ESPN has announced the discontinuation of Best Trick competitions from its X Games programs. Both the Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick events will be dropped. The decision comes six weeks after the death of freestyle snowmobile competitor Caleb Moore, who died from injuries sustained during the X Games Aspen event.
The ESPN X Games website quotes an ESPN spokesperson as stating the decision to drop the Best Trick competitions is not directly linked to Moore’s death. It reads:
"Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick were not dropped in response to what happened in Aspen," an ESPN spokesman said. "This decision was under consideration before Aspen, and, in fact, our review of Snowmobile Freestyle continues."
Travis Pastrana electrifying the X Games crowd in 2006 with the first-ever double backflip.
The X Games story goes on to cite an ESPN release on the X Games program change, which states: "This change reflects our decision to focus on motor sports disciplines which feature athletes who also compete in multiple, world-class competitions [e.g., professional events and tours] reflecting the highest degree of athlete participation, competitive development and the global nature of our X Games franchise. Over the past 18 years we have made more than 60 changes to our competition lineups at X Games events to capture the evolution of the sport and these continue that growth."
The 25-year-old Moore perished January 31st, a week after his X Games crash. The former X Games gold medalist was tossed from his snowmobile after attempting a backflip in the Aspen freestyle event. The X Games site reports Moore was initially treated for concussion in a hospital and then developed bleeding around his heart and was later flown to a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, for surgery.
In February ESPN announced the cancellation of snowmobile freestyle exhibition events for X Games Tignes in France, scheduled for March 20-22. At that time ESPN claimed that its “review of snowmobile freestyle continues.” Freestyle events had also been cancelled for rounds of the AMSOIL Snocross series in Williamsburg, Michigan and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the wake of Moore’s death.
The decision to cancel the Moto X Best Trick eliminates one of the signature X Games events. It also featured one of the most memorable moments in X Games history, when Travis Pastrana debuted the first-ever double backflip in 2006
“Best trick was my favorite event both as a competitor and a spectator," said Pastrana in an ESPN X Games story announcing the program change. "It was a staple of progression in FMX but also the most risky part of it. A lot of athletes would cross from other disciplines or learn a special skill specifically for best trick. Usually these athletes were capable of landing their trick in a foam pit or on special set up but under pressure, they rarely did which added to the dangerousness of it. Either way I was a fan of this event and will be sad to see it go."
While the Best Trick Moto X event is discontinued, the ESPN report states that the X Games will continue to host freestyle motorsport competitions.