X Games Austin Day 1: Renner steps up, Smith takes gold and more

Friday June 5th, 2015

In a special edition of Extreme Exposure, we'll be brining you updates each day from X Games Austin 2015, all from the social world and beyond. To start off, we'll chronicle all the action from Day 1.

The music scene in Austin, Texas is unparalleled. And in the fall, college football is king. But for a Thursday night in June, many would argue that the state capital has never looked better as engines and two wheels dominated the local news cycle.

From Obscurity to Beyond

One of the great beauties of the X Games is that the annual event can take a sport from relative obscurity and thrust it into the spotlight thanks to the marketing machine that is ESPN—and sponsorship dollars. Take the Harley Davidson-backed Flat-Track racing for example.

Ever heard of Flat-Track racing? No? Well that doesn’t dim the significance of Bryan Smith’s gold medal-win, the first of the 2015 X Games and the first time the format has been included. Smith, who’s on a bit of a tear lately winning events in Springfield, Illinois and Sacramento, California, was two seconds behind Jared Mees when Mees blew a chain on the final lap.

Step on Up

At 38, Ronnie Renner showed he hasn’t slowed down in the least when he captured his sixth X Games gold medal in the Moto X Step Up event. Renner easily cleared the bar at 34 feet in front of a capacity crowd in downtown Austin with the capitol building in the background. With the victory, Renner sits three back of Travis Pastrana (9) in total X Games gold medals. “Thanks everyone for the messages and love,” he said on Instagram. “That one was a doozie. No more kids for RR. That’s for sure.” We’re thinking he was referencing the flat landings he endured. Those hits might significantly reduce your chances of procreating.

Renner's #xgames gold medal winning 36' jump in the Step Up final.

A post shared by Kurt Bradley (@kurtbradley) on

Let’s Get it On

Texas governor Greg Abbott kicks off the X Games at the opening ceremonies. The X Games in Austin have re-energized the event, attendance-wise. Austin won the bidding to host the summer event over Chicago, Charlotte and Detroit and the city’s contract runs through 2017 and could be extended well beyond if it continues to perform well. If 2014 was any indication, that might just happen. Attendance was 160,000, the highest total since the 2004 X Games in Los Angeles drew 170,471 people. The 2001 Summer X in Philadelphia is still the most well-attended games in its history at 221,652, according to Sports Business Daily.

Texas Governor Abbott starting the 2015 X Games @governorabbott #xgames #xgamesaustin #motoxstepup

A post shared by Josh Kamnetz (@jkamnetz) on

Rail Work

Alexis Sablone gets in a practice round at the street skate venue in Austin. Sablone, who I wrote about last week in Extreme Exposure, is a graduate student in architecture at MIT. The women’s street competition heats up Saturday.

It Could Get Real

Mike Clark and TJ Ellis train for the opening of the BMX Dirt competition that kicks off Saturday. Clark hasn’t won a medal at the X Games but he has a ton of street cred from his peers, who voted him Dirt Jumper of the Year in the annul Transworld NORA CUP poll three times from 2012-14. This will be Ellis’ second X Games as he goes for his first medal as well.

Trains with @tjellis_ today. The jumps are so much fun! #XGames

A post shared by Mike "Hucker" Clark (@mikehucker) on

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