Photos by Tom Wallace
More highlights from the 11th and final X Games in Los Angeles August 1-4, 2013 launched with all eyes on Japanese motocross phenom, Taka Higashino in Moto X Freestyle. For a record 3rd time, Higashino’s unique approach included a Kiss of Death backflip and a Rock Solid backflip in a pair of runs that both earned 90.00. Despite also scoring a 90.00 in his second run, Adam Jones and his one of a kind trick, the Rigamortis, earned silver as Higashino’s first run decided the tie.
While Moto X Freestyle is often one of the most-watched events, this year, Moto Whip had a huge surprise as competitor Vickie Golden, the first woman to ever compete in this event, won the bronze. With Best Whip, judging is also done via fan votes via text and clearly, people were stoked to see Golden ride and whip just as hard as the guys. However it was Josh Hansen who earned a convincing 42 percent of the vote in the fan voted Best Whip competition for the gold.
In the America’s Navy Skateboard Big Air which moved across town to the Irwindale Event Center, Elliot Sloan claimed his first X Games gold. Despite strong tailwinds, Sloan was able to stay on his board when it counted with a 720 and one particularly large 540. Favorite Bob Burnquist battled through an injury sustained midway through the competition before taking home bronze. Thirteen-year-old Tom Schaar took silver.
In day 2 and 3, history was made at the Skateboard Vert finals as 40-year-old Bucky Lasek won gold beating out rival Pierre-Luc Gagnon who took silver. Lasek’s first of four runs held its ground as the field of skaters gave tried to top his score of 92.33. With signature tricks like a heelflip frontside twist, a boneless 540, Lasek swept the Summer X Games series with his fourth straight gold this year. Veteran Andy MacDonald, who has competed in every Vert event since it’s inception at the X Games, took bronze.
As the Street League finals got underway, Nyjah Huston showed his authority early, landing nearly every trick to earn gold. His winning runs included a Caballerial to noseblunt slide over the a-frame rail. Though main rival Paul Rodriguez skated the entire contest switch, his efforts we’re not enough to medal with Chris Cole taking silver and Luan Oliviera sneaking into third, landing a switch 360 flip on his final attempt. At the age of 18, this is Huston’s fourth X Games gold in Street.
Enthusiastic spectators also enjoyed an exciting new addition to the X Games, Gymkhana Grid. Taking place at the Irwindale Event Center, Gymkhana Grid is a driving technique turned competition in which drivers negotiate a specifically designed, gauntlet style course performing 180-degree turns, 360-degree spins, drifting and other advanced skills.
Gymkhana ambassador and favorite Ken Block was taken out in the first round, opening up the competition for Tanner Foust and ultimately taking the victory against Patrik Sandell. In best two out of three race format, Foust won the first two convincingly taking inaugural gold in the new event.
BMX Freestyle Street proved to be a clash between six-time winner Garrett Reynolds and underdog Chad Kerley. However, it was Kerley who ultimately took home gold by way of his consistency and combination tricks. Reynolds who took home silver, commented, “It’s an honor to be beat by that guy.”
Making its X Games return at the STAPLES Center, Moto X Racing competitors battled for gold for the first time since 2010. After two elimination rounds on the Supercross style course, Justin Brayton took gold in a race to remember. Patiently riding behind leader Josh Hill for most of the race, it was not until the last lap that Brayton gained control by closing out Hill with just a few turns left to bring home his first X Games gold.
On the women’s side, Meghan Rutledge, who held a strong lead for most of the race, botched a celebratory jump just before the finish line, allowing Vicki Golden to overtake her and claim gold.
Finally, Mike Schultz earned gold with an inspiring run along with five other athletes in the Adaptive race proving that heart is equally as important as talent at X Games.
Just east of downtown Los Angeles at the Irwindale Event Center, the day’s main attraction was the Ford RallyCross. While all eyes were on Travis Pastrana, who raced a NASCAR Nationwide event the day prior, it was not to be for the X Games legend as Finnish phenom Toomas Heikkinen proved why he is one of the most consistent racers on the circuit.
After a smooth start, favorites Ken Block and Liam Doran tangled on the second corner of the race, causing a lock up that Heikkinen was able to negotiate and take an early lead. Last nights silver medalist in Gymkhana, Tanner Foust and Norway’s Sverre Isachsen battled for second and third, but Heikkinen’s lead proved too much to overcome. Pastrana, who was displaced in the early lock up, could not recover and finished fourth.
The final events at Staples Center were men’s and women’s Enduro X. In the men’s competition, Taddy Blazusiak was able to take the crucial hole shot. Battling through the course, the 30-year-old racer from Poland held onto his lead as Mike Brown and Cody Webb traded places throughout, eventually finishing second and third. Coming off a silver medal in Munich, it was Barcelona native Laia Sanz who emerged through the punishing course and gained control over rival Maria Forsberg for the gold in the women’s division.
The four-day crowd total of 92,000 fans enjoyed the last X Games in Los Angeles before it moves onto its new home next summer in Austin, TX. Sponsors including Ford, America’s Navy, GoPro, SonyX, Red Bull, and others provided ongoing entertainment, free swag, contests, prizes, and activities in the sponsorship village at the Staples Center each day of the X Games.
Good-bye X Games!
More from the sponsor village: