"An elevator will take athletes to the fourth floor of the city hall"

Red Bull District Ride finally returns for its fifth instalment on September 1-2 this year. Course designer Martin Söderström gives us the lowdown.

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Red Bull District Ride in Nuremberg, September 1/2, 2017

Even if you don’t know your Superman-Seatgrabs from your Tsunami-Backflips and Twisters this autumn, Red Bull District Ride will be well worth watching. The biggest event of its type of the year and here’s Martin to explain why this year’s course will be one of the most spectacular and diverse slopestyle events ever.

Already enjoying a legendary status from previous hostings, the unique contest within the city centre of Nuremberg, Germany, will also be the stage for the crowning of the FMB World Champion.

The newly designed course will definitely challenge the abilities of the 20 top athletes at the FMB Diamond Series final. To have a shot at the title, the world’s best slopestylers will have to show their most ridiculous tricks in five districts. No other contest on the FMB World Tour features such variety in an urban setting.

A drop feature from the Kaiserburg, the city’s castle and landmark – logrides, wallrides and dirt jumps at historic locations will deliver a healthy dose of adrenaline and atmosphere in the more than 950-year-old city.

The bonkers highlight will come at the end: an elevator will take athletes to the fourth floor of the city hall where athletes will look out onto the ultimate Big Air District, where up to 20,000 smartphone-wielding spectators will be eagerly awaiting a spectacular finish/crash to the riders’ runs.

All the action from the FMB Diamond Series is broadcast LIVE on www.redbull.tv.

red bull district ride

Martin Söderström (blue beanie) seen during the location check of the Red Bull District ride in Nuremberg, Germany. (PIc: Red Bull Content Pool)

Martin, your name is tied to the history of this event. What makes Red Bull District different?

Martin Söderström: “Red Bull District Ride has always been my favourite event. Since most of our other events on the FMB World Tour are located on top of a mountain, it’s a very special feeling to stand in the start gate and look over the beautiful city of Nuremberg. That gets you in a good mood straight away and then you have the cheering crowd right next to you the whole way down the course. All of this will put a smile on your face even if you are scared of the big tricks you are going to perform.”

What is your favourite memory of riding through Nuremberg, when you look back?

MS: “When I look back at my whole career I would say that one of the most surreal experiences that I have ever had is from the last jump during the Red Bull District Ride event. I was standing on top of the 10-meter-high roll-in that was built on the big square in the city centre of Nuremberg, the adrenaline was still pumping from the tricks I had performed earlier in my run. As I dropped in, I realized that it was impossible to even recognize the square, because every inch of it was fully packed with 20,000 spectators. The feeling I had during that last trick is one I will never forget and I am very jealous of the riders that will experience that feeling again this September in Nuremberg.”

What was your motivation to become part of this mega event again?

MS: “I never managed to win the event as a rider, I just finished 2nd. So, now I at least get the chance to build the best course in District Ride history (laughs).”

red bull district ride

“And then they get in the elevator, right…” (Pic: Red Bull Content Pool)

You designed the course together with Drew Bezanson and the Mellow Park Crew. What will be new this year?

MS: “I am very happy with the crew that we have put together. Drew is an unbelievably creative BMX rider. I am sure he will add an interesting twist and some surprises to the Park District. I on the other hand hope to use my 10 years of experience in the slopestyle sport to create something that will take the riding to a new level. The thing I am most excited about on this year’s course is the new double drop in the Big Air District. If you send a backflip on the first jump, then you will see the huge crowd upside down for the first time. That is going to be awesome!”

A lot of FMB World Tour Events are set in the mountains. How do athletes have to adjust to compete in an urban setting?

MS: “I would say that the most amazing part of the event is to have the crowds so close to the course, but that is also one of the hardest things for the riders. When you are performing tricks on this level your focus has to be 110% on yourself and your own riding. Whether you can stay within your own contest bubble or not is more often than not the difference between a great result and a big crash.”

What is the biggest challenge for the athletes in the five districts?

MS: “I would say just that, the five districts. Usually on the FMB World Tour we have around 5-10 different jump features. On the Red Bull District Ride course we have 15-20, spread over all five districts. That doubles the risk to make a mistake on your way down and to lose a lot of points. I would say that the most consistent rider is the one that we are going to have on top of the podium and not the one with the biggest tricks.”

Which district would Martin Söderström love to shred in September and which tricks would he send?

MS: “I have always been a big fan of the technical riding. The fourth district will have many obstacles in a small area. This is a part of the course where you can either gain tons of points, if you have my riding style, or lose tons of points if you haven’t practiced your technical skills. I would probably do quite alright for myself in that district, but on the bigger hits on the rest of the course we are going to witness tricks that I wouldn’t even dream of!”

Who do you think will be contending for the title this year?

MS: “As I mentioned before the most consistent riders are going to do good on this course. To become consistent, you need many years of experience and practice so I would say that we are going to see many of the more established riders at the top. My guess would be: 1st Brett Rheeder (CAN), 2nd Max Fredriksson (SWE), 3rd Thomas Genon (BEL).”