The gnarliest urban course of all time in the old town of Nuremberg with the world’s best slopestyle athletes: action sport and bike fans can look forward to the biggest Superman-Seatgrabs, Tsunami-Backflips and Twisters this autumn, as Red Bull District Ride finally returns for its fifth installment on September 1-2. Already enjoying a legendary status, the unique contest within the city center of Nuremberg, Germany, will also be the stage for the crowning of the FMB World Champion on a course bearing the signatures of two of the biggest names in the bike world: slopestyle legend Martin Söderström and BMX superstar Drew Bezanson.
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 raddest tricks in five districts. No other contest on the FMB World Tour features such variety in an urban setting; no other contest demands such all-round prowess of the athletes.
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 for the athletes and breath-taking action for the spectators in the more than 950-year-old city. The absolute highlight will come last: 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 spectators will be eagerly awaiting the spectacular finish to the riders’ runs on Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. In an interview Martin Söderström reveals why Red Bull District Ride will be the biggest event of the year and why this year’s course will be one of the most spectacular and diverse in the world.
Martin, your name is tied to the history of this legendary event. What makes Red Bull District so special?
Red Bull District Ride has always been my favorite 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 favorite memory of riding through Nuremberg, when you look back?
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 center 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?
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).
You designed the course together with Drew Bezanson and the Mellow Park Crew. What will be new this year?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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).
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