Axell Hodges soars to victory in the biggest freeride motocross stage at Red Bull Imagination
– Red Bull Imagination, a freeride motocross competition out of the mind of Templeton native Tyler Bereman, has had its second year on the books, and it has far exceeded the expectations of riders, judges and spectators alike. The event, born in the spirit of Bereman and hosted by course designer Jason Baker of Dream Traxx, continued to carve out a place in the pantheon of motocross events and advance the discipline of freeride motocross. Twelve of the sport’s top runners gathered in Fort Scott, Kansas for an unprecedented week of “sessions of expression, massive features and epic kickoffs.”
The event began with four days of riding sessions and ended with an unprecedented freeride competition. On the finish, fan favorite Axell Hodges kicked off the winning races to secure the top spot, but not before Colby Raha and Bereman gave him their money’s worth in the podium race.
The level of riding demonstrated at Red Bull Imagination was truly to the next level, in large part because of the breadth and scale of the bespoke course brought to the table. Before 2021, Baker and Bereman knew the stakes needed to be raised for the second year of Red Bull Imagination and they used their first year learnings to rethink and expand the course in ways that really push the boundaries of what is capable of. freeride motocross. . The bespoke ‘playground’ course debuted with extended functionality and new concepts that moved away from the boundaries of ‘racing’ and eliminated the start and finish line, allowing complete creative freedom. for runners.
Returning riders and novice riders were in awe and bewildered by the sheer scale of the course. But the competition format was put in place to accommodate this, with four “session” days reserved for runners to adapt and learn the unique sections before the competition. And despite the initial discomfort with the shock factor of the course, the tone of the week quickly shifted from “dipping a toe” to “diving full power”. Rookies and veterans alike were all smiles under their helmets as they ripped their bikes up and around the ultimate freeride playground.
The full range of runners who have taken the course are:
- Tyler Bereman, best freeride motocross rider and 10-time X Games medalist
- Gold medalist at the X Games 2021, Colby Raha, nine times medalist in the general classification of the X Games
- Gold medalist at the X Games 2021, nine times overall medalist at the X Games Axell Hodges
- Motocross jack-of-all-trades, GP himself Ryan Sipes
- Gold medalist at the 2021 X Games, four-time overall X Games medalist, Tom Parsons
- Pro Supercross and Motocross star Cole Seely retires (again)
- Vicki Golden, four-time X Games medalist and world record holder
- Former AMA Supercross / Motocross rider Darryn Durham
- Former AMA Supercross / Motocross rider and current freeride motocross rider Josh Hill
- X Games medalist Jimmy Hill
- Former AMA Supercross / Motocross rider Billy Bear Carpenter
- Christian Dresser, a 19-year-old runner who became a freerider
On the day of the competition, the runners had two five-minute windows to present and reach the visionary lines they had envisioned all week. Runners were rated on breadth, creativity, execution, and the overall line they drew, and their single best score was tallied. John Basher and sports legends Jeremy ‘Twitch’ Stenberg, Robbie Maddison, Steve Haughelstine and Ronnie Faisst judged the contest from a tower overlooking the entire course.
Highlights of the runner’s early races included the Durham funbox and wallride before hopping on the moon booter, Jimmy Hill’s cheerful riding style and antics on the course, Parsons whips on the big dawgs and Golden seamlessly hitting a superwoman. But it was Hodges, Raha and Bereman who led 1-2-3 after the first round with 93, 87 and 86 points respectively.
The stakes were high heading into the second round and it was this set that saw the athletes improve their art even further, leaving viewers and judges virtually speechless. Each runner delivered at or above the level of their first run, matching or increasing their scores the second time around. In the race for the podium, it was Bereman, Raha and Hodges who fought to maintain their lead.
Bereman demonstrated ease and perfection in smooth transfers in and out of each zone, using every inch of the course with a creative and technical approach. Not to be outdone, Raha responded to Hodges’ first round with two breathtaking first shots that wowed the judges and showcased his aggressive style, skills and finesse on the course: he jumped over the entire quarterpipe landing and landed a 120 ‘grand dawg backflip on the quarterpipe.
But in the end, it was Hodges’ technical prowess and huge jumps that sealed the final standings. In a line that ran all three sections, Axell flew over the big dawgs and quarterpipe, mounted a nose manual out of the funbox, and executed perfect whips and nacs with masterful precision. After the second inning, Hodges got a winning score of 94, Raha a score of 92 and Bereman got 86.
The three unique sections of the course are:
- Technical Jib Section – snowboard style jib section, featuring a 40ft container, funbox, wallride and hip that riders could hit in opposite directions at the same time.
- The Transfer Zone – a supercross inspired transfer with skatepark vibes, providing a clean slate for riders to express themselves on a myriad of row combos.
- Big Dawg Section – Moon booter, 140 ‘tree jump, step up and quarterpipe with a spine on the side so runners can be more creative in this space, with options to use the landing in any direction.
The final scores of the event were as follows:
- Axell Hodges – 94.0
- Colby Raha – 92.0
- Tyler Bereman – 86.0
- Josh Hill – 85.0
- Ryan Sipes – 84.0
- Cole Seely – 80.0
- Christian chest of drawers – 72.0
- Billy Bear Charpentier – 71.0
- Darryn Durham – 69.0
- Jimmy Hill – 64.0
- Tom Parsons – 58.0
- Vicki Golden – 56.0
Red Bull Imagination is described by Bereman as “[a] major work in progress. We are learning as we go and will continue to push freeriding in the right direction, giving riders opportunities they wouldn’t have anywhere else.
Viewers can now watch the exclusive series behind the scenes on Red Bull Motorsports YouTube and Red Bull TV. For more information visit https://www.redbull.com/us-en/projects/imagination