Carson Storch Interview – Ready to Rampage
Going into his fifth year competing at Red Bull Rampage, Carson has already experienced nearly all the highs and lows an event of this magnitude can offer.
“It's pretty awesome to be a part of the greatest mountain bike event to ever exist. . . it's always been a childhood dream of mine.” Going into his fifth year competing at Red Bull Rampage, Carson has already experienced nearly all the highs and lows an event of this magnitude can offer. And beyond his own goals, he’s putting in the work to support the next round of athletes who share his childhood dreams. “Red Bull Rampage has 'made' a lot of careers overnight, including mine,” he says.
Carson wasn’t yet competing in any of the ‘big’ events when he made it his goal to compete at Rampage in 2014. He worked hard all year; filming an entrance video and placing in the top ten at events like Red Bull Joyride (he got called up from the alternate list the morning of the competition) and District Ride. With his foot in the door, he qualified at Rampage his first year and threw down three runs. He ended up 15th overall but it was enough to get him invited back the following year. In 2015, when Carson crashed during his last practice run at Red Bull Joyride and broke his collar bone, it seemed unlikely that he would be healed in time to compete at Rampage. But with his determination and commitment to physiotherapy, he was ready in time. However, things didn’t go as planned. While testing a jump during practice, Carson crashed and hurt his ankle (an injury that would plague him for the next two-and-a-half years) forcing him to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the event.
“I came into  with a stronger mindset,” Carson says. And it worked. He took third place and best trick (for 3’ing a big drop). “I didn't expect it, it just happened mostly because I was having fun with it at that particular event.” This became a pivotal moment in Carson’s career allowing him to focus on freeride and filming and less on slopestyle.
The following year Carson placed 7th overall at Red Bull Rampage. But again last year, he had a challenging experience.
Last year was a tough one for you at Rampage, what happened?
Last year was a new zone, and that always means a crazy amount of building. I simply didn't have time to finish the middle part of my line, which was basically the easiest part. It was the weak link and got me on both runs and in practice. I actually took two hard slams the morning of the big day and almost didn't get cleared to ride. It really put me in the worst possible mental state while sitting at the top about to drop in for my runs.
What is your approach this year at Rampage with going back to the same zone?
My goal is to focus on getting my line dialled and building a whole new middle section that will hopefully be fast and raw and allow me to get to my big drop feeling stoked.
What was your involvement with Proving Grounds?
I guess you could call me the facilitator. Todd Barber approached Kyle Jameson and me with the idea, and we thought it could be something great for the sport of Freeride, so we helped kickstart it by piggybacking it off of Black Sage.
Why do you think it's important to have an event like this for entrance into Red Bull Rampage?
I believe that Proving Grounds is great for upcoming talent, it gives a few people the chance to get into Rampage. I also think it's still important to have the other 8 wildcards invited based on prior results, video parts, etc - just like it's always been.
The thing that gets me most excited, is the potential for a series of 'Proving Grounds' style events around the world. It's something that fills the void in freeride, that obviously isn't Rampage, and not Fest Series, but essentially a mix of both. There are, of course, people who don't agree with my view of it, but I honestly think it would be huge for our sport, and a way to cater to the younger generations by giving them something inclusive to work towards.
What has the past year looked like for you in terms of highs and lows?
There have been many highs this year, not too many lows - which is always the goal. Black Sage is always a highlight of the year for me, so much work goes into it and at the end, it's always worth it. I travelled all year, competed in a few slope comps, and did a lot of filming. It’s been a great year!
You got to preride the Red Bull Joyride course in Whistler this year, what did you think about the changes?
I thought the course changes were a definite step in the right direction. I feel like a course full of options and a little more creativity is good. It opens the door up for anyone to take it! It was so fun to get back on the Joyride course. The last time I rode it was when I was competing in 2015 and broke myself off in practice. It felt good to cruise it again successfully and get some demons out of my head!
What are you most excited to be focusing on at the moment?
Rampage is always a rad thing to focus on. You have to stay healthy all year, and being prepared for Utah is riding big mountain terrain and overall bike control. So I can ride anything, film anything, and have that in the back of my head. Filming is another thing I love focusing on because it forces creativity and brings me back to my roots of exploration and riding every type of mountain bike.
When starting out in your career, it is important to say yes to everything and gain as much exposure as possible, how does it feel to have reached a position where you can pick and choose your projects and competitions?
