X Games Preview: The Top Events to Watch in Austin
If the egotistical Kanye West is spending some of his precious time at this year's X Games (his performance is Saturday, June 7), maybe that means that you should pay attention too?
The 20th anniversary of the X Games kicks off Thursday in Austin, Texas. It’s impossible to catch all 19 events over the four days of competition (unless you’re a god like Kanye), so Edge is here to help with a preview of the most important action you don't want to miss. This year's format will have five sports featured, each with its own unique set of disciplines and impressive athletes.
Skateboard Big Air
The name here is self-explanatory. This event showcases a rider’s most jaw-dropping aerial tricks. Riders drop in from 50 or 65 feet on the big air ramp and perform two tricks in each run. Riders are judged on style, creativity and amplitude.
Big Air Skater to Watch: Bob Burnquist
37-year-old Bob Burnquist has never missed an X Games. He's one of just three athletes to have competed in each Games since the inaugural ’95 edition in Newport, Rhode Island. Last year, he became the most-medaled athlete in X Games history and earned his 26th medal, a bronze in Big Air. This year the Brazilian will return again to compete against athletes half his age (or less), like 14-year-old Tom Schaar, who took silver ahead of Burnquist last year in L.A.
Skateboard Big Air Final: Friday. June 6 7:30 p.m.
Skaters ride in a street-inspired course that features stair sets, ledges, rails, quarterpipes and manual pads. Riders have two 45-second runs to show off their most difficult tricks and original use of the entire urban course.
Street Skater to Watch: Nyjah Huston
Huston is just 19, but has already earned more prize money than any skateboarder in history. The California native won his first gold at age 14 and has been going non-stop ever since, winning three skateboard street gold medals in 2013. Nyjah is the guy to beat in Austin.
Skateboard Street Final: Sun. June 8 3:30 p.m.
Skaters ride in the classic skate park, and get two 40-second runs to execute a sequence of tricks using the entire course.
Skater to Watch: Pedro Barros
Another Brazilian favorite, Barros won two gold medals in skateboard park last year. 19-year-old Barros is already drawing comparisons to Burnquist. It may be too much pressure to put on a teen, but he’s certainly on track with four X-Games gold medals in just two years.
Skateboard Park Final: Sat, June 7, 2 pm
Arguably the event with the highest fall-off-your-chair level of insanity, riders combine technical tricks, spins, and flips all while riding a bike from wall to wall of a half pipe.
Athlete to Watch: Jamie Bestwick
With a record eight consecutive X Games BMX Vert gold medals, Bestwick heads to Austin as the dominant rider. British-born Bestwick doesn’t simply own the X Games, but has won every Dew Tour overall BMX Vert title in the event’s nine-year history. He’s simply the best (wick).
BMX Vert Final: Thurs, June 5, 9:00 p.m.
Speed is key as 20 drivers race in 600-horsepower RallyCross cars on a ridiculous course that mixes, dirt, concrete, 50-foot jumps and obstacles.
Athlete to Watch: Toomas Heikkinen
Since crashing during a practice run at the Los Angeles X Games in 2012, Heikkinen has raced with a more refined style. Heikkinin survived the harrowing wreck, in which his car fell short of clearing a 50-foot jump, and returned as a smarter driver. The following season, the Finnish driver won four X Games medals, two of which were gold.
RallyCross Final: Sat, June 7, 2:00 p.m.
The course presents the riders' biggest challenge and competition in this event, as they race through sand pits, logs, rocks, mud and other tricky terrain obstacles.
Athlete to Watch: Tarah Geiger
The most decorated female Moto X athlete, Geiger is the woman to watch this weekend. Her name may sound familiar to the average sports fan for being featured in ESPN The Magazine’s 2013 Body Issue, but Geiger’s body of work on the Enduro X course speaks for itself.
Women's Enduro X Final: Fri, June 6, 1:00 PM