Cast your minds way back to the start of 2019, when Hannah predicted this:
Women haven’t had a platform for trick-based competition, so there’s a chicken and egg situation of lack of coverage for role models and lack of goals for role models to pursue. The Vans BMX Pro Cup has shown that there are women out there who can do tricks on bikes, and an audience who want to see them perform. I’ve heard female pro mountain bikers who say they’re keen to have a shot at a Red Bull Rampage style event, and Crankworx has experimented with a women’s showcase event. Expect to see an increase in women riding for shits, giggles, and spectacular photographs.
She wasn’t too far off the mark, as 2019 saw the first Red Bull Formation take place. Then 2020 put a hold on events, but 2021 has seen the return of Formation, women at Proving Grounds, and at Audi Nines. Will 2021 go down as the year women’s Freeride hit the big time?
Here’s the latest from Audi Nines 2021, with a hefty dose of rad photos and a video edit with music that will make you regret that last coffee.
They came, they saw, they slayed. Audi Nines 2021 was proud to welcome a new group of riders into the family and to witness these women pushing mountain biking to new heights. From teenagers to veterans, the moment they rolled into the course, it was clear that Audi Nines is exactly where they belong.
This non-competitive environment brings together an incomparable crew of mountain bikers to ride their bikes and push each other. Liken it to watching the greatest soccer teams playing for fun on the street or great musicians jamming spontaneously together in a studio. This is Audi Nines. When the competitive element is removed, it allows space for magic to happen, and that’s exactly what went down on every part of the course. From Freeride to Slopestyle, in only a few short days, these women not only raised the roof, they smashed through it, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down.
Action Sports photographer & journalist Alba Pardo gives insight into what it was like to be present at the women’s debut at Audi Nines 2021:
“Progression and evolution of a sport can be tricky concepts to grasp. Evolution from what, progression to where and compared to whom? However, without them, we would still be in the era of the wooden wheel.
The most relevant example of taking a sport to the next level, at this moment in time, is women’s MTB slopestyle and freeride. These Queens of Gnar showed up at Audi Nines and embodied how passion, talent, skill, and just enough insanity can shatter everyone’s expectations. The setup was filled with huge, technical, and high consequence features that intimidated many riders, including the most experienced, let alone those who had never dropped into these infamous lines.
To begin with, nobody quite knew what to expect. Progression, yes, but how much and in what setting? Would women ride the whole quarry or just a little part of it? Did they have the skills and the confidence to approach these big and technical features? These were questions uttered from lips. Take a moment to reflect on the fact that most have never had the opportunity to approach a setup of this scale, or to session and progress alongside the best riders in the world. Then they dropped in, and any preconceptions were left in the dust.
The amount of camaraderie, energy, determination, and utter willingness to get out of their comfort zones and face uncharted territory was staggering. Their actions truly embodied the word ‘Gnar’. The debut of these riders at Audi Nines showcased the unstoppable, limitless force of women’s Freeride and Slopestyle mountain biking that is currently rippling across the globe. This is just the beginning.”
Audi Nines is an intersection between athletic prowess and creative minds. ‘Queens of Gnar’ is led by women and the collaboration with editor Anjuna Hartmann, colourist Matilda Schön, director Sophie Acworth, and music producer Something Something. From those in front of the camera to those behind the scenes, this video highlights the passion and skills of these women on a multitude of levels. So sit back, press play, and prepare to witness the start of a new era in mountain biking.