2021 Monster Energy Supercross Preview: How motivated Is Cooper Webb?

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The start of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Season is less than a week away, and it is time to start asking questions.

There are many about the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross season.

Can the series seamlessly pick up where they left off in the midst of an ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

Having finally won his first, will Eli Tomac win another Supercross championship?

Can Marvin Musquin and Joey Savatgy restart in 2021 after losing 2020 to injury?

But the biggest question of all might be: Is Cooper Webb more dangerous as a rider who wants to regain the No. 1 plate than he was as the defending 2019 champion?

SUPERCROSS ON TV: Full NBC Sports schedule for 2021

“I’ve spoken to Cooper a couple of times in the offseason and you can’t even get into a conversation with the guy without him expressing his frustration and pretty much his disgust at losing that No. 1 plate,” racing analyst Daniel Blair said in an NBC Sports preview of the season (video above).

Webb’s 2020 season was forestalled by illness and injury. After starting the first few rounds with health concerns, he clawed back into contention as the series headed to Arlington for Round 8. Webb earned his first victory of the season at San Diego in Round 6. He finished second in Rounds 5 and 7 to trail the leader by just 11 points.

But his season almost ended there.

Riding a dragon’s back in the closing laps of the second A-Main of the Triple Crown Race, Webb was launched from his bike and thrown off course. He landed hard on his back and needed to be helped off the track by medical staff.

“That crash was probably the worst crash I’ve ever had,” Webb said in the Supercross preview. “I couldn’t feel my legs for a little bit, so that’s always a little scary.”

Soon after the crash, it was unknown if Webb would race again in 2020. He not only raced but stood gingerly on the podium the following week in Atlanta with a third-place finish.

“I thought it was over,” Blair said. “But a week goes by and he shows up. We go to Atlanta, and Cooper Webb pulls a Cooper Webb.”

He finished third again one week later on a physically demanding outdoor course in the frontstretch infield of the Daytona International Speedway.

The COVID break from early March until late May allowed Webb to heal completely. When the series returned to complete its season with seven races in Salt Lake City starting on May 31, he finished second. In Salt Lake City, Webb recorded three victories and three second-place finishes.

“Of all the guys I’ve raced as a former Monster Energy Supercross racer, Cooper Webb was one of the most intense and one of the most scary guys to race against,” said Josh Mosiman, associate editor of Motocross Action Magazine. “You can see by looking at his eyes that you don’t want to mess with this guy.”

Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.