In what was no doubt the most intense head-to-head duel ever witnessed in X Games Moto X Step Up history, Red Bull’s Ronnie Renner prevailed over rival Matt Buyten to capture gold as the two riders demolished the previous world height record (37 feet) in the process.
“That was absolutely unbelievable,” Renner said after the event. “Matt and I always push each other in Step Up, but tonight was ridiculous. My wrist will be sore tomorrow, but it’s all worth it.”
In Moto X Step Up competition, riders attempt to clear a bar that starts at 32 feet and rises higher and higher with each round. A two-time winner of the event in 2007 and 2009, Renner has played second fiddle to Buyten the last two years, but triumphed through pain on Friday night to reclaim the gold in front of a near-capacity Staples Center crowd.
Six athletes (Myles Richmond, Massimo Bianconcini, Brian Deegan, Todd Potter, Renner, and Buyten) qualified for the final, and each rider was given two attempts to clear each bar height to continue advancing through each round.
All six riders cleared the opening height of 32 feet, but the round-two height of 36 feet would not be so kind. The first rider to go down was Italy’s Bianconcini. Moments later, Potter followed. Renner and Buyten proceeded to make 36 feet look easy, quickly establishing themselves as the riders to beat.
Richmond, Deegan, Renner and Buyten were left to take on the third height of 38 feet, which happened to be — at least momentarily — a new world record. Unfortunately for Richmond, a nasty crash during his first attempt took him out of the competition, but Deegan, Renner, and Buyten all cleaned 38 feet to continue on.
The 40-foot mark would eventually claim Deegan a couple rounds later, leaving just Renner and Buyten to duke it out for the gold. After landing from a successful 43-foot jump, Renner began favoring his left wrist as the hard-impact landings were clearly taking their toll. Shortly thereafter, Buyten also cleared the 43-foot height, and the contest rolled on.
In an unbelievable display of skill and heart, both riders cleared the 44- and 45-foot marks with ease, but with every landing came more and more discomfort in Renner’s injured wrist. After clearing the bar at an unbelievable 47 feet, Renner once again rolled to the sidelines nursing his wrist, and it looked as though the pain was beginning to have its way. Just moments later, however, Renner’s distress quickly faded, as Buyten hit the bar on both attempts at 47 feet, and just like that he had claimed gold while putting his stamp on a new world record.
Follow Red Bull on Twitter for more news and updates from the X Games.
- X Games 18: Levi Sherwood Snags Silver in Moto X
- Red Bull X-Fighters home page
- Ronnie Renner profile