The Suzuki Nine Knights MTB is a week-long free ride expression session taking place each year. A selection of the world’s best freeride mountain bikers pair up with talented photographers, videographers, and GoPro’s crack team to capture mindblowing images. Bike Hub got the invite to witness the action go down.
The past two year’s, Nine Knights MTB has been hosted by the picturesque Reschenpass region in the small ski town of St Valentin only a few kilometers from the Austrian border. The area has all the charm of the traditional Alpine countryside with a fusion of Austrian and Italian cultures and some delightful beers.
With all the ski infrastructure in place, Reschenpass has seen the benefit of promoting mountain biking as tourist pull in the summer and is actively hosting events like Nine Knights and enduro races to promote this ambition.
The Nine Knights vibe is rider orientated, which means they determine the schedule. Although there is a contest at the end of the week, it is as much about giving the public a show as it is about winning. The results were some world first technical tricks, freedom to ride with style rather point scoring tricks, as well as some insane big air boosts.
For 2017, the Nine Knights course received a big upgrade. Course builders and Nine Knights riders, Clemens Kaudela and Sam Reynolds spent weeks on top of the mountain building a new wooden roll-in that drops two trick jumps as well as big dirt jump line beyond the avalanche barrier that serves as the landing on the wooden jumps. Take a look at the course preview video for a better understanding of the layout.
The course builders, like everyone else, have no say when it comes to the weather and days before the event the clouds dumped some fresh snow on the course. Although a stunning sight across the valley, the slow melting of snow meant that the dirt never truly dried out properly during the event. Wet dirt, means slow tyres and not enough speed to probably hit the new features. This setback did not hold the rider's back as they set to work destroying the big wooden jumps.
The Nine Knights crew’s biggest focus is creating amazing visuals of the riders pushing the limits with the magnificent Alpine scenery serving as an epic backdrop. So let’s take a look at what they captured during the week:
Damp conditions meant that the course needed work into the first day of riding.
Patrick Schweika wasted no time warming up, boosting above the snow-capped peaks.
Bienvenudo Aguado was a standout rider on the trick set jumps.
Even while surrounded by the mammoth Italian Alps, the Nine Knights jumps can make you feel small.
Adolf Silva's fall on Day 2 was an early reminder about the consequence the riders face when things go wrong. Thankfully, he walked away from this one unharmed.
Emil Johansson took an instant liking to the trick jumps where he'd land a bag of world firsts later in the week.
The tools of the trade.
Diego Caverzasi came prepared with a full bag of tricks.
The hum of drones was ever present at Nine Knights. Racing drones manage to speed in and get much closer than commercial drones.
Running from the top of the course above the jumps is the flow line. A favourite for a chilled warm up run and a good ol' fashioned dirt train.
Sunset or sunrise, Olly Wilkins had this transfer waxed.
Sam Reynolds oozying style with Clemens Kaudela and Nico Vink in hot pursuit.
An airbag was hauled up the mountain and laid out on the trick jump landing. The technical riders like Nicholi Rogatkin and Emil Johansson quickly got to work dialing in their more difficult tricks.
Nicholi Rogatkin landed the first Twister on a downhill bike. That's an off-axis 1080 degree spin. What the video below.
Sam Reynolds and Adolf Silva opened up the new backline on Day 4 after it had had time to dry out a bit. The wet dirt meant that it was running a little bit slowly, making it super sketchy.
Sam and Adolf were also the leading riders on the top Big Bertha jump. Adolf sending this double backflip. Check out the video of his crash on the same jump below.
The weather is temperamental in the Alps and after one after shower, a magnificent rainbow stretched across the valley. Nico Scholze summoning his inner leprechaun and jumping for a pot of gold.
The quarter pipe generated some serious boost. Those riders brave enough saw some massive air and their big's some huge bottom outs.
As the Pure Darkness crew say, going big will never die. Boosting high off the quarter pipe is one of the highlights of Nine Knights. It seriously impressive to see these guys shoot for the moon as well as the sound of their bikes straining on landing.
The Nine Knights rush hour jam down the trails to the hotel at the base of the mountain. The steep rocky and rooty Haideralm Trails providing sufficient entertainment for even these most gnarly riders.
Shoe! Shoe! Shoe! Shoe! A Night Knights tradition.
Videos from 2018 Suzuki Nine Knights
Take a look at all the action from the Nine Knights contest day:
Nicholi Rogatkin stomped a Twister on his downhill bike, a world first:
Adolf Silva sent a massive double backflip of the Big Bertha jump. Unfortunately, he missed the berm and ended up trying to hold it down the bike down the mountain:
The competition for the highest air was fierce. Clemens Kaudela and Sam Reynolds took the honours:
Emil Johannson can fit more bar spins than anyone else into his backflips:
Racing drones brought a whole new persepctive to the Nine Knights. Check out the mindblowing footage from these agile drones: