Interview with Freerider, Kurt Sorge over on Pinkbike
Kurt Sorge is a name most of us will know – from his part in ‘Where the Trail Ends,’ segments in ‘New World Disorder,’ to his win at the 2012, Red Bull Rampage, Sorge is best known for his love of big mountain riding and pushing the limits of the sport with a bunch of his friends. He’s been riding since he was 13 but it wasn’t until 2008 and his second place finish at Rampage that he made a name for himself on the freeride scene. Riding for Giant since he was 18, Kurt has played a big part in making the 2014 ‘Fest Series’ happen and together with his friends they have big plans for the future of freeride.
Last year you broke your leg and were not able to defend your Rampage title. Lots of folks call that the curse of Rampage, but you’ve recently been “cursed” again. Tell us what happened?
Ya after a bad injury last year leaving me off the bike for 8 months or so and missing Rampage. I worked hard all off season to get back to 100% and even stronger than before. This season turned out to be a great one for me. Lots of awesome trips, great projects, lots of fun and feeling really good on the bike again. But almost two weeks ago now, I was just having a cruisey day up at Silverstar and on the last run and jump of the day I no foot canned it and my pedals spun and I got my right foot back on the pedal but my left foot slipped a pedal. My foot jammed into the ground and at the same time my pedal rode over the back of my leg and with just the perfect storm, snapped my fibula. Didn’t even crash… rode away and tried to shake it off but when I looked down at my leg it was clear it was broken.
When dealing with injury what keeps you motivated?
I think the biggest motivation is to just get back on my bike so I can ride with my buddies and have fun. I would still be riding just as hard if it wasn’t my job, I love it. I also want to take part in awesome projects and events where mountain bike history is being made plus ride with the worlds best riders that happen to be some of my best friends. Also watching all the amazing action sports athletes across the world is a huge inspiration and motivation to get back to having as much fun as you can while you’re on this planet. As hard as injuries can be, it could always be worse and there’s more then enough in this world to stay motivated for.
Eating dirt is just part of the adventure
The FEST series has come about from riders like yourself that are wanting a different style of ‘competition’. What does FEST mean to you, what’s the ethos behind the whole thing?
Ya, the Fest came about from a group of riders that want to push the sport, but on real mountain bikes and there are no events for us to showcase this. Rampage is great of course but other than that the only other course that was made for a real mountain bike would have been the Chatel Mountain Style, and it was a crying shame that it went away. As freeriders and being in the sport as long as we have been, we’ve been asking for more events like this and nothing has happened. The courses have become smaller and more guys riding them on hardtails. Pretty much the exact opposite of what we’re asking for and what I grew up riding and fell in love with biking for. I like BMXing, dirtjumping and slopestyle but when it comes down to representing our sport of Freeriding I picture something different to what’s being portrayed right now.
The Fest is now something for all the freeriders that never had an event to go to to show off their riding. It’s really hard for a freerider in the scene these days because unless you have contest results it’s pretty hard to get noticed and we want to host events where they can come and showcase their riding and also promote the style of riding we grew up with and push the sport in the direction we want. Meanwhile influence the younger generations with a style of riding that arguably has been fading away. Not because the riders are gone but because there’s been less of stage to showcase that kind of riding. The movement to dirt jumping wasn’t bad for the sport, it was great. It really progressed a lot of the tricks but it needs to get back to some more of its roots. We need to go bigger and get more creative with what we build. That’s what mountain biking is all about – being creative on your bike.
Showing some Sorge style
What was your vision when it came to building for FEST and what can we expect for 2015?
My vision when it came to building for my Fest course was to build jumps as big as I could with keeping tall steep take offs. I didn’t have a ton of time and no budget at all. Retallack stepped up huge on their part and I really couldn’t have done it without them. Building the course we ran into a hiccup… a spring had sprung through the course and it quadrupled the work load to complete the jumps to make them ridable so instead of spending more time testing the jumps and building more it ended up being spent there and then it rained for a week straight during the event – but that’s what mountain biking is, it’s an adventure. The course was big and it worked great for the one day we had a chance to ride it, but it was a huge eye opener to how big we can actually go and how comfortable you can be flying through the air on a mountain bike at those distances. So in one year we had four events that all had new, ground breaking riding and that’s just the beginning. Can’t wait for 2015!
Jumps at Fest
What does the future hold for big mountain riding in terms bike technology and pushing limits further, can we expect bigger or will things plateau for a while?
Like I had just mentioned, just this year I was able to ride courses I have been dreaming about for years! That’s with no budget, just passion. It’s just going to get better as the years go on and I think it will be a breath of fresh air for the mountain bike community and it will show Freeride is not dead.
What would you say has been the highlight of your year?