Yep, coming into my career I was doing anything and everything to get my name out there, which was an awesome experience. But nowadays it's pretty surreal to just do what I want to do, which is to focus on video and photo projects that are quality over quantity and do the same with events. I try and do builds for video projects that will last and build up the scene. A lot of what I focus on is doing these builds in Bend or in elsewhere in Oregon. The more going on in a scene means more motivation from the younger generations and more for them to look forward to being apart of one day.
You have a 'yet-unnamed-project' that you have been focusing the majority of your time and energy on. Can you talk about it yet?
Not quite yet! We are close to releasing the teaser for it though. I have been working with Clay Porter for the past year and a half on this film project, among others, and it's been a great time. All I can say is I'm extremely stoked on it and it will hopefully release the Summer of 2020 (TBA).
Digging at Red Bull Rampage has commenced and Carson and his build team are already hard at work putting in long days to create a fast and raw mid-section in his 2018 run. Given Carson’s abilities, his drive, and the wisdom he has shown again and again throughout his career he is always one to watch. But beyond Red Bull Rampage, his commitment to freeride development, inclusivity, and the generations that will follow in his footsteps is what makes Rocky Mountain most proud to have him on their team.
Good luck Carson!
Back and forth, forward and back. Mastery on the bike comes from constant repetition. Whether it’s your hundredth time down a trail or you’re about to drop into a new one for the first time, steady, well-rehearsed motions are what will get you through. So, ride fast and send it deep because the Slayer is built for those who charge.
Carson Storch’ WW2 desert bomber Maiden
Rocky Mountain’s history at the Red Bull Rampage starts back in 2001 when Wade Simmons won the very first Rampage. Over the next 17 years, our riders competed every single year but one, including an impressive eight-year stint from Thomas Vanderham. Now, Carson Storch is carrying the freeride torch in the Utah desert and is ready to battle it out for his fifth Rampage appearance.
Carson’s custom painted Maiden was a collaboration with his friend, KC Badger. Carson and KC are both from Bend, Oregon and they wanted to bring elements from their hometown into the WW2 bomber themed paintjob. Taking inspiration from both eastern Oregon and the Utah desert, details of the artwork include a Rocky Mountain rattlesnake headtube, a “Maiden” cowgirl with an Oregon shaped body, rivet details, and five bombs signifying each of Carson’s Rampage appearances. The frame is hand painted from start to finish using enamel paint, just as they would’ve done on the original planes.
“I’m a big fan of both KC’s riding skills and his artistic abilities, so for him to hand paint me this frame for Rampage truly is an honour. It’s based off a WW2 plane I saw at the Museum of Flight in Seattle…and I can’t wait to get it up in the air next week!” – Carson Storch
“Sure, it would have been easier to just design some custom decals, have the bike painted and slap them on, but we wanted to try and emulate Carson’s riding through the paint job – NO SHORTCUTS.” – KC Badger
“I’m beyond thankful to Carson for trusting me to do this bike for him. I hope it brings him good luck, keeps him safe, and I think it’s going to look even better with a first place medal strung around it!” – KC Badger
The four horsemen. 4x4s. Four leafed clovers. Four letter words. Fourtified. Wade Simmons, Remi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck, and Carson Storch take their new Altitudes to the four corners of the earth.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWords & riding: Wade Simmons Photos: Brian Vernor
We've had a winter for the record books up in BC this year. Great for skiing, not so much for riding. I'm twitchier than a cornered housecat when I can't ride, so I jumped at the opportunity to do some warm-weather shredding down in the Los Angeles area on the new Altitude.
Pro tip: 4am is a good time to head out the door if you want to beat LA traffic.
LA, I reckon, wouldn't be on most peoples hit-list for a great riding destination. Myself included. Being the largest city on the western US seaboard, and having the nation's worst traffic, I was starting to wonder why the hell we were going to LA in the first place. Could we escape the city and do the new bike justice? Our photographer and man-on-the-scene Brian Vernor picked us up from the airport, and within the hour he was easing my concerns over mindblowing tacos and coffee-infused horchata. He promised the riding would be as good as the food.
Just in case Vernor was full of shit, I had some ideas up my sleeve too. I've been in the area a few times in my 20 years of hunting around for lines to film, and I've left a few nugs untouched. I was looking forward to possibly hitting them up on this trip.
