This Thursday marks the start of the 17th edition of the X Games, and for moto-fanatics it’s a time to strap into the couch and not leave until the last wheels have turned on Sunday evening. The motorcycle industry is once again abuzz with rumors of who is going to do what, and the speculations run wild with who will leave with the most medals. Motorcycle events make up almost eight hours of airtime allotted for the X Games, signifying that ours truly is the most exciting action sport on the planet.
Will Ronnie Renner reclaim the Step-up title or could the verteran Tommy Clowers earn his fourth gold medal in the competition?
First up on Thursday night is the Step-Up competition. This event has drawn freestylers as well as racers into the fray to see who can clear the bar at the highest altitude. Past winners include Ronnie Renner, Jeremy McGrath and the GOAT Ricky Carmichael
, who have all taken home gold medals. This year expect Ronnie Renner to lead the charge to the 30-plus feet mark, but don’t count out the return of veteran Tommy Clowers who owns three step-up medals.
Best Whip will see a sextet of riders vie for the affection and votes of the general public for the Gold Medal. Nate Adams, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg and Todd Potter are all medal contenders, but Josh Hansen can throw some dirty whips as well. Potter has been known to sway the viewers' votes by back flipping in the contest. We’ll see if he pulls the same gimmick this year.
Always one of the most anticipated contests at the X Games is the best trick contest. This is the time when everyone pulls out that one trick that they have been working on all year in secret and let the cards fall where they may. Rumors abound of Travis Pastrana
finally landing the TP Roll (a 720-degree off axis spin) after laboring for three years without success in public. Kyle Loza is back with several new body varial maneuvers, but they had better be something entirely different from his signature moves, the Volt and Electric Doom. Cam Sinclair is said to have a no-handed double backflip ready to be unleashed. Of all these, however, Mark Monea’s front flip will most likely take the gold if he can stick it clean.
The field is stacked for Friday’s Moto X Freestyle with eight of the best FMXers in the world. On any given day Adams, Stenberg, Blake Williams and Danny Torres could outdo each other for the win. Throw in the smooth style of Robbie Madison and the consistency of Andre Villa and you got a serious showdown. Don’t expect to see Pastrana
Travis Pastrana will be riding in the Moto X Freesyle before jumping on a plane to Indianapolis to drive NASCAR.
on the podium as he has to ride somewhat conservatively to save his body for his NASCAR Nationwide debut on Saturday in Indianapolis and X Games Rally Car event on Sunday. Where does this guy get the energy? Oh yeah, “Red Bull gives you wings” and he’s going to need them this weekend.
Saturday's Speed and Style is a mix of Supercoss
and Freestyle with competitors racing head to head for the fastest time combined with points for freestyle maneuvers. To me it’s a bit of fuzzy-logic to figure out how the scoring and ranking works, but it is cool to watch two dudes racing each other while busting out back flips. Old-timer Carey Hart (don’t tell him I called him old, he’s only a year older than me…) makes his return to X Games to do battle with a field of FMX regulars such as Twitch and Adams. He does have equal parts freestyle and racing skills so he should do well.
The second dirt bike event of Saturday is Women’s Moto X. Eight of the world’s fastest women will duke it out on the course laid out in the Staples Center’s floor. This could be one of the closest events of the weekend as all the racers have really stepped up their game for this year. MotoUSA’s own Vicki Golden has been turning laps at Kawasaki’s Supercross track and hitting the metal freestyle ramps at Ronnie Renner’s practice facility. Red Bull’s Ashley Fiolek is one to watch as well. While filming some video of Golden, I got a look at Livia Lancelot’s speed, and she looks ready to throw down with the rest of the field. She could be a spoiler for a gold medal.
Enduro X makes its debut at X Games 17. Will Taddy Blazusiak take the first every gold medal home from the Staples Center?
Sunday is all about the newest addition to the X Games roster, Enduro X. It’s good to see the off-roaders getting some love on one of the biggest outlets for action sports. Let’s just hope it translates to TV well, as it may be difficult to convey the absolute intensity and strength it takes to compete on the rock-, log- and water-strewn course. All the big names of the sport will be on the line including Taddy Blazusiak, Destry Abbott and Ricky Dietrich. My money is on Blazusiak, but anything can happen in Enduro X. That is why it is such good racing. A handful of racers from the Women’s Moto X will also be racing their own final on Sunday.
It’s going to be a long weekend of moto action, so get your fridge stocked, the big screen warmed up and turn off your phone. Prepare yourself to say “No Way!” repeatedly, and make sure you set your DVR. Also check back here for behind the scenes photos and some insane action sequences as yours truly will be camped out behind the lens at each motorcycle event at this year’s X Games.
Check your local listings for airtimes.