UPDATE: 3:15 p.m.
Vernon hometown hero Tom van Steenbergen clocked the fastest lap of the Red Bull Rampage bike competition in Utah on Friday, but seconds later he crashed and was transported to the hospital.
While 15 of the world’s top freeride riders qualified for the notoriously ruthless competition, 12 riders made it to competition day on Friday, with the other three dropping out due to injury.
Van Steenbergen was looking to beat his third place in 2019, but suffered a serious crash in his first run.
Just before the crash, van Steenbergen pulled off a front flip on a massive drop – a trick that ultimately won him the prize for the best trick of the event. But while the announcers were still rampaging over van Steenbergen’s front flip, he attempted a back flip on the next jump, landed awkwardly and went over his handlebars.
He was attended to by medical staff, while the competition was suspended for about 20 minutes. Little information on van Steenbergen’s state of health has been disclosed at this time, but advertisers said he was taken to a local hospital.
Whistler’s Brandon Semenuk took first place on Friday, becoming the first rider to win back-to-back Rampage events and the first to win four separate years.
Three-time Rampage winner Kurt Sorge from Nelson took second.
Brett Rheeder of Vernon, winner of the 2018 Rampage event, was unable to participate this year, due to a knee injury he sustained in September.
Tom van Steenbergen during testing at Red Bull Rampage this week.
ORIGINAL: 4 a.m.
Some of the best freeride mountain bikers are in Utah this week, competing in one of the best cycling competitions in the world. And Vernon’s Tom van Steenbergen is one of 15 contestants, looking to climb to his podium in 2019.
Red Bull Rampage turns 20 this week, after the annual event was canceled due to last year’s pandemic.
But this week the top runners gathered again in Virgin, Utah, where they spent days building their own tracks in the cutthroat wilderness, before doing their two competitive races today.
The judge marks the races according to the style, the figures, the difficulty of the lines and the size of the jumps and falls chosen.
Vernon’s van Steenbergen grabbed third place at the last Rampage event in 2019, when fellow BC riders Brandon Semenuk (first) and Brett Rheeder (second) also stepped onto the podium.
Van Steenbergen won fourth place the year before, but took home the best trick award that year with a flat backflip.
“The line is finished, now is the time to roll it all!” Hopefully good weather from now on, ”van Steenbergen said on Instagram on Wednesday.
Van Steenbergen has been running an annual Big White cycling competition since 2018.
Rheeder, who was born in Ontario but now also lives in Vernon, had to retire from competition this year after sustaining a knee injury in training last month. Rheeder took first place in the competition in 2018.
Whistler’s Semenuk, who took first place at Rampage in 2008, 2016 and 2019, is back this year, along with Nelson’s Kurt Sorge, who won the event in 2012, 2015 and 2017. This year’s contestants come from as far away as Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, Norway and across the United States.
Coverage of this year’s event kicks off on RedBull TV at 10 a.m. today.