.
Kyle Strait, who crashed out of the competition last year with severe injuries including skull and vertebrae fractures, also threw a huge no-hander off a 63-foot step-down jump and flipped or whipped his way down the rest of his line.
Alba won the Best Trick award for the front flip, and Strait took home the Toughness award to celebrate his return to form from last year’s frightening crash.
Even those who did not make the podium had more to fight for this year because the top eight finishers in the field all earned automatic invites to next year’s event.
Unless someone drops out, the 2024 Red Bull Rampage lineup will include the following, in order of their 2023 finish:
- Cam Zink
- Tom Van Steenbergen
- Carson Storch
- Brendan Fairclough
- Talus Turk
- Kyle Strait
- Emil Johansson
- Bienvenido Aguado Alba