Last weekend marked the 11th and last annual X Games in Los Angeles, California. Knowing that, it was only right to attend the event to see as much of this extreme sport as possible before starting a new chapter in Austin, Texas, for 2014.
I was shocked at the wide variety of fans in the audience throughout the weekend, from the star-struck children and risk-taking teenagers, to the middle-aged men and women – all who seemed to be rocking the X Games t-shirts and snapbacks.
I arrived in Los Angeles from Charlotte Thursday night, and made it just in time to see the Moto X Whip and Moto X Freestyle finals at the Staples Center in downtown LA. I had no idea what to expect, since I had only watched these competitions on ESPN in years past, but it was better than I could’ve ever imagined. The excitement that comes with every movement makes it impossible to look away without missing something.
The atmosphere was awesome – music played the entire time, everything from hard rock to old school hip hop, sometimes even overpowering the big screen spots! The announcers kept things upbeat, fun and purely entertaining for the audience with constant jokes and intense play-by-plays, while riders did their own part in having some hilarious interviews while recognizing and appreciating their loyal fans.
The Intensity Starts with Moto X
Americans dominated the weekend with the most competitors in all events, leading to the most medal winners. They swept the podium in the Moto X Whip Finals, including female rider, Vicki Golden taking the bronze! The Freestyle competition was non-stop movement and I never knew what each competitor would do next. With two smaller ramps and one enormous dirt mound right in the middle, riders went round and round doing trick after trick while flying through the air. It was amazing to see the talent and efficiency that it took to land each one.
The Moto X events that took place the following night were by far the best – the Moto X Step Up and Moto X Speed and Style. Saying that they are the “best” is not the right term, but the attendance and enthusiasm definitely showed a rise in interest from the crowd. Let me give you an idea of how exhilarating these events were.
The Step Up competition resembled other sporting events like the high-jump or pole-vaulting, except on motorcycles… at up to nearly 40 feet in the air. Just picture that. And the more ridiculous it seems, the more correct your vision probably is. The technique needed and risk taken with every jump was unbelievable, but these riders took on the challenge, some with their families cringing in the audience the entire time.
The Speed and Style final was a competition between two riders at a time judging on exactly what it says – speed AND style.
The crazy thing about this event was how neck and neck the riders were while cutting corners and flipping through the air. Every turn and every jump looked as if they were about to crash, and once or twice they actually did. Despite the intensity of the race, the competitors always gave each other high-fives, head nods or even hugs to show how much respect they truly had for each other.
Skateboards, Bikes and Racecars Join In
Skateboarding was also a rush to my surprise, with events like Rob Dydrek’s Street League, the Red Bull Phenom and the Skateboard Vert – Tony Hawk’s specialty. Not that I expected little from these events, but seeing it in person is a whole different vibe than what you get when watching it on TV.
Friday was mostly the preliminaries and eliminations to these events, and Saturday was the Finals. Both events were held outdoors at the LA Live Event Deck, which gave the events a raw feel, like you get when watching teenagers try our their new boards on street curbs or park benches. They would practice, test new tricks, wipe out while trying and get just as pumped as the audience when they succeeded.
Similar to this was the BMX Street Finals, except put bicycle pedals under their feet instead of a skateboard, while using their tires, handle bars and pegs to do some of the wildest tricks I’ve ever seen.
Although I didn’t see these next events in person because of the hour or so drive between venues in LA, the Gymkhana Grid, RallyCross and Supercar races and competitions brought in a whole new dynamic to the X Games and auto sports in general. These events seemed to successfully mix V8 Supercars with the Fast and the Furious, while including parking lot donuts and figure eights on steroids.
X Games 2014
To say the least, I enjoyed every single event and can’t wait to see it all go down next year in Austin.
Not only will the events flourish at the new Circuit of The Americas™ track, but the X Fest that goes on throughout the weekend and X Music featuring several popular artists will fit right in with the fun, young, upbeat, yet laid back feel that Austin brings over any other city.
I will definitely be there!