To be honest, my fears were 100% unfounded. The riding in the LA area proved to be plentiful and diverse. We rode flowy urban singletrack, loose subalpine trails, freshly built jumps and berms, and a few big mountain lines. Pretty much a mountain bike smorgasbord, all within an hours drive from the Hollywood Hotel where we stayed. Maybe the riding is even better than the food...
Derby, TasmaniaWords & riding: Remi Gauvin Photos: Dave Trumpore
The second round of the Enduro World Series brought the Rally Team to Derby, Tazmania. Built only three years ago, we were racing on 7 wildly varying stages across 57 kilometers with 1700 meters of climbing.
Mild sunny weather during practice gave way to rain on race day, throwing many challenging trails into pure chaos. Stage two held the much-feared meter-wide crack on Detonate, with multiple riders being chewed up inside and spit out into the rocks below, but the real challenge of the race was at the top of stage 4 where rain washed the supporting dirt out of a high speed rock garden filled with holes.
I'd been working hard to adjust to the changing conditions over the race, and as the day wore on I started feeling stronger—bagging a 4th place finish on stage six, it was pretty fast and constant high speeds, which suit my style. Stage 7 was a short woods section with a sprint to the finish. It was kind of like riding the trails of the North Shore, which helped. It was kinda cold and miserable, and you didn’t want to be that dirty but you just keep going.
At the end of it all I fought my way up to 9th overall—finally achieving my goal of cracking the top 10 at an EWS. The Rally Team took the team win, with the whole crew putting up strong results. This puts us all in a place where we're happy, but getting fired up for the next round!
Sunshine Coast, British ColumbiaWords & riding: Vaea Verbeeck Photos: Margus Riga
With the snowline down to sea level in Vancouver, I wanted to be able to get on the gas and see how the new bike would respond. The obvious choice was the Sunshine Coast. It has unreal riding conditions almost year-round, and the Coast Gravity park has some of my favourite trails ever.
I love it there. The people, the ambiance, beautiful Sechelt, they all make it a destination of choice. [although for some reason all of Sechelt uses Papyrus font... what gives? -Ed.] CGP is one of the places that helps me feel good about going fast on the bike again during the off season. The guys work tirelessly to keep their trails impeccable, and it offers a perfect variation from the tech of the North Shore.
We had a tight weather window to shoot before a major system moved in, we were excited to get a few clear days. It was beautiful and dry, but oh so cold! With the cold came trails like glass covered in pine needles—always trying to throw me on my head! The perfectly sculpted corners had this incredible layer of hoarfrost that made for eerie noises and a surreal ride feel. I'm not sure if I had too much grip or not enough.
Despite being intimidated to send it into some of the natural terrain with challenging conditions, I quickly got used to the new whip and started opening up the throttle. Bluebird days, CGP's keys in my hand, untouched berms to myself, and sending it on my new favourite bike—this was definitely the highlight of my off season, and I quickly forgot about the sub-zero temperatures.
I'm thankful for those few days of shredding, and I'm going to keep the good times rolling through the season!
Queenstown, New ZealandWords & riding: Carson Storch Photos: Tyler Roemer
Riding the Fernhill Loop above Queenstown was epic every time. It has a little bit of everything. Climbing up through a mix of alpine terrain, going into native forest with quick descents here and there. You end up at the McGazza memorial, pay your respects to the big man, then drop into salmon run- which is a mix of steep techy trail, and loam. I would say this bike was made for that loop.
I also rode Skyline bike park in Queenstown quite a bit, so I had it set up in the slackest RIDE-9 position. The suspension was set up fairly stiff with slow rebound. When I 450'ed that hip in the bike park, it was completely comfortable! It felt like I was on a slopestyle bike. Then when I got back to ripping trail, it was snappy and responsive, while taking some pretty big impacts with ease. All around ripping bike.
New Zealand is my favourite place in the world, so having the chance to go my favourite place and test out the new Altitude was a dream come true.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the new Altitude
Directed by Liam Mullany
Produced by Brian Park
Featuring Wade Simmons, Rémi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck & Carson Storch
Filmed by Liam Mullany, Harrison Mendel & John Parkin
Edited by Liam Mullany
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Original Music by Thinnen
The new Altitude is here
Taking trail to new heights. Often imitated but never surpassed, the all-new Altitude pushes the envelope of what a modern trail bike is capable of.
