Red Bull Dirt Pipe from the onset was always going to be grand. A 120-metre half pipe carved out of Australian red dirt in the middle of the Victorian alpine region, add some of the sickest jumps, hips and wall-rides, and what transpired was truly epic.
Expressions commonly heard from the BMX riders were "scary", "massive" and "holy shit, that thing is huge".
Following three days of rain that put the competition on hold, the sun finally appeared on Sunday allowing the pipe to dry out and the course builders to get in there and essentially start shaping the pipe all over again. They put in a massive effect and the riders were able to hit the pipe Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday. And hit it they did. There were a lot of awed faces as they looked over the formidable pipe, working out what lines to run. Expressions commonly heard from the BMX riders were "scary", "massive" and "holy shit, that thing is huge".
The format of the event was re-engineered to a jam session due to the shortened ride time. Points and prizes were allocated for 'best run', 'best train' and 'best wall ride'.
With riders working together, the Train Jam was something special, and broke the ice on the usual competition day nerves. Bringing an amazing amount of trail skills, trust and talent into the mix, Clint Bensley and Lee Kirkman were hungry for the $2000 up for grabs. Not content with simply following the leader down the pipe lines, they got their cross over helix-like action going in full effect, throwing some big moves at insane speeds in a performance that would earn them the dollars and respect, along with setting the bar for the main event.
The Skullcandy Wall Ride jam brought the street skills of modern day BMX to the innovative and simply awe inspiring pipe. With judges looking for best use of the wall ride that perched itself above the 2m high dirt transitions of the pipe, riders carved the wooden wall up to 4m above the flat bottom. The ensuing session was heated to say the least. Ultimately San Diego’s Gary Young took the win with a barspin air onto the wall ride and a completely unexpected tail whip off and back into the pipe, getting the assembled crew on their feet!
With the warm up events done and dusted, it was time for the real deal. The single Best Run by the rider with the most style, flow, speed and huge tricks on this epic dirt creation. The one hour session brought out the best in all those that braved the weekend floods. With an international cast of BMX’s elite that included the likes of UK’s Kye Forte, Anthony Napolitan and Mike ‘Hucker’ Clarke from the US and of course Australia’s own Corey Bohan, the pipe witnessed some of the most fluid and off-the-hook riding BMX has ever seen.
Young Wangaratta rider Chris Henderson stepped up in front of many of his idols. His fluid style, adaptability and all or nothing attitude brought him close to the podium places with a solid fourth place and proved that the talent base in Australia's riding scene is virtually endless.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has more fun on a BMX, be it in a car park or 4 metres above the ground, Mike ‘Hucker’ Clarke was bringing his brand of Californian fun to the Victorian high country. Huge airs, ridiculous transfers, never complete without a smile, his big runs earned him a solid third place.
But it was to be the crew from the Southern Hemisphere that shined brightest. Unfazed by the superstar calibre of riders present, it was a pair of New Zealand riders that rode above and beyond anyone's expectations. Hamilton resident, Paul Langlands muscled his way down the pipe's multiple walls, kickers and chutes with big moves including a backflip tail whip and some huge step down moves. And unlike many, he rode for the entire hour session, his second place result earned with more than his fair share of blood and sweat.
While the hour session format constantly upped the anté for most, New Zealand's Jed Mildon first run may have been the one that took him the win. Tricking every wall and hit on the pipe in a run that included a huge 360, tuck no hander, a step down front-flip and his now signature hip-flip transfer line, he proved that nice guys can come first. Jed put the icing on the cake with what may have been the biggest flip ever seen on Australian soil over the bottom hip; so big, so slow and so smooth. His mix of 100% commitment, complete focus and incredible toughness even after some of the days biggest crashes making a massive statement to all who witnessed. To say Jed is one of the toughest riders in BMX is an understatement and there couldn’t be a more deserving winner.