rampage

Aggy’s 2018 Rampage Recap

Rampage 2018 has come to a dusty close. This year’s event was packed with big lines, big hits, and big crashes, but thankfully everyone walked away mostly unscathed. For Aggy, it was a test of mettle and proof of what the body can do. With just two weeks cleared of a broken scapula, he put on quite the flow show, riding smooth and giving the crowd a taste of his signature style they know and love.

We caught up with Aggy to get a couple of thoughts after the event.

What part of this year’s Rampage did you find most challenging?

Rampage is a purely mental game. No one truly understands unless they’ve been in those shoes themselves. Having the right people there to remind you of self-discipline and tell me exactly what I need to hear to perform at my best and be my best self, and also keep everyone updated while I entered my zen state for the event. Mathieu Dupelle performed at his highest level as a coach and manager and was the MVP of the event for me.

How did your Scapula hold up with the digging and the riding? 

My scapula held up fine, but day one of digging I went too hard and developed severe tendinitis in my arm just above my wrist. Felt like my arm was broken for a few days and I was barely able to lift a tool with it. Once the sports physio team showed up later in the week they were able to help me keep it at bay so I could hold on tight for the event.

What is one thing you think fans at home need to know that they don’t understand unless they’re there in person?

Everything is much bigger in person and it’s hard to describe what kind of time goes into the build. We worked roughly seven days total, waking up at 5:30 am, eating breakfast and heading to the site…We’d work all day long with taking only a short lunch break on slope and then right back at it until it was dark around 7:30 pm. It was probably between 70-80 h0urs per person over those 7 days.

Who was on your dig team and how do you know them?

Colin Davis was on my dig team and we know each other through Retallack Lodge where he works. We’ve known each other for a few years now and he’s always offered to come help and dig for me at Rampage and this year with only 2 weeks notice I hit him up and he dropped everything to come to join me. We had a great time and he worked as hard as two dudes out there. Key player to the team this year, I really appreciated his hard work and attitude throughout the entire event.

Were you listening to music at the start? 

– I was listening to, A Tribe Called RedElectric Pow Wow Drum.

You were chosen to wear a telemetry monitor. What was that like? It was interesting to see your heart rate. 

I didn’t notice it at all but ya it was really cool to see and hear about what my heart rate was looking like and doing during my run. Sounds like I was pretty chill for what I was doing!

Did you ever consider skipping your second run? What goes through your mind after your first run?

At first, I was considering calling it a day but I wasn’t happy with how I messed up the bottom portion of the run so I really wanted to clean it up. Luckily I had a pretty fun and conserved run so going back up I was almost excited but still a little nervous because there are helicopters and a lot of people watching.

Congrats, Aggy, on a successful mission to the desert!

Rampage Question Time with Aggy

Graham Agassiz and his build crew and have been on Utah soil since Saturday, scoping and building their lines for Red Bull Rampage at the new 2018 zone. This year’s blank canvas has once again leveled the playing field and the new site is providing its own challenges. At twice the vert and with steeper terrain than the most recent venue, the building and planning required for this year’s Rampage are on another level. We pulled Aggy aside during some very rare downtime between digging, eating and sleeping and posed six big questions to him.

You’ve just arrived in Virgin for Rampage 2018. How does it feel to be back?
Being back in the desert here for Rampage I have mixed feelings. I know what I’m capable of doing but I’m having to constantly remind myself to just chill and try to keep it fun.

How is your shoulder feeling?
My shoulder is feeling ok, kind of how I’d expect it to feel after only a month. Day one of digging I went a little hard and still feeling it for sure.

How does the new venue look? Did any lines pop out at you right away as must-hit?
The new venue is really steep compared to the other venues and nearly twice the vert! With only seven days to build and test the line, It’s a massive undertaking. There are twice as many features and that’s twice the workload.

Who is on your dig team this year and why did you choose them?
My dig team this year is Colin Davis and Alex Volokhov. Colin is crusher, works on the trail crew up at Retallack Lodge, and Alex is still recovering from a broken collarbone but was feeling good enough to give us a hand.

What are the next couple of days looking like for you?
The next couple days consist of more sunsets and sunrises out in the desert, working from sun up to sun down. Sunday is a mandatory rest day and Monday practice starts, but not sure how much will be ready for testing by then.

What should your fans expect this year?
My fans shouldn’t expect the normal all or nothing runs I’m usually known for. I’m just out to put a something Fun together.

Photos courtesy of Alex Erickson/Dakine

 

 

Kona at Rampage – The True Story

It is one of the most dramatic competitions in all of sports. Over 30 athletes from around the world converging on a venue that, upon first glance, looks totally un-conducive to mountain biking. Armed with their dig crews, and a week of shoveling, watering and picking in lines that defy both gravity and reasonable thinking, riders then mentally prepare to drop in on what can only be described as insane. Kona has history at Rampage. Our best result ever came at the bravado of Antoine Bizet in 2012 when he placed 2nd. Graham Agassiz has threatened to crack the podium numerous times having won qualifications in 2013 and 2014, but hasn’t been able to put it all together when it counted in the finals. In 2013 he came within a slipped grip of winning it all.