For 2018 we've designed an all-new frame to increase stiffness, improve pedaling efficiency and small-bump sensitivity, and include a host of next-generation features. Now available in both carbon and alloy models, the Altitude allows for a wide range of RIDE-9™ adjustments to tackle any terrain—from technical BC loam, to clapped out EWS tracks, flowy New Zealand jumps, and Moab slickrock singletrack.
"The Altitude has always been my go-to, do-everything bike, from technical climbs here on the North Shore to burly descents in the Italian Alps. This new one improves everything I love about the bike—it’s smoother, stiffer, lower, slacker, quieter, and nails all the little details. Just like this old freerider, the Altitude gets better with age!” — Wade SimmonsIntended Use: Aggressive Trail Wheel Size: 27.5 Wide Trail Front Travel: 160mm Rear Travel: 150mm
Improved suspension performance
We’ve increased overall progression and support at sag, while making small-bump performance even more sensitive. Higher anti-squat values dramatically improve pedaling efficiency.
Next generation features
Comprehensive evolutionary updates across the platform include features like tooled axles, single-sided bearing pivots, integrated “spirit guide” chainguide, boost spacing, and metric shock compatibility.
Our Ride-9™ system provides a wide range of geometry and suspension adjustability; it has been moved into the link for lighter, narrower packaging.
To add control and descending capability, we’ve increased reach, slackened the headtube angle, and lowered the bottom bracket. We’ve retained short chainstays to keep the bike agile, and used a moderately steep seattube for efficient climbing performance.
- Increased anti-squat for better pedaling efficiency
- 27.5” Wide Trail and 26+ compatible
- Bearings at all pivots, including at lower shock mount (compatible with aftermarket shocks as well)
- Blind pivots maximize heel clearance
- Lighter, tooled rear axle
- Improved cable management: large headtube ports, full shift housing, large downtube access port, and internal shift and brake housing within the front triangle
- Future-proofed to be compatible with Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post simultaneously
- Seat-tube lengths have been adjusted to accommodate longer dropper posts at maximum insertion.
- Chainstay and downtube protectors. *Due to production delays, the initial shipment of 2018 Altitudes will not include downtube protectors. They will be shipped to shops as soon as they’re ready.
- Integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide, with 2-bolt ISCG05
- 1x only
- Lower standover height
- Significantly stiffer thanks to one-piece seatstay, new envelope, and updated layup (25% more lateral stiffness)
- Modern parts compatibility (boost spacing, metric shock lengths, post-mount 180mm brakes, etc.)
- All sizes fit a water bottle in front triangle, even with a reservoir shock
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Frame & shock: 5.45lb (2470g), size Medium
- Protectors, chainguide, & axle: 0.57lb (260g)
- Altitude Carbon 90 & Carbon 70 complete: 28.4lb (12.88kg), size Medium
Naming: In the interest of describing our lineup more clearly, we’ve updated our naming conventions. What used to be called Altitude 790 MSL is now Altitude Carbon 90, and what used to be called Altitude 750 is now Altitude Alloy 50. The Altitude still uses high-quality Smoothwall carbon and FORM alloy frames, and higher spec-numbers still indicate higher end specs.
Four generations of freeride: the 2017 Rocky Mountain team
We're excited to announce that Wade Simmons, Thomas Vanderham, and Geoff Gulevich have all renewed ties with Rocky Mountain for 2017. They join the returning Carson Storch to round out our freeride program. The team will ride the Slayer, Maiden, and Altitude—and Carson will get a custom slopestyle bike cooked up in our North Vancouver prototype shop.
Wade Simmons, the Godfather of freeride, said “I’ve been with Rocky Mountain over 20 years now, and I’m stoked to be continuing on the program. We’ve got some fun adventures planned and I’m looking forward to sending it into the coming years. I need to show these young punks a thing or two!”
Thomas Vanderham continues to push the boundaries of big mountain riding, with appearances at select FEST events and in several film projects on the horizon. His precision and focus have also made him invaluable to the Rocky Mountain engineering team, and he works closely with them to develop and refine our bikes.
Geoff Gulevich maintains his globetrotting ways, with plans to log a ton of airmiles in 2017—both on and off the bike. His “Gullyver’s Travels” series will take him off the beaten path, and hopefully not feature too much male nudity.
