In a race characterised by high speeds and huge jumps, the key to winning the 2022 Red Bull Hardline came down the speed in the technical sections of the track
While the headline shots from the Red Bull Hardline in 2022 will heavily feature the huge Dirty Ferns step-on-off and the massive jumps along the Waterfall section, when it came to crunch time it was speed in the technical sections that was the key to success.
A significant percentage of riders fell by the wayside due to injury before the finals on Sunday, including Jess Blewitt, Josh Lowe and George Brannigan. On finals day itself nineteen riders lined up on a peak in the Dyfi Valley, Wales, to take on the fiendishly technical course designed by Dan Atherton.
On a track where wind can play a huge part, and with inclement weather inbound, racing was brought forward an hour to ensure those nineteen riders had the best possible conditions for their attempt on the gnarliest downhill race in the world.
From the start it was clear that the competitors weren’t holding back, with a blisteringly fast time laid down early on from Ronan Dunne. It became quickly evident that a flawless performance in the technical sections of the top and lower woods were key to getting a good time, and several riders fell afoul of the wet conditions in that top section of the track.
French freerider Vincent Tupin opted for style on his run, with a dramatic backflip on the step-up jump and a suicide no hander on the infamous road gap, much to the enjoyment of the spectators.
Joe Smith and Taylor Vernon, both Hardline veterans, pulled fast and smooth runs out of the bag, placing them alongside Jackson Goldstone who occupied the hot seat with two riders to go: Adam Brayton and multiple Hardline winner Bernard Kerr.
But both Brayton and Kerr fell victim to the first wood section, with Brayton sliding out just below the Rock Drop feature, and Kerr crashing on the entrance to the woods.
This meant that Jackson Goldstone took the win at Red Bull Hardline 2022, with Joe Smith in second place and Taylor Vernon in third.
And the winner is… Jackson Goldstone
Canadian Jackson Goldstone’s calm approach to the track had been impressing spectators all week, and when it came to lay it all out on the line, he bossed his Hardline debut with an incredible run that blended speed with precision and style to take victory. The 18-year-old 2021 Junior World Champion put down an impressive time of 2:20.525.
“That was incredible – I can’t believe how today went!” Goldstone commented on his win. “Definitely, luck was on my side and it’s not the way I wanted to win with a couple of the big dogs crashing out, especially Bernand Kerr who was riding on another level, but I’m still stoked with that run and had such a fun time here.”
“I was able to add more speed from yesterday’s qualifying – with more time on the track everyone was getting quicker and I could give it a perfect run doing everything I could. I’ll definitely be doing this race from now until forever time”.
Goldstone was the first rider to put together a whole run in practice, and also wins the accolade of becoming the first person to win the event on their first attempt (since the inaugural event) – and we suspect there are more victories ahead for this young rider.
Special mention goes to Gee Atherton, making his return to racing after a bad crash in 2021. With an impressively smooth run that took him to fifth place overall, he won the hearts of the crowd and proved he’s more than got what it takes to return to racing at the highest level of the sport.
“Red Bull Hardline gave me the motivation I needed to accelerate my recovery and boosted my determination to get back between the tape,” commented Atherton. “From not knowing if I was going to ride this year at all, to being back on the track here at Red Bull Hardline – I couldn’t be any happier”.
Jess Blewitt, the first woman to ride at Red Bull Hardline, might not have been able to compete in the finals but didn’t go away empty handed. She was awarded the BF Goodrich Rider of the Week by her fellow racers, and we’re hoping she’ll make a return to deal with unfinished business in the future.
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