The 2022 FMB World Tour Season is off to a Strong Start

It feels like only yesterday we were losing our minds as Emil Johansson became the second rider ever to win the Triple Crown of Slopestyle... Alejandro Bonafe was named the 2021 Red Bull Rookie of the Year... And Chance Moore dropped the Best Line of the season...

So, it’s a little hard to believe that we’re already three months into the 2022 FMB World Tour season. But as we look back on these past few months, filled with some pretty epic happenings in the mountain biking community, it all makes sense.

Now, in case you're not up to speed on everything that’s gone down across all facets of this discipline recently, we’re here to catch you up. Plus, we might even have the insider’s scoop on the first event of the season, Highline Mountain Bike Festival...

FMB World Tour Rider License Registration Goes Live

Every year we’re filled with anticipation waiting to see what riders are going to bring to the table and every year our expectations are still blown out of the water. This year is looking good with so many of you having already registered for your 2022 Rider License and officially committed to a season of hard work and endless opportunities.

And don’t worry, if you’re reading this thinking “shoot I totally forgot to get my license for this year,” you’re not too late. Whether you’re in the market for the FMB Free Amateur License, FMB World Tour Men’s License, or FMB World Tour Women’s License, they’re still available and you can get yours today! Register here and get stoked for the 2022 FMB World Tour season.

The FMBA Announces the Addition of the FMB World Tour Women’s Division

Some news also came out of the Freeride Mountain Bike Association (FMBA) in February with the announcement of the FMB World Tour Women’s Division. When we connected with female riders on the addition, there was no shortage of enthusiasm. However, Kathi Kuypers, someone who has longed to see this change for years, may have expressed many female riders’ feelings best when she said simply: “This is all I’ve ever wanted.”

As the result of years of hard work from athletes, event organizers, advocates for Women in freeride, the significance of the addition was not lost on the rest of the mountain biking community, with many commenting on the positive change that it will bring. Nicholi Rogatkin saw the addition of a Women’s Division as “a massive inspiration for future generations of female riders,” and a “huge opportunity for [Women in freeride] to finally have a stage to show their incredible bike skills.”

The 2022 FMB World Tour Calendar Launches

In mid-March, the 2022 FMB World Tour calendar officially launched with a roster of 24 (and still counting!) events, 13 of which were already set to host a Women’s Division. Ready for a season not experienced since pre-pandemic, riders were keen to see what the lineup of events would include. Here are the highlights:

  • The 2022 FMB World Tour is expected to host five Diamond level events for the first time since 2017 with the return of Red Bull District Ride and the addition of a new Crankworx festival.
  • A new Crankworx World Tour stop (location coming soon!) means that the Crankworx FMB Slopestyle World Championship (SWC) will feature four Diamond level events for the first time since 2018.
  • Beloved FMB Gold level events O Marisquino and Big White Invitational are making a comeback.
  • Three National Series – Australian Slopestyle Tour, Freebird Slopestyle Series, and Swiss Dirt Series – will support regional freeride mountain bike events.
  • A new FMB Gold level event, SilverStar Slopestyle, is to be introduced in Canada.

With the 2022 FMB World Tour set to visit 12 different countries (the first being Australia for Highline Mountain Bike Festival... details below!), more than anything, the mountain biking community looked forward to reuniting in the sport’s feeling of comradery. “The pure love for the sport and to watch the progression of riding from all levels, professional to beginners,” said Mike Ross on what brings together such a widespread, diverse community. You can check out the full 2022 event schedule here.

The Season Kicks Off with Australia’s Highline Mountain Bike Festival

The last weekend in March saw the first event of the season with Australia’s Highline Mountain Bike Festival, a kickoff to the 2022 FMB World Tour that did not disappoint. Shannon Rademaker, Event Manager, shared that with the weather “on point,” featuring some sun and a light breeze, approximately 1,500 spectators showed up to watch the riders throw down. With 14 riders competing in the Men’s Division and 8 riders competing in the Women’s Division, the event was simply “a great success!”

As with many events though, Rademaker noted that “it was a massive lead up to the festival with so many elements to pull together to make it happen.” However, no one would have ever been the wiser. “Once all was in place, riders took to practic[ing] to feel out the course [and] from there it was go time! You could feel the intensity in the air when it came to competition time – the vibe was electric! Every rider was putting in a solid run, making the judges think long and hard about the score. The crowd [was] going wild with excitement [for] what they were witnessing.” Reflecting on the event now, Rademaker said that the overall highlight was “how stoked everyone was [just] living in the moment of Australia’s Slopestyle scene, from the spectators to the sponsors to the riders to [his] team!”

On the intensity of the Men’s Division final, Rademaker shared: “Mike Ross’ first run threw down a top score and a hard run to beat, [but] Luke Parker’s second run was a cracker and put him into first place. Gaelan Slaney’s second stomped a good score that put himself into third place. Mike Ross was [the] last rider down with all the pressure to beat Luke Parker. His run started off smooth, but a crash halfway down stopped the opportunity to take the win, but [he] held onto second place. It was an emotional time for all riders and supporters to watch such a close final.”

First place finisher, Luke Parker, let us in on how it felt to take the title: “It feels amazing, I put a lot of pressure on myself prior to the event but once the competition started, I just tried to enjoy myself and have fun riding with everyone. My winning run didn’t have all the tricks I wanted, but I only had two set tricks I wanted to achieve for myself and that was the front flip off the cannon log to double backflip the next jump. After that, the plan was to triple whip the last jump but I didn't have enough speed, so I had to do a double whip and just made sure I landed clean which was lucky enough to just get the win.”

Men’s Division Results:

  1. Luke Parker
  2. Mike Ross
  3. Gaelan Slaney

Rademaker saw the same level of intensity emanate from the Women’s Division final: “We were excited to host an official [FMB sanctioned] Women’s Slopestyle competition! And very lucky to have two of the world's best riders, Caroline Buchanan and Harriet Burbidge-Smith. to compete and be there as inspiration for six new women to Slopestyle who competed for the first time. All the Women put down great runs, showcasing their range of tricks. We look forward to seeing the future of Women grow in this sport!”

Recently retired BMX athlete and now full-time mountain biker, Caroline Buchanan, shared how she felt after the season’s opening weekend: “The entire Highline event is an absolute buzz of a weekend. To be able to compete in the first ever Women’s FMB Slopestyle event and be a part of history is something I’m so proud of and [have] been working hard towards. To take out the win and execute a clean run down the four-feature course felt unreal. I love the buzz of competing and after retiring from BMX racing and diving deep right into freeride mountain biking eight months ago, I feel exactly where I am supposed to be.”

Women’s Division Results:

  1. Caroline Buchanan
  2. Katie Lawlor
  3. Harriet Burbidge-Smith

So, yeah... the 2022 FMB World Tour season is off to a strong start, wouldn’t you agree? Up next on the calendar is Australia’s Xup Freeride Festival, the first stop of the Australian Slopestyle Tour. With only a little over a month to go, and the first event of the season showing the insane amount of talent in the rider pool this year, we’re chomping at the bit to get back at it.