Best of action 2016

Action photography - The best shots of 2016 

Words : Robert Sperl
Photo above : Bartek Wolinski

The Red Bulletin presents the photographs that took our breath away in 2016
Les Deux Alpes, France

“In the summer of 2015, I spent a few days with friends at a bike park in France,” says Wolinski. “The conditions were great; it was dry and there was lots of dirt and loose gravel. But I actually got this shot of Nick Pescetto on a day the bike park was closed for maintenance work. We’d taken a shortcut down into the valley and suddenly found ourselves on a ski-slope building site. There was a road made for trucks that was about 30cm deep in dirt! It was like coming downhill in powdery snow. You should have seen me afterwards.” 

Bartek Wolinski

Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa

“I’d been planning this expedition with Canadian Will Gadd for years: a climbing tour of the highest mountain in Africa, where the ice on the glacier is disappearing faster than almost anywhere else in the world, due to global warming,” says Pondella. “This photo was taken at Kibo’s crater, near the summit. At around 5,800m above sea level, the climbing was pretty tough on Will, both technically and physically. The razor-sharp shards may have been incredibly beautiful, but they were also scary, because Will just didn’t know how stable the ice was. The ice debris at the base of the formations was the first sign that 
they were close to collapse. All in all, it meant our trip was important; slowly but surely, the glacier is disappearing. By 2020, there will probably be none of the ice left at all.”

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Aquaventure Waterpark, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

“Ask any skater who’s ever seen the Aquaconda waterslide in Dubai and they’ll probably all say the same idea popped into their head: ‘Just let me turn off the water and hurtle down this snaking labyrinth on my board to my heart’s content,’” says Eigner. “Sadly, the waterpark is very popular and therefore it’s always in use. But last January the slides went dry for three days for maintenance work, and this gave skaters Alex SorgenteMilton Martinez and Jan Hoffmann a chance to go wild. This was a one-off opportunity for us photographers to take skateboarding pictures the likes of which had never been seen before.”

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swing time

The Red Bull Skydive Team took playing on the swings to a new level in the skies over Austria. Armed with a seat attached to a 125m-long rope – the ‘Mega Swing’ – Marco Fürst and his three teammates ascended in two hot air balloons for a four-second freefall, followed by half a pendulum swing and a leap from 1,800m. “It’s everyone’s dream,” said Georg Lettner, one of the skydivers. “To swing higher and higher, and finally jump off and fly.”

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Home boy
Red Bull BC One Cypher, Cape Town, South Africa

“I took this photo the same day I moved into my first home,” says Bradley. “Up to that point, BC One Cyphers in South Africa had always been fairly informal affairs, so I was sure I’d be able to move house and do the photoshoot. But I was flabbergasted when I got to the Cape Town Stadium. There wasa great atmosphere, the place was packed and you could barely move! Somehow, I managed to catch B-Boy Toufeeq at the exact moment he happened to look at me. I captured his total commitment.”



Bundoran, County Donegal, Ireland

Cian Logue is one of the best surfers in Ireland, and also one of its top backhand tube-riders,” says Mitchinson. “I really like the special feel you get in this picture. It was a dark and overcast day, but just as I took the picture, a ray of light broke through a gap in the clouds. The chance of getting the right light must have been one in a million. The water was reflecting the light quite a lot, and the sun wasn’t in a good position. The thing that makes this photo such a triumph from my point of view is that Cian had been struck in the face by a wave just a moment earlier, and his hair was hanging down over his forehead as he went barrelling through. So the shot has everything: his skill, courage and determination, plus the beauty of the wave itself, and all in this unique light.”

Great Arch of Getu, Guizhou Province, China
Jimmy Chin


“The Great Arch of Getu is a crazy quirk of nature: a tunnel through a limestone massif made of sharp-edged rock, the roof of which is 200m high,” says Chin. “The limestone is tempting for climbers, with all its holes, ridges and ledges, but only a handful have managed to bend the arch to their will so far. Every centimetre is a conquest when you’re hanging upside down from the arch. There’s no time to celebrate, either, because your concentration might lapse and you need it for your next move. The first person to conquer the arch was the Spaniard Dani Andrada. Here, I’m photographing the Brazilian Felipe Camargo working on a new route. I was also hanging on a rope between heaven and earth at the time.”

riders on the storm
Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston, Florida

Skydiving photos are always a challenge, but when an athlete like Sean MacCormac says that this time he wants you to follow him through thunder and lightning, you think, ‘Today, things are gonna get really exciting’. As a photographer, I’ve taken thousands of shots of jumps, but never before had I been asked to keep an eye on a skydiver and a storm at the same time. Sky-surfers normally call it a day when those dark clouds come rolling in. There’s only one guy crazy enough to jump out of a plane in weather like that, and that’s Sean MacCormac. As Sean says, and he’s right, ‘The chances of being struck by lightning are much smaller than our fear of it.’” 

test of courage
Kleszczów, Poland

“The Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Kleszczów is one of my favourite events. I’ve taken a lot of cool photos at it, and this year was no different. The organiser of the event is my friend Łukasz Nazdraczew, and he’d secured me a good place to stand. At one point, a throng of riders was getting closer to me, and I thought, ‘Something’s gonna happen now.’ I wasn’t wrong – suddenly things got hairy. Standing there in the middle of the track, I had a choice: I’d either get a good shot or get run over. I felt like a war correspondent reporting from the battlefield. I don’t remember exactly when I took the photo, but I happened to get this shot of Marcin Kurowski, the Polish motocrosser. To be honest, I’d just wanted to stay alive.”



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12 2016 The Red Bulletin

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