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Graham Agassiz with a suicide no hander off of his signature 70-foot step down. Photo: Ale di Lullo

For riders it’s an incredibly challenging mental and physical endeavor. The amount of time they actually ride is quite minimal. Most of their week in the Utah desert is spent digging and sculpting, choking back the nerves that come with creating lines you’re not sure you can actually ride. But the risk to reward ratio outweighs the jitters. If you want to be a professional big mountain rider, you have no choice but to buck up and ride Rampage. The numbers dictate as much, this year’s viewership broke all previous Rampage records with rumors that this was actually the second most viewed event in Red Bull broadcast history.

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Brothers in burl: Bizet and Aggy warm up together before the finals. Photo: Mitch Scott

But not all is right as rain for one of mountain biking’s more seminal events. For years the riders have complained about the lack of ownership of the imagery that comes out of the event, not to mention the relative shortfall when it comes to prize money. Know that none of the athletes are paid an appearance fee, and with a total prize purse of $100,000, amongst the 30 or so athletes that participate in the event, there’s not too much love going around. While the organization, medical response teams, and broadcast production systems are world class, the value that comes to the riders is measured only exposure. Significant to be sure, however, from a bike company’s perspective, not to mention the athlete’s, it’s a nerve racking, risky endeavour. Exposure isn’t necessarily guaranteed while the potential for injury is massive.

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The builders behind the riders. Aggy with his legendary Kamloops crew.

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Bizet with his brother Ben, part of his French crew.

And while there’s always been a history of injury at Rampage, this year proved to be the most consequential in its 10 event history. Miraculously there hasn’t been a life altering injury (or for that matter, death) at the event. Sure, there’s been a slew of broken femurs and deep gashes, and a myriad of close-calls, with a couple of life-flight medivacs every year, but there has yet to be an injury that had the potential to dramatically change someone’s life. Until this year. Unfortunately, long-time Kona and Red Bull athlete (he currently rides for Scott), suffered a broken back when he couldn’t regain control of his bike after a giant air. Paul Basagoitia, who rode for Kona for almost a decade and is a much respected and followed athlete in the sport, shattered his T12 vertebrae and is currently on a long road back to recovery. For those watching the Rampage both live and on their computers, shortly after his dramatic medi-vac, Red Bull reported that Paul was fine and only needed to have a leg injury checked out the hospital. This has obviously infuriated many and as a result Red Bull has some answering to do. Regardless, a good man is down. And it’s no one’s fault necessarily, just a sign of how elevated the stakes have become at this event. If you’re interested in participating in Paul’s recovery, you can do so here.

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Paul B laying out his team issue Cowan, circa 2008. Photo: Scott Markewitz

After Paul was evacuated, standing at the top of the mountain was Graham Agassiz, who qualified 1st the day previous, his third consecutive Rampage qualification win. As the wind started to pick up, Aggy had to watch as his friend and former teammate was airlifted from the venue. You can only imagine the stress. Not only had Aggy encountered terrible luck in the years previous when it came to the finals, he had to mentally let go of the fact that his friend was obviously hurt real bad. Not to mention, earlier in the day his teammate and second place qualifier, Antoine Bizet, was carted off to the hospital earlier in the finals, suffering a broken humerus after attempting a double back flip on the bottom of the course. “If he had landed that double he would have won for sure,” said Aggy after the event. “The kid is such a badass, he was inches away from one of the best runs in Rampage history.” To watch Antoine’s incredible 2nd place qualifications run, which included a backflip over the 70-foot canyon gap, go here.

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Antoine’s double backflip induced broken humerus. He recently had surgery and will make a full recover.

When it’s all said and done, we here at Kona can’t deny the power of this event. Of course we celebrate the successes of our athletes. Qualifying 1st and 2nd was huge for Kona. Aggy hitting the podium in 3rd and Antoine coming so close to glory–despite a fairly serious injury–shows just how talented and committed our athletes are. Would they be tested, and ultimately showcased, at this level without the Red Bull Rampage? Perhaps not. Questions remain for the future of the event, however, which is under heavy scrutiny right now. By closing out the athletes when it comes to prize money and ownership of media, as well as the companies behind the athletes–their was virtually no mention of athlete sponsors during both the live broadcast and on-site–Red Bull risks alienating the people who ultimately make the event happen, that being the Antoine’s, Aggy’s and Basagoitia’s of the world. Them and the company’s that stand behind them through all the glory, failure, injury and exaltation that comes with being a professional mountain biker.

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Aggy’s line was all about style and steeze. Photo: Sterling Lorence

Antoine’s huge backflip over the 70-foot canyon gap. Photo: Sterling Lorence

And therein we’d like to congratulate all who participated in this event. For those who conceived it and bring it to life every year. And hopefully to see this showcase of talent figure out the dirty little details so that everyone benefits from the great risks being taken far away in the Utah desert. That and we hope our friend Paul Basagoitia the speediest of full recoveries.  -Mitchell Scott, Kona Communications Director and Gravity Team Manager

Bizet’s Team Issue Supreme Operator. Photo: Sterling Lorence

Aggy’s Monster Green Supreme Operator. Photo: Sterling Lorence

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