I actually had a great season. It’s hard to pick the highlight… I had tons of fun building, riding, shooting and hanging with great people all season. Myself and Mitch Cheek at Solos Productions worked on my web series this spring and both of those trips and edits were highlights for me. Also I had the most amazing time at all the Fest events but I would probably have to say the highlight of the year for me was to finally be able to ride the jumps I had built at Retallack. Unfortunately because of the weather delay some of the guys couldn’t stick around, but to session those jumps with all those bad ass dudes was amazing. But to narrow it down even more… The second jump in the line was the Highlight for me, funnest jump I have ever ridden.
You must do quite a bit of training to keep on top of old injures, prep for events and stay fit. What goes on behind the scenes – do you have a training program or is it all about staying active and having a good time?
Definitely staying active and having fun is great for the body and mind but these days fitness is a large part of most action sports. Plus with injuries adding up you have to take care of those more than before. For myself, I have started training a lot more in the off season or whenever I am back home and have time. I train with Ed Natyshak, and his program is called SPT (Sasquatch Performance Training.) It’s a program designed for people who live and play in the mountains. It’s a high pace workout that doesn’t stop till your done. It’s not just a body workout but also for the mind. He pushes you further and harder than you would ever push yourself and teaches you to never give up. And it’s really a perfect workout for me because I hate going to the gym but there you’re in and out and you’re training with bad ass dudes and it’s fun to get strong. When I’m hiking my bike up a big ass line or even to the top of Rampage and I feel like stopping or taking a break I hear his voice (motivational yelling haha) in my mind and it gets me to the top of where I need to be and feeling that much stronger. SPT…. Be The Myth!
Staying active and having fun
What do you think we can expect from this years Rampage given the new site, what does it take to put down a winning run?
It’s hard to anticipate what is exactly going to happen this year. I think the most exciting part will be everyone finding brand new lines and then figuring them out. There will be a lot of new things going on and it’s always really exciting. Last year was my first time as a spectator and it was crazy to see all the working ants across the mountain working all day and even into the night to prepare for what the riders have to ride. Massive guinea pigs going down everywhere you look and you just pray that everyone stomps it. Pretty stressful event from the side lines actually haha. You just want to see everyone succeed what they set out to accomplish.
What does it take to win…Well first off you have to pick a line that’s capable of winning. But I think the most important would be going big and making it flow. All about making it look goood.
Sorge after his 2012 Rampage Win – Credit mclaws
Do you think events like FEST series will become mainstream and commercially viable, I mean you guys have had to do it with no budget and I know it’s not all about the money – you’ve seen the gap and you’ve filled it, but compare it to other popular freeride and slopestyle events, do you want it to go down that road or is it something you’re keen to stay away from?
It’s a tough one because the Fest Series is so new. I think we have a great format but there is room to grow for sure. And you’re right, it’s not all about the money. We just want to have the support to make our visions come to life. A huge thing for us is venue. A parking lot in a city is not going to cut it for a Fest event. We want to be in the mountains. Also a big part of it is the riding. As much as we want to put on a show, we are also trying to push ourselves on these courses as much as we can and I think the production side of it is where were really going to excel. We want to show the world what we’re up to and to our very best ability. To mix that up with talented film and photography work is just amazing.
As long as we have courses that are up to the Fest Series standard, the possibilities are endless!
Credit: Margus Riga
Many of the events are invite only, do you think this stops up and coming riders from progressing or can they get involved and noticed in other ways?
These events are invite only and the main reason is budget. But because we have control of who we invite it can be any young rider that has been earning it and been putting out content that is catching our eye and we want there. A big part of the Fest Series is the vibe and the people who are there, we don’t need any buzz killers there. And at every stop so far we have had local inspiring riders join us to ride and hang out at the event. So we are trying to help guide the next generation of freeriders.
Credit: Devon Fraser
What have you got planned for 2015?
For next season I am really excited to attend all of the Fest Series events, plus putting on my own again. I plan on making it to Rampage next year! Wanting that more then ever now… And for filming projects there is lots in the works. I’d like to continue my web series and work on some movies but and you’ll just have to wait and see for those!
I’d like to thank everyone who supported me this year and throughout my life and career. I wish I could have finished the season off with another Rampage under my belt, but I’ll be back – best of luck to everyone down there! Thanks to my Mom and Dad, brothers, Chiara, friends and family. Everyone who helped make Hoff Fest a reality!
Retallack Lodge – Solos Productions – Freeride Entertainment – Joy Ride Bike Parks – Rick Schnieder – Mike – Alex Volokov – Kris McMecan – Garett Buehler – All the Riders – Margus Riga – Nelson Brewery Company
And huge thanks to my sponsors, none of this would be possible without them!