The 2015 or 10th anniversary of Red Bull Rampage was supposed to be a breakthrough year for one Utah local, Jeremy Hottinger.
Hailing from Springdale, Utah, where for a number of years he’s worked at Zion Cyclery, Jeremy “Kickstand” Hottinger has long aspired to have a chance at riding with the best on free ride mountain bikes biggest stage.
Since first seeing Rampage when he was 11 years old, Jeremy’s wanted to ride the big show and has been working on the skills to join the circus.
By Fahzure Freeride
Jeremy started getting serious about three years ago when the Rampage was held on the other side of the ridge of its current site. As a local, he could ride there, checking out the lines the pros had carved and developing his skills. Last year, a serious campaign was mounted to get Kickstand considered for the Rampage qualifications. Unfortunately, it was a little too late. But, now, Jeremy had a brand and was visible in the freeride community.
For 2015, Kickstand decided to devote himself fully to being a professional freerider in order to achieve a goal he’d been working toward for nearly half his life. And, because freeride mountain biking continues to develop, this included strength training, trick development and riding at speed. Kickstand knew you had to mount a media campaign, as well, and worked closely with photographer and videographer Rob Norbutt to show off his increasing freeride talents. All these efforts were organized around a #letkickstandride campaign. Still, even on the Monday before the main event, Kickstand was a fifth alternate.
Tuesday morning the news came in that Kickstand would get plate number 45, just two days before qualifications he was in. Kickstand quickly mounted an effort to dial-in a line that he had been assisting Wil White with. Bryce Helbing was enlisted as manager/chief bike pusher and several others joined in to assist and dial in the north ridge line.
The north ridgeline is of a lower gradient than most of the Rampage lines, with fewer big drops. However, the north ridge offers an opportunity for many smaller trickable jumps and drops. After two moderate cliff drops mid-way, the line finishes with a 20 out and 25 down drop to the run in for the YT Industries kicker in the lower bowl. Practice Tuesday was devoted to getting the step down to YT kicker dialed and running the beginning, west ridge line, portion a bit. Jeremy described his planned run as “fast and flowy” with a no-footer for Bender and classic style tricks like no handers and tables.
Wednesday was supposed to be a rest day, but about mid-day, anxiety, apprehension and the love of flying your bike kicked in and by noon Jeremy and his crew were at the site. Wednesday Kickstand and Wil focused on the upper west section of the ridge line, which contained a significant kicker gap right along the ridge with a narrow and quick transition. Kickstand’s family and a few special friends made the trek out to the site and watched as Jeremy and the other pros figured out their lines. Later, as the sun was setting, Kickstand rode the ridge cleanly throwing no footers and nasty tables. All that was left was to put together a top to bottom clean run in qualis with a few tricks and some good style.
Thursday morning rolled around and, of course, everyone was anxious. Kickstand and Bryce arrived at the venue early, before 8 o’clock, to roll the west ridge wind-free and dial-in the two ridge line cliff drops. Kickstand hit the west ridge section twice, cleanly, clearing the gap jump with speed. And, now the reminder it’s a wild and semi-controlled event. Two photographers, after being warned to be on the lookout, decided to ascend the north ridge and, just as Jeremy was dropping the second cliff, he struck the lead photographer with camera in hand.
Vital MTB member, aw_gooner, working security on the north ridge saw it this way:
“A few photographers hiked up the ridge past my position. A digger about 50 ft. past called out that a rider was coming down the line. I repeated this to the photographers. As the rider was coming closer we all repeated “rider up” again. The photographers stood below a drop completely unaware. One thing led to another and the rider came over the drop, into the photographer, over the bars and down the side of the ridge.”
The crash sent Jeremy tumbling over a small cliff and onto his shoulder. Fortunately the landing was steep and Jeremy’s injuries are not life-threatening, but the rotator cuff strain made it impossible to ride qualis. Jeremy and his team were clearly dejected, even mustering the energy to stare the event in the face over the next couple of days was difficult. With the support of family, other riders and friends and a good story to tell, Kickstand was able to rekindle the fire by the end of finals on Friday, where he walked around with a desirous look, at home with his fellow freeriders. Jeremy’s dreams are on hold until next year but he wants you to know that despite the premature exit, Rampage, “was an absolutely amazing experience and I enjoyed every moment!” Jeremy can’t wait for 2016 Rampage, knowing that more dreams will come true.