X Games 16

Published on August th, 2010
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These days there is rarely a dull moment in my life, even while recovering from a near life ending injury. While practicing in Texas recently I managed to land myself short of the “sweet spot” and in the ICU. Injuries sustained included a broken shoulder, a fractured skull and a rather large gash to the back of my head. All things considered my time in the hospital wasn’t all that unpleasant but after sitting in bed for ten days, I was ready to get out and back on my feet. Little did I know the excitement I was in for, before I would ever even make it back home.

Due to said injuries I was unable to take an airplane ride back to California so the train was the next most cost effective option. Two days after leaving the hospital I began my choo choo ride across three states that ultimately wound up taking 48 hours. I’d recommend traveling by train if you’ve got the time and care to see some of the remaining untouched areas of our country.

I made it back to California Wednesday of that week just in time to connect with a few of my Bomb Squad teammates and hit the beach for some down time before heading to X Games. Watching the X Games live is another one of those experiences I never thought I’d get and to this point, I’ve seldom even caught them on TV as basic cable in my homeland does NOT include ESPN. Thanks to our wonderful management and the recent success of brothers Caleb and Colten we were able to secure a few industry guest passes for the entire weekend. Not only would I get to experience X, I would get to do so essentially as a VIP.

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We made it to the Los Angeles Coliseum just in time to watch the final qualifying FMX heat and then the finals for men’s and women’s Super X as well as the ever popular freestyle event. The stadium was jam packed with a large mega ramp, butting the FMX course up against it with an enormous wall ride. The supercross track, featuring two of the craziest camelback jumps I’ve ever seen, was interwoven between the two and a portion of it ran outside the stadium.

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The men’s Super X final was the first event of the night and be it many of the major supercross A-listers were absent (Stewart, Reed, Dungey, Villapoto, Windam) I had a difficult time keeping track of position changes throughout the race. Josh Grant would take gold on the day with Justin Brayton claiming silver and Josh Hansen bringing home the bronze. It was truly insane watching those guys loft themselves into the air over the unusually steep camelback jumps and equally impressive watching several riders quadruple through the rhythm section.

The women would take to the track next and it was the Ashley Fiolek show almost from the drop of the gate. I give mad props to women motocrossers. The women’s class is anything but glamorous as they receive little to no TV time, work just as hard as the boys with just a fraction of the media attention. Not to mention they raced on the same course, camelbacks and all, as the men. Panic rev would be the word of choice to describe the majority of the women’s Super X final but for a bunch of gals that get NO time on a supercross track (the AMA supercross series does not include women) these gals did well. After passing for the lead on lap one Fiolek checked out and rode flawlessly to the finish. Jessica Patterson rode a great race until casing the second camelback and taking herself out. Tarah Gieger would move into silver medal position with Sara Price taking the bronze.

Next up was the always exciting freestyle final pitting Matt Rebeaud, Levi Sherwood, and Nate Adams against the returning Travis Pastrana. Travis has been absent from the Freestyle Moto X event the last two years focusing on Best Trick and Rally Racing. All eyes were on him as he was expected to use his double back flip if necessary to claim a 7th freestyle gold.

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Each rider would be allowed three runs with the top two scores combining for the riders overall points. Rebeaud, fresh off a wrist injury, would put in two solid runs only to come up short on a back flip in the third and hit the eject button. Adams put in three solid runs pulling his signature, flat 360 and several other inverted combinations. Levi Sherwood, the young Australia making his X games debut would put together the most technical and most extended tricks of the night but ultimately it was Pastrana who’s outrageous use of the entire course would ultimately claim the gold. Pastrana came out solid in his first two runs back flipping off berms and transfer hips that were never meant as takeoff ramps. Securing the gold medal with just his first two runs and without needing the double back flip, he took to the course to give fans a victory run. To everyone’s amazement he hit a couple ramps and then did the unthinkable and pulled a perfect double back flip riding away cleanly. For that reason Travis Pastrana is and always will be considered the greatest FMX rider on the planet. The selfless Pastrana thanked the fans and spent his entire glory moment on TV wishing his mother a happy birthday, congratulating Ashley Fiolek on a flawless race and praising fellow freestylers Robbie Maddison and Cameron Sinclair for their phenomenal performances.

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Thursday night would put me back at the Staples Center were I took full advantage of my credentials to settle into a spot five rows up from the dirt. Little did I know but a friend and competitor, Ronnie Faisst, was sitting a few chairs to my left. We chatted while watching the best whip contest between Todd Potter, Jarryd McNeil, Jeremy Stenberg, Beau Bamburg, Josh Grant and Josh Hansen.

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Best whip is a unique event in that it’s judged solely by the fans. A jam session format, riders make countless runs at the ramp while fans text in the first and last initials of the rider they think has the best whip. Unfortunately this creates somewhat of a popularity contest as typically the fan favorite receives the most votes. Everyone has their own opinion but I’ll give Potter the well deserved gold. It’s disgusting to watch him point his dirt bike 180 degrees away from the landing to then whip it back just in time to land. Beau Bamburg is another rider with an insane whip but his comes almost in two parts taking it nearly upside down. A late addition, Bamburg would finish in fourth. Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg would earn the bronze while newcomer Jerryd McNeil would take home silver.

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There’s always a great deal of hype surrounding Best Trick and this year was no exception. Three time champ Kyle Loza was expected to bring something new but pulled out hours before the competition. Jimmy Fitzpatrick had nailed the front flip and was rumored to have some sort of variation planned. Pastrana was to attempt his famed TP role from last year and Cameron Sinclair was poised for the biggest comeback of his life going for a double back flip nearly a year after the trick almost ended his life. Rookie X Gamer Rich Kearns would bring his ridiculous dead body flip as well as the Paris Hilton flip however it seems the trick has lost some of its luster in recent months as he’s made it a main staple at freestyle demos. Every bit as technical but not quite as exciting in the judges eyes apparently.

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Taka Higashino would earn bronze, his first X Games medal, for a double gab indy flip with Maddo taking the silver after cleanly riding away a vault to side saddle lander, his first medal as well. Probably the most inspiring moment of X Games was Cameron Sinclair taking the gold after rotating a perfect double back flip. The mere fact that he ever threw a leg of a motorcycle again after enduring what he did is a miracle in itself.

That’s it for my first X games experience and I only managed to hit five events. Hopefully I’ll be reporting to you from Aspen come January as the Moore’s seek to take Winter X by storm. See you then.
Seth Fargher

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