Red Bull is known for being at the forefront of extreme and alternative sports, sponsoring everything from jet racing to cliff diving competitions to ice-skate cross races through the frozen streets of Quebec City. They're also known for taking existing sports and twisting them to better showcase the skills of the athletes.
Red Bull Elevation, which took place in Whistler on Canada Day for three successive years, is a prime example of a Red Bull event. The organizers took the sport of BMX dirt jumping and placed it on a slope so riders could focus more on landing bigger and better tricks than keeping their momentum. Tens of thousands of fans tuned in to watch the world's top riders raise the bar.
Red Bull is also known for running events for a few years before moving onto the next thing, keeping things fresh.
Enter Red Bull Exodus, taking place this weekend on Whistler Mountain. If Elevation pushed big air and style in BMX, then Exodus is all about pushing the stamina and aggressiveness of downhill mountain bike racers.
The main event is essentially a mass start downhill from top to bottom on Whistler Mountain, easily creating one of the world's longest downhill races in the process with a vertical drop of close to 1,600 metres. That's about four times as much vertical as a run from the top of the Fitzsimmons Express.
The concept for the race came from Cody Swansborough, a former competitive DH racer who is now a field marketing manager with Red Bull Canada.
"There's a race concept out of Europe called the Mega Avalanche, which is a bit larger scale event in the Alps and Pyrenees and South Africa," he explained. "The general concept is you have a large number of people descending at the same time, but it's almost more of an enduro race that goes up and down. I wanted to do something in Whistler from the peak to the base of the hill that was just downhill. I can say that there is nothing else out there in the world that's like this."
Swansborough has a pretty good idea of what athletes will go through, and some idea how things are going to play out from the top.
"It's going to be bar to bar from the start, with 15 rows and 10 guys in each row," he said. "They're going to hit speeds around 80 kilometres an hour on the fire road, which is kind of similar to the old Kamikaze era on Blackcomb. From there it drops into more technical singletrack and should slow down a bit.