Extreme | Outdoor Sports

BMX = 15 X-citing Years of X Games

X GamesHello everyone, and welcome to the newest column here on The Camel Clutch Blog. I will be writing anything and everything, so kick back, and enjoy the read.

Summer is in full effect. Quick what’s the first thing you think of? Is it the smell of the freshly cut grass on the 20 baseball diamonds across the country. Could it be the vacation that you can’t wait to ditch your cubicle for? Maybe like Eric from the blog, summer means FOOD and the smell of burgers and dogs on the grill and laughing and drinking with friends and family alike. All of those things are awesome but to this guy right here, summer means one thing: The X Games.

It has been a part of television for 15 years now, and every year, it steps up just a little more. From its small start in Rhode Island to its two years in my backyard of Philadelphia, to what it’s become now out in Los Angeles, What was a pipe dream is now a sure stay in the mainstream.

I can remember turning on the TV when I was younger, and watching the legends like Tony Hawk shred a half pipe, or watching Dave Mirra tear down a street course with his amazing ability, and deep bag of tricks. I’m going to take a look into just one aspect of what this phenomenon has become, and that being the BMX side of it. From what was 2 individual classes in 1995, to the likes of Big Air and Super Street is today, things have changed and expanded beyond belief. So, put on your helmet and gloves, because it’s time to go ride!

In 1995, if you could tailwhip on a vert ramp, or you could backflip a box jump, you were guaranteed a podium spot. If you were to do that now in 2009, you would still be considered great, but people would ask, “Is that all you got?” When the X Games first hit the airwaves, you had a Vert and a Dirt class. Your prize for winning each class? 7,000 and 4,000 dollars respectively. That’s chump change nowadays! If you win Vert now, since Dirt isn’t “Extreme” enough, (Ask Stephen Murray how he feels about that), your prize is roughly 45-50,000, plus endorsements, and maybe even a new car.

If you think a flair here and a barspin there is your ticket to gold, think again. You have guys pulling double flairs, flat spin whips, even triple tailwhips to barspins now. My advice, keep training. Dropping in on the vert ramp is only half the battle. BMX also has “true” street, park, and big air. If you haven’t seen big air yet, you better tune in this year, because you’re in for quite the shock. I would watch every class if you could, because each has its own stars, like Van Homan in street, Jamie Bestwick on vert, Kevin Robinson on big air, and Daniel Dhers on park. These boys know how to put on a show.

Everyone knows that with big risks sports, come the big crashes. I’ve watched Dave Mirra crash on a double backflip in Philly, I’ve also watched Mat Hoffman almost break his bike, and himself, in half landing the first, and only, no handed 900. To this day, watching Stephen Murray come so close to under rotating a double backflip on dirt gives me the chills. Some of these guys take some of the hardest slams, and yet, walk it off like nothing.

In one of the first X Games, Colin Winkelmann went to, from what I recall, do a backflip to double peg grind on a rail, and wound up back flipping to gutting himself on said rail. At the end of the day, he was fine, but man, did it look like it hurt. Watch footage of Jay Miron crash a 540 double tailwhip on the vert ramp on Youtube, and I guarantee you will be on the edge of your seat.

In all the years of big crashes, there has only been one tragedy, that being said Stephen Murray. It wasn’t at the X Games, but a couple years back, he was trying to win a big contest, and at the end of his run, was trying to do a double backflip, when his foot slipped off mid rotation, and sent him crashing. It left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, barely even alive at one point. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, are the risks worth the rewards?

In closing, this is going to be an amazing year for the Mecca of action sports. You need to watch every night to see what upsets, what tricks, what levels are going to be pushed this year. Keep an eye out for Travis Pastrana returning on the 199 in Freestyle FMX, with some rumored doozies to drop some jaws. Will Dave Mirra return to the top podium spot, and continue being the winningest athlete in X Games history? Who’s going to be the surprise break out star? All this, and more, will be answered from July 30th to August 2nd. I’m excited for BMX street and park personally, since the lineup of athletes is nothing short but amazing. Check out EXPN.com for all your X Games needs.

Josh Usher has been a fan of sports and sports entertainment for over 20 years.

Check out the ESPN: The Best of X Games DVD by clicking here.

Check out Ultimate X the Movie on DVD by clicking here.

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