As the return of Red Bull Joyride nears, freeride competitors have been bringing out all the stops to make their mark on the Slopestyle scene. With Mike Ross landing the world’s first cashroll off a flat drop, David Lieb and Max Langille earning themselves wildcard spots at Red Bull Joyride, and David Godziek taking his fourth straight gold medal win, freeride mountain biking may be entering a new era.
Title Slopestyle at SilverStar Bike Park was the beginning of a month-and-a-half long Slopestyle trek through British Columbia, Canada and it saw some familiar names drop into the course expertly designed by Brett Rheeder and Matt MacDuff. But while a podium featuring (1) David Godziek, (2) Lucas Huppert, and (3) Nicholi Rogatkin is exciting in itself, it was what happened off the podium that took the mountain biking community by storm.
Scoring only 2.67 points shy of podium position was David Lieb, and although he walked away with no medal, he did earn himself a golden ticket – wildcard entry to the 10th anniversary of Red Bull Joyride. On his goals for riding at the legendary event? “Number one goal for Red Bull Joyride is to make it to the bottom safely. Otherwise, I’ve been thinking about [the satellite dish] since I saw Brandon Semenuk ride the feature in REALM, so that’s going to be really exciting to play around with.”
The Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) Gold level event also saw Australian Mike Ross make quite the name for himself as he not only made his Gold level event debut, but simultaneously landed the world’s first cashroll off a flat drop. Making quite the splash across the mountain biking community, the trick also got some of the top Slopestyle riders hyped for what’s to come. Third place finisher, Nicholi Rogatkin, commented on how the course is built to support riders in their push for progression: “If you’re determined to do some crazy tricks like we’ve seen Mike Ross do with the cashroll off the drop, other moves like that, it’s a course where you can really step up your riding.”
Another course where riders were able to give it their all and really step up their riding was at Big White Invitational hosted by Tom van Steenbergen. After putting down a run that earned him a gold medal at Title Slopestyle at SilverStar Bike Park (and Eurobike Skyline Ride before that and Birell BikeFest before that…), David Godziek continued his winning streak and secured his fourth FMB gold medal in a row. With Red Bull Joyride right around the corner, Godziek isn’t succumbing to the pressure though, he’s just taking in this wave of highs and feeling “super excited for riding the course in Whistler.”
The podium at Big White Invitational was rounded out by two Canadians, Max Langille and Ben Thompson, who were equally stoked for one another being good friends on and off the course. Representing on home turf in a big way, Langille not only walked away with a silver medal, but a wildcard to Red Bull Joyride. “Before my second run at Big White, my dad and buddy just reminded me that this is what I have put the time in for and to just do what I can do. They just inspired me to go up for my second run. When I got down to the bottom, I thought it was going to be like a crazy rush of excitement, but it was more of a relief of calmness, and I was able to just be present for it.”
As the world’s top Slopestyle athletes switch their focus to the return of Red Bull Joyride this weekend after its two-year hiatus, Lieb and Langille are already thinking about their time on the legendary course. Having competed at Diamond level before during Crankworx Innsbruck 2021, Lieb is no stranger to the amount of work that goes into reaching this height of freeride mountain biking. “For me, Diamond level, it’s obviously the pinnacle of the sports, it’s right where you want to be.” On returning to Diamond level competition, Lieb continued, “it was kind of my goal, but I wasn’t really going to beat myself up too bad if I didn’t get it, but I’m just very thankful to have made it happen.
Moments into holding the golden ticket that would grant him wildcard entry to Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx Whistler, Lieb was already planning out his run. “Brandon Semenuk is one of my biggest inspirations and obviously I watch all his videos to get stoked to ride, also coming from a BMX background. I think the satellite dish is going to be extremely fun and I already know exactly what I want to do in that feature.”
Having already tricked some of the features during the first few days of training on the Red Bull Joyride course, Langille is taking it all as it comes and really enjoying the moment for what it is. “Riding at Red Bull Joyride this weekend, I feel super grateful to have this opportunity and I just want to show the best of myself. I want a clean run to the bottom – riding strong, healthy, and happy. I want to enjoy the experience and not get too far ahead of myself and just take it as it all comes.” In one word, “stoked.”
Other top riders making their way to the home of Slopestyle include Emil Johansson, Nicholi Rogatkin, Erik Fedko, and Tim Bringer. The full start list will be updated here.
The 10th anniversary of Red Bull Joyride will be taking place Saturday, August 13 at 4:30pm PDT. The event will be live streamed on Red Bull TV.