Overcoming crash, Brandon Semenuk wins 4th title in Southern Utah’s ‘Red Bull Rampage’

VIRGIN — Brandon Semenuk won the Red Bull Rampage for a record fourth time Friday, outperforming 11 other competitors in the rugged hills south of Virgin.

L-R: Second-place finisher Kurt Sorge, winner Brandon Semenuk and third-place finisher Reed Boggs, Red Bull Rampage, Virgin, Utah, Oct. 15, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

After crashing early in his first run due to an over-rotation during a landing, Semenuk took his bike and made his way back up the mountain almost immediately, as his zero score meant he would be going first in the second and final round.

The second time proved to be the charm for Semenuk, as he successfully nailed several impressive tricks that sent him to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 89.0.

During his comments to event announcers shortly after crossing the finish line, Semenuk said he hadn’t been nervous as he began the second of his back-to-back runs, even though he’d come off his bike on the first one due to what he called “a big mistake” in going too fast.

Semenuk said his second run was very close to what he’d visualized. 

“I was just trying to put it down, including that tailwhip,” he said.

“I had like a couple little more things I wanted to add,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t do the back where I crashed my first run. And then there was like, you know, some small tricks down below, but that was about 90% of what I wanted. Considering it’s a big day and it’s a little windy up there, I’m pretty happy with what I put down.”

Fellow Canadian Kurt Sorge, who also had three Red Bull Rampage titles under his belt coming into this year’s competition, came the closest to dislodging Semenuk from the top spot. Sorge’s solid second run earned him a score of 88.33, good enough for the second-place trophy.

Reed Boggs signs an autograph for a fan, Red Bull Rampage, Virgin, Utah, Oct. 15, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Meanwhile, Southern Utah’s own Reed Boggs bounced back from a 57 score on his first run to nail an 87 on his second attempt. That landed the 24-year-old Boggs, a wildcard entrant, in third place overall, much to the delight of the sizable hometown crowd he had cheering him on.

Atop the awards podium at the end of the day, Semanuk, Sorge and Boggs doused each other with champagne in celebration. For complete final results and other awards, see the bottom of the story.

Friday’s competition was the 15th edition of Red Bull Rampage, which started 20 years ago and is billed as the world’s premier big-mountain freeride mountain biking event. The small Southern Utah town of Virgin, a gateway community to Zion National Park, has served as the host each year. This year’s event took place on the same hill as the 2016 and 2017 competitions; the venue was located a half mile or so to the north in both 2018 and 2019. 

Semanuk’s fourth-ever Rampage victory was also his second in a row, having last won it in 2019. There was no 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the week leading up to the competition, each of the riders and their dig crews spent many hours with shovels and other tools as they worked on shaping the ramps, tracks and landing spots along the carefully chosen lines that would take them down the steep mountainside.

At the beginning of the week, there had been 15 riders scheduled to participate, but three of them later had to withdraw due to injuries. Andreu Lacondeguy of Spain, Brage Vestavik of Norway and Carson Storch of the U.S. all crashed during practice runs prior to the competition, leaving just a dozen names on the board for the first run Friday.

Red Bull Rampage, Virgin, Utah, Oct. 15, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Two of the riders who made hard landings and crashed during Friday morning’s first round were unable to continue. Vincent Tupin of France was able to walk off the course under his own power, but Canadian Tom Van Steenbergen had to be carried off on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital, but there has been no word on his condition as of late Friday night. 

Although he was unable to be present at the podium at the conclusion of the event, Van Steenbergen was named the winner of “Best Trick” award for a front flip he successfully executed on a flat drop, which was not the trick he was performing when he crashed.

For more information and content, please visit the Red Bull Rampage website. To watch Semenuk’s full winning run on YouTube, click here.

2021 Red Bull Rampage final results

  1. Brandon Semenuk (CAN) 89.0.
  2. Kurt Sorge (CAN) 88.33.
  3. Reed Boggs (USA) 87.0.
  4. Cam Zink (USA) 86.33.
  5. Tyler McCaul (USA) 78.33.
  6. Kyle Strait (USA) 77.66.
  7. Thomas Genon (BEL) 77.0.
  8. Ethan Nell (USA) 73.33.
  9. Jaxson Riddle (USA) 72.66.
  10. Szymon Godziek (POL) 54.33.

Went out during first round due to injury:

  • Vincent Tupin (FRA).
  • Tom Van Steenbergen (CAN).

Withdrew before competition due to injuries during practice:

  • Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP).
  • Brage Vestavik (NOR).
  • Carson Storch (USA).

Other awards:

  • Best Trick: Tom Van Steenbergen.
  • Kelly McGarry Spirit Award: Brage Vestavik.
  • Digger Award: Jaxson Riddle’s dig team.
  • Style Award: Jaxson Riddle.
  • Toughness Award: Cam Zink.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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