Whitefish, MT – February 17, 2003 -One of the most inventive free-ride mountain bike events, Red Bull Freezride, went down this weekend at Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Montana. Celebrating its second year, Red Bull Freezride combines the elements of free-ride mountain biking and technical park riding in a snow- and ice-covered environment. This winter slope style and jib park event challenged the assembled crew of 54 pro and semi-pro riders with varied backgrounds in mountain bike, BMX and skatepark riding. The dynamics of this year’s demanding course allowed for multiple lines with big options that had to be visualized and encouraged the technical riders to push their limit. The steep, unforgiving course featured a variety of natural and urban obstacles such as 14-foot-high loop, wall hits, kickers, rollers, North Shore skinny planks, picnic tables, an 100-foot gap jump and a bus buried in the snow. German backflip specialist and 2002 Freezride champion Timo Pritzel narrowly beat out California-based BMX trick God Chris Duncan for the title and a piece of the $7,000 prize purse.


Qualifying rounds got under way on Friday, February 14th and continued through Saturday, February 15th, narrowing the total number of Freezride competitors from 54 down to 12 pro and 6 semi-pro riders for the main event Saturday night. Two big moves–a backflip off a hit at the top of the course followed by the 50-foot triple–landed Timo Pritzel in first place during the pro qualifying rounds and ultimately served as the tie-breaker for the final round where he tied with Chris Duncan. Winning results were announced during an awards ceremony on Sunday night.

“At first I was going to play it safe because it is so difficult with the snow,” said Pritzel. “Then I decided to go for it?technically I knew I had to land the flip, then the triple. It means a lot to me to win for a second time–I’m really stoked.”

“Both Timo and Chris showed similar styles and tricks for the main event which resulted in the tie. We had to look back at the variation and execution each took during the qualifying round to determine the overall winner,” said Shaums March, one of the top American downhillers and designer of the Winter X-Games biker-cross and Red Bull Freezride courses.

Chris Duncan went through two pairs of forks, a drive train and a back wheel during the qualifying rounds but thanks to part donations by Glacier Cyclery he was able to pull it all together for an amazing final run. “The course was really demanding. You have to constantly watch the conditions–if the air or surface conditions change you have to adjust your speed or you’ll break your bike or body,” said Duncan.

Aaron Kempf, 17, Squamish, British Columbia, started off with hitting big air at the top with a no footer and continued on by sticking the biggest jump by far as an amateur: the 50-foot triple. Kempf followed up with technical tricks off the bus, an alley-oop footplant, and hit two more obstacles – linking it all together to put him in first place among the amateurs drawn from the talented pool of riders from the Northwest and Canada. For his efforts, Kempf was awarded a restored ambulance that has been tricked out for ultimate road tripping comfort.

Cory Leclerc was the only rider to attempt and complete the 14-foot loop during the event and has become the first rider ever to nail the loop on a full suspension bike.


Unlike traditional mountain biking events that are judged on time, competitors of Red Bull Freezride were judged on style, technique, and overall fluidity throughout their respective runs. Five style judges and seven technical judges evaluated the rider’s run through the course. During each run the rider was requested to hit as many obstacles as possible to better their score. The obstacles were scored according to a point scale ranging from 1-15. Each rider was judged on his technical ability and style on the obstacle. By offering a wide range of options down the course, each rider choose their own line, allowing them to determine the difficulty level of their run.


The Pros

1st Place Timo Pritzel              7th Place Cameron Zink
2nd Place Chris Duncan          8th Place Aaron Chase
3rd Place Darren Berrecloth    9th Place Robbie Bourden
4th Place Eric Porter               10th Place Cory Leclerc
5th Place Kyle Ebbet               11th Place Joe Schwartz
6th Place John Jesme             12th Place Robbie Miranda

The Semi-pros

1st Place Aaron Kempf
2nd Place Greg Clark
3rd Place Paul Lecava
4th Place Cameron McCaul
5th Place Willy Warren
6th Place Trent Kidd

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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