The passion for sport and medals is alive in London for the upcoming Olympic Games, but just days ago spectators and athletes gathered in downtown Los Angeles to witness an unconventional competition.
Action sports’ largest and most sought after event, the X Games, was held at the Staples Center. The annual event is home to sports such as BMX bike riding, skateboarding, motocross and RallyCross car racing.
Similar to the Olympics, every time the event is held records are shattered and athletes are crowned with bronze, silver and gold medals. This year was no exception, however, it was a year of repeat victories for several athletes.
Jamie Bestwick won his sixth consecutive BMX Vert title. Skateboarders Andy Macdonald and Tony Hawk, competing in the now discontinued event of Vert Doubles, are the only other athletes who have consecutively won six X Games gold medals.
Bestwick had not competed in any outside events this year, but it was almost impossible to tell. His runs were fluid and littered with tricks that were clearly untouchable for any of his competitors. For the sixth year in a row, BMX Vert was a competition for silver.
The only other competitor to completely dominate BMX Vert prior to Bestwick, is former BMX rider and current RallyCross driver Dave Mirra who won numerous Vert and BMX Park titles since the X Games debuted.
The BMX Street competition ended similar to the Vert competition, as Garrett Reynolds stayed atop the podium with his fifth consecutive gold medal.
BMX Street is one the newest events for BMX at the X Games. It started in 2008, and it features young, up-and-coming athletes compared to the older veteran class of riders in BMX Vert. The street course, used by both BMX and skateboarding, was designed to look like a high school campus, even a flagpole, lockers and a basketball hoop were strategically placed in the venue.
Since the debut of BMX Street in 2008, the only rider to capture gold has been Garrett Reynolds. In prior years, he has completely dominated the discipline. This year he barely won, squeaking out a close two point victory over 18-year-old Chad Kerley.
Going into the competition, many thought Kerley would dethrone Reynolds since Kerley was fresh off a gold medal victory at the Asian X Games. Although, it was Reynolds’s slight maturity and consistency that once again lead him to the top podium spot.
In skateboard Big Air, an alarming amount of young athletes made history by entering the breath-taking event.
Hailing from Mesa,Ariz., Jagger Eaton, 11, and fellow skater Trey Wood, 11, fromQueen Creek, Ariz., were the youngest athletes to compete in the X Games this year.
Skateboard Big Air has been an event dominated by veteran vert skaters since 2004, but Eaton and Wood proved a younger generation is on the path to changing that idea. Although, the change didn’t happen this year as both Eaton and Wood were unable to qualify for the final round.
Bob Burnquist, 35, won his fourth gold medal in Big Air, unseating the originator of the competition, Danny Way, who has three gold medals in the event and is now retired.
Reach the reporter at Michael.G.Hines@asu.edu