Returning this year is Carson Storch. The young American athlete had a breakout year in 2016, with a podium spot and best trick at Rampage, and we’re fired up to see what he has in store in 2017.
After a long and storied career at Rocky Mountain, Brett Tippie is moving on in 2017. The Director of Good Times has been an iconic member of our family, and his signature laugh and unparalleled stoke will be sorely missed. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours Tippie, and we’ll see you (or at least hear you) out on the trails!
Rocky Mountain helped usher in the birth of freeride, and we’re proud to have every generation of freeride represented on our team. They continue to push the sport and inspire people to get out on their bikes—we couldn’t ask for better ambassadors for our brand.
Love the Ride,
—Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Photos by Margus Riga, Paris Gore, and Ale Di Lullo.
Carson Storch Podiums at Rampage
Congratulations to Rocky Mountain's Carson Storch! The Bend, Oregon freerider took home 3rd Place at the legendary Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, Utah. He also claimed the Best Trick award for his massive mid-course 360 drop.
Return to Raw
This year's Red Bull Rampage saw a return to the raw, natural landscape that it was known for in the early days. With the blank canvas of a new venue, Carson teamed up with three other riders to build a massive feature with terrifying exposure—unlocking a line that event organizers had previously called impassable.
From there, Carson and his dig crew of Dustin Gilding and Calvin Huth split off from the other riders and chiseled out a landing for a huge mid-course drop, and dialled in several more significant features on the way to the bottom of the course.
"My line here at Rampage has a bit of everything. Steeps and exposure up top, big jumps and high speed lower down... a load of stuff I want to ride, so I'm happy with it." — Carson Storch
We wanted to do something special with Carson's bike for Rampage, so we worked with Painthouse Customs to create this 'Americamo' painted carbon Maiden. The design is inspired by the "dazzle camouflage" used on WWI naval ships.
He runs his Maiden in the slackest Ride-4 position, and with the Equalized geometry set up to use 26" wheels.
After eight days of building, it was time to put tires into dirt. With a steep, technical top section, tons of style, massive tricks, and a strong finish, Carson had all the elements of a great Rampage run. He would end the day in 3rd place, behind Antoine Bizet (2nd) and Brandon Semenuk (1st).
The judges were also vehement that he was the clear choice for Best Trick with his massive mid-course 360 drop. HUGE.
"Can't believe I ended up on the podium with third place, and took best trick. Such a crazy day! Thanks so much to my diggers, friends, family, and sponsors. I was riding for you today Kelly [McGarry]!" — Carson Storch
Congratulations to everyone who rolled through the Rampage start-gate this year. Healing vibes to the guys that got injured out there, hope to see you back soon! So many heavy moves went down, and the sport progressed by leaps and bounds yet again.
The late, great Kelly McGarry was a mentor and friend to Carson, and he'd have been so proud of his ride. A result like this has been a long time in the making for Carson, and we're beyond fired up for him. Already can't wait till next year!
Video: Carson Storch in Barcelona
"This trip to Barcelona was all about the experience. New year, new bike, and a new destination. It was amazing to get the opportunity to go be engulfed in such a crazy scene, and I can't thank all of the locals enough for having us. Pure fun! The Spanish lifestyle is legit. Special thanks to Andreu, Hector, La Poma staff, and the Llorett locals!" — Carson Storch
Welcome to the Team Carson Storch
We are proud to sign Carson Storch to our freeride program. The two-year deal will see Carson compete at a full schedule of slopestyle and freeride events across the globe. He will also be involved in several high profile film projects.
Carson is unique because he rides at such a high level in both slopestyle and big mountain—and he tears it up on trail bikes too. He’ll be a great ambassador for our brand.
"Rocky Mountain has always represented freeride, and is a company that I am proud to ride for," said Carson. "The bikes are awesome, the team is awesome, and they have been very welcoming. I'm happy to start a new chapter in my career with them."
Carson had the opportunity to work with our engineering team to build a custom slopestyle bike in our North Vancouver prototype lab. He will ride a carbon Maiden for the Red Bull Rampage and other big mountain events, as well as a carbon Altitude for trail riding.
We have a deep history in freeride, sponsoring the first freeride team back in 1995. Carson joins Rocky Mountain alumni Wade Simmons, Thomas Vanderham, Geoff Gulevich, and Brett Tippie.
Cheers bud, welcome to the team!