X Games 17 Moto X Step Up, Best Whip and Best Trick
X Games 17 kicked off today in downtown Los Angeles. The Moto X competition started inside the Staples Center with Step Up, where riders hurled their bikes up over a bar that essentially is an extreme version of a dirt bike high jump.
Six riders entered the competition, including Tommy Clowers, Brian Deegan, Myles Richmond, Todd Potter, Ronnie Renner and Matt Buyten. The field cleared everything up to the 33-foot mark, but once the the bar moved to the 34 ½ mark, Potter was the first elmination but the rest of the field remained.
A few more riders dropped off as the bar was raised. Clowers, who cleared 35 feet back in 2000 during X Games competition in San Francisco, was making his return the Games and looked to be in contention, but he was unable to clear the 35 1/2 foot mark. Deegan and Buyten both struggled on their first attempts, but both were able to clear it and move on and join Renner.
The bar was moved up a foot to 36 feet, 6 inches. Deegan, an X Games veteran also racing in the rally car events this weekend, was competing in Step Up as his only dirt bike event this year. Unfortunately he was unable to clear the mark as Renner and Buyten were the last two left.
In the end, Renner was unable to clear the 37-foot mark on his two attempts, and Buyten hit it on his first try, defending his 2010 gold medal in the event.
“That’s the highest I’ve ever been. I’m just stoked; this is insane,” Buyten said after his win. “This is everything. Everything is on the line right here. This is the X Games, there's no backing down. You can't explain the pressure. The bar just keeps climbing and climbing and the pressure keeps building.”
The Best Whip Final featured a 10-minute jam session where competitors (Jeremy Stenberg, Nate Adams, Josh Hansen, Jarryd McNeil, Thomas Pages and Travis Potter) could literally whip the rear of the bike as far around as possible. Fans were able to text in their vote to determine the winner for the competition. Although there were some great performances during the session, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg walked away with the gold after earning 27 percent of the votes.
“I am stoked to get this gold out of the way,” Stenberg said. “I’m looking forward to two more X Games medals this week.”
Three-time-defending gold medalist Todd Potter was awarded the silver with 24 percent of the votes and Australia’s Jarryd McNeil took bronze with 22 percent.
Saving the best action for last, Best Trick offered an eight-rider field of the world’s best freestyle motocross riders to bust out the best trick. Each rider could take two runs to perform their best maneuver that would earn them scores from the judges to determine who gets the hardware.
Australia's Jackson Strong may have been in only his second X Games, but he landed the first frontflip during his first attempt to set the bar with a 95.66 score. Last year’s gold medal winner Cameron Sinclair came closest with his knack-knack double backflip, while the bronze medal went to Josh Sheehan for his double backflip.
Strong, known as “Jacko,” earned the gold medal on his first run and didn’t need to perform a crazy second trick.
"I was going to be pumped whether I took first or last place, it was just my goal to do a front flip at X Games," Strong said. "I think everyone saw how deep I had to dig. I had to hang on tight for that landing for sure."
X Games darling Travis Pastrana competed in Best Trick attempting a 720. His first attempt came up short and he crashed but quickly hopped to his feet. Without waiting for his second run, he went straight into a second attempt but didn’t complete the final rotation and came down hard on his right side, which resulted in a broken foot and ankle. The crash during his “TP Roll” attempt was especially bad timing considering he was to race in his first NASCAR Nationwide debut on Saturday and also compete in Sunday’s RallyCross race at X Games 17.
"I am sorry this happened and will be back in action as soon as I can. I look forward to Pastranathon 2012 at X Games 18," Pastrana told ESPN after his release from the hospital.
Be sure to check back for more action from X Games 17 on Off-Road.com throughout the weekend.