The atmosphere was off the scale on Friday night as 3,000 fans packed Vienna’s Arena to watch 21 of the world’s best freerunners quite literally climb the walls in a breathtaking show of daredevil gravity-defiance and pure acrobatic skill.
Red Bull Art of Motion Ultimate Freerunning Contest Draws Crowd of 3,000 to Arena in Vienna
With the huge crowd pushing the best on the planet right to the limit, athletes from across the world flipped, tricked and spun their way over, under and across the obstacles scattered across the urban playground. In the end it was Germany’s Jason Paul who impressed the judges the most to claim victory, with Lukas Steiner the highest-placed Austrian in fourth. Among the ladies, US stunt girl Luci Romberg took away the trophy. Pamela Obiniana from Austria combined pure courage with acrobatic elegance to hold her own with the world elite.
Hollywood-style action. The moves showcased by the 21 top athletes in the Arena on Friday certainly weren’t for those of a nervous disposition! Indeed, with the best freerunners pushing the laws of gravity to the absolute extreme, some of the highest heart-rates were to be found among the crowd as the fans rose to their feet again and again to salute the daredevils. The Austrian capital offered the perfect playground for the top athletes to demonstrate courage and skills more often seen on the sets of big-budget movies: backflips, frontflips, double-flips and devil drops were the order of the day in the arena as the athletes took to the sky before returning to earth to flip and trick their way over walls, fences, railings and cars.
One champion and twenty more winners. The event began by the 21 freerunners taking each other on in a Qualifying Session, with each athlete getting 90 seconds to showcase his skills. The top eight from the Qualifying Session then qualified for the Final and received the chance to impress the members of a star-studded panel comprising Gaetan Bouillet (BEL), Victor "Showtime" Lopez (USA), local hero Patrick Morawetz (AUT) and Paul "EZ" Corkery (UK), who had the unenviable task of judging the moves according to creativity, difficulty, style and safety. When all was said and done it was Jason Paul from Germany who received the gleaming winner’s cup, followed by Yoann Leroux (FRA) in second place and Pavel Petkuns (LIT) in third, with the Latvian also receiving the Best Trick Award. Among the international elite were also four Austrian athletes looking to defend their nation’s honour in the heart of the capital city. In the end it was Lukas Steiner from Innsbruck who kept the Austrian flag flying the longest and highest by finishing fourth with a strong performance. Among the ladies, local girl Pamela Obiniana left the fans in no doubt whatsoever that free running is no longer just for the guys by flipping and tricking her way through the Arena together with Hollywood stuntwoman Luci Romberg (US). Despite the competition format, the event was characterised by a friendly atmosphere between the athletes, with each and every participant in agreement that simply the chance to participate in Red Bull Art of Motion made the journey to Vienna well worthwhile.
Flipping out. At the end of a spectacular evening, both fans and athletes alike struck the same tone: “The atmosphere was just incredible. The fans really fired us up and pushed each and every one of us to show some really world-class freerunning. It is a real honour and pleasure for me to win in front of this crazy crowd,” commented an emotional Jason Paul. Luci Romberg agreed: “This was one of the best events ever! It was great fun being out there and mixing it with the guys.”
Members of the public keen to experience the sport at first hand were given the opportunity to learn the basics of freerunning ahead of the event thanks to a workshop organised by Vienna freerunning collective Ape Connection, with the company Five Ten® providing the perfect equipment in the form of special freerunning shoes.
Red Bull Art of Motion / Results Final
1. Jason Paul (GER)
2. Yoann Leroux (FRA)
3. Pavel Petkuns (LIT)
4. Lukas Steiner (AUT)
5. Scott Jackson (UK)
6. Cato Aspmo (SWE)
7. Erick Sanchez (MEX)
8. Luci Romberg (USA)