Pressure. It can be an athlete’s worst enemy. Some fall mentally before the competition even begins, while others, like Ryan Sheckler, welcome it. With so much hype surrounding the return of the superstar, all eyes were on him for Saturday’s Skateboard Street Final at X Games.
It was a guaranteed hit with the fans, and Sheckler-maniacs packed the stands and made sure that every time he landed, they were heard. Hell-bent on achieving gold this year, Sheckler’s thoughts were set on redeeming himself after a horrific ankle injury suffered during last year’s X Games. Redeem himself he did, blasting backside kickflip board slides down the handrail, backside tailslides on the ledge, and split-second switch kickflips that assured him a top spot with the judges.
The dark horse of the competition looked to be Nyjah Huston, with his super technical display that rarely pulled a look of emotion from the young entrepreneur. Relishing in the heat of competition, Sheckler cleverly combined the best attributes from his two strongest runs and made a push for a big number, even throwing a nasty cab 360 lipslide that helped earn a 92.00.
With two competitors still due for one run each, including Huston, neither could reach the lofty score, and Sheckler‘s triumphant return was topped with gold. His Red Bull teammate Ryan Decenzo dropped in for the bronze.
BMX Freestyle Park finals proved to be a pool of unimaginably tough tricks, high speeds, and creative line development. Venezuelan native Daniel Dhers looked amazing during practice and throughout the elimination heats, but there was no question the competition was going to be stiff, as San Diego locals Dennis Enarson and Gary Young were nipping at his back wheel throughout the day.
BMX fans took note of the high-level clash throughout eliminations, and the seats were filled during the finals, giving the riders an additional boost as cheers filled the park. During practice, Dhers seemed to turn his attention toward long, complete lines, rather than technical tricks. Once the horn sounded for the finals, all of that changed, and his focus was obvious; more tricks and more difficulty.
As the competitors loosened up, Enarson threw down marvels like a footjam nosepick to fakie, a tire slide over the awkward visor, and a hop 270 drop that had spectators up on their feet. Not to be outdone, Dhers fired back with a double tailwhip and a ridiculous 720 that couldn’t have been spun any cleaner. When the dust settled, it was Daniel Dhers earning his third gold medal, with the San Diego boys not far behind.
One of the most underappreciated and ground-breaking moves in BMX Freestyle Big Air competition occurred in 2009, when Anthony Napolitan shocked everyone with his patented double frontflip. Though he didn’t take home the gold, his influence was definitely felt this year as two other riders displayed their versions of the double rotation. Even with the massive move, none of the competitors could find the groove that placed Chad Kagy far ahead on points.
At the end of the night, Napolitan was tied for a bronze with Andy Buckworth, but lost due to the strength of Buckworth’s second-highest run. A tough night for Napolitan, but without a doubt, he’ll be back in his lab coming up with the next trend-setting move for 2011.
Travis Pastrana was locked and loaded, ready to cause havoc on the Super Rally Car course, but mechanical gremlins kept him out of competition completely. His attempt to drive a teammate’s car was quickly shut down by officials due to X Games rules, and Pastrana had to sit on the bench as Tanner Foust out-hustled the other drivers for the win. Back to his bike on Sunday, the multi-competition warrior will look to take out some frustration on the Moto X Speed and Style completion to close out X Games 2010.