Pity the judges at the second annual Red Bull Elevation BMX dirt jumping contest, which took place this past Saturday before a crowd of thousands.
In the past year the sport has progressed so much that even the athletes themselves don’t know whether a 720 table is good enough to beat another athlete’s front flip one-hander or backflip tailwhip.
"That’s what’s so great about this event," said California’s Luke Parslow, who finished his day in second place. "The judges all like different things, and we don’t know what they like. You have to be smooth and mix it up a bit – it wasn’t just big tricks they were watching it was style."
Based on that criteria Parslow sided with the judges on their decision to give Australia’s Corey Bohan the win this year. "He was flawless," said Parlsow.
Red Bull Elevation took place from Thursday June 29 to July 1, with a training day, a qualifier day with 40 athletes, and the finals with the top-20 athletes. It was by invitation only, ensuring that only the best of the best could compete.
The format is different from other dirt jumping contests with a slope reducing the amount of pedaling required, and larger airs than most contests. The goal of organizer Jay Miron, himself a former BMX champion, was to create a contest that encouraged riders to push the envelope of their sport.
Because of the large number of finalists the top-20 were divided into two groups with riders ranked 11-20 going first.
The highlights of this group included B.C.’s Darren Barrecloth, who broke out 360 after 360 and landed the first 720 of the day, while mixing his routine up with superman seat grabs, cross-ups and other tricks. It was good enough to move him from 14 th in the qualifier to ninth overall.
Fans also got a taste of the future of BMX with T.J. Ellis taking the biggest risks of the day. Ellis incorporated a backflip to frontflip combo on the top jumps, was the first rider to try to backflip the step down jump, and attempted the day’s only double tailwhip backflip. Landings were hard to come by, however, and Ellis finished his day in 17 th .
In the top-10 category, where athletes had four runs each, things got progressively more technical as the day went on and as riders looked to top each other and take the $10,000 top prize.
There were too many impressive tricks and combos to mention but some highlights included T.J. Lavin’s Indian Seat Grab and transfer over the ‘S’-turn berms; Brian Foster’s sequence of 360s on the top airs; Alejandro Caro Ospina’s 720 to 360 combo up top and backflip finish; Cameron White’s tailwhip and 360 line; Anthony Napolitan’s front flip one-hander over the bottom jump; Luke Parslow’s backflip over the stepdown jump to front flip on the last jump, Ryan Nyquist’s run with five 360s and a 720 finish, and everything Corey Bohan did in every single run.