Last month, the BMX community went wild when news hit about Travis Pastrana’s cousin, “Special” Greg Powell, pulling the first ever “Special Flip” during the Red Bull Nitro Circus Live tour in Gosford, Australia.
The “Special Flip” is a backflip body varial - where the bike stays stationary and the body does the flipping around it – that had never been landed up until that point.
Greg was a virtual unknown in the BMX world, aside from being a member of the MTV show Nitro Circus and an amateur BMX rider at best. Greg doesn’t really seem to take it all that seriously and that makes it all the more astonishing.
According to Greg, the “Special Flip” took him eight years to perfect. The BMX community was not only shocked to learn of this new trick but even more mystified to find out it was pulled by a relatively new name. Shortly after pulling the “Special Flip”, video surfaced of the feat and quickly drew close to a whopping two million hits!
The Special Controversy
Controversy and debate quickly arose from BMX riders about whether or not he legitimately pulled the trick. He put his foot down and it was done on a resi-ramp, which is typically used as a practice landing. Regardless, it was a jaw-dropping maneuver; he rode away from it and that is one thing that everyone could agree on.
Greg got tons of media attention in the process, so much so that there has even been speculation about him getting to ride at X Games this year. Now that the dust has settled and the Red Bull Nitro Circus Live crew is back here in the States preparing for the U.S. tour to kick off May 4th, we caught up with “Special” Greg to get his thoughts about all the chaos with the Special Flip, X Games, Nitro Circus Live, and his future BMX career.
Has your life changed much since pulling the Special Flip and getting close to two million views on YouTube?
I can't say I've noticed anything life-altering just yet, but I'll let you know if anything comes up. It sure has been fun doing a few interviews and talking about the trick with family and friends.
Of course I really enjoy chatting with all the Nitro Circus fans who post comments on my Special Greg Powell Facebook and @Special_Greg Twitter pages. Thanks for all the encouraging words, you guys.
What’s next for you now that you’ve pulled the Special Flip? Do you have other major BMX tricks up your sleeve?
The Nitro Circus schedule is really picking up right now. First and foremost, we’re all super pumped to get our Nitro Circus 3D movie underway with Godfrey Entertainment. That will be a pretty intensive chunk of filming and we are definitely up for the challenge.
Simultaneously, Travis just recruited me to try my hand training to hang tires in the pits for his #99 Pastrana-Waltrip Nationwide car. I'll be getting my feet wet at the Iowa K&N East Series race on the 21st, so wish me luck.
Nitro Circus Live Las Vegas is on the horizon - June 4 - and approaching fast. It's up to me to make trick progression a priority but no matter what, I think the main thing is to keep having fun. As far as other tricks go, there are some ideas floating around in my head but nothing too concrete. We'll just have to see what works.
"The guys make fun of me on tour for not knowing when my bike is bent, broken or missing parts."
Nitro Circus Live Australia and New Zealand really provided me with an opportunity to learn some of the finer points of what BMX is really about. It was an awesome privilege to learn from the likes of Chad Kagy, Steve McCann, Andy Buckworth, Jaie Toohey, Cam McCaul, Jim DeChamp, Matt Whyatt, and Andrew Ahumada. Without these guys coaching me up I wouldn't have been able to show people that the Special Flip is do-able.
It seems there’s been some animosity towards you in the BMX community, about not getting your foot all the way back on the pedal when you pulled the first Special Flip and also about it being done on a resi-ramp; what’s your take on that?
As far as the trick goes, it needs work - straight up. I want to have it dialed, meaning feet on both pedals and the confidence to be under control regardless of the landing surface. By no means has that trick arrived. I'm simply pumped it has come together recently as much as it has and that people can appreciate how fun it is. It was a really cool feeling to be able to share that with everyone.
I can honestly say I enjoy riding bikes as much as the next guy and I have a lot of respect for people pushing the envelope in the BMX community. I can see how some of the new trick-learning tools like foam pits, resi-mats, and trampoline bikes get a bit of a bad rap. On some level that makes sense.
But on the other hand, they help challenge people to really explore how big and how technical BMX and other action sports can be. That is something that I've always been drawn to in any area of action sports. It's just the nature of the game, I guess.
Would you consider yourself a “one-trick pony,” or do you ride regularly and intend on furthering your BMX skills more?
The past year has been an eye-opener for me. Just ask my buddy Jim. The guys tend to make fun of me on tour for not knowing when my bike is bent, broken or missing parts. Sometimes I feel a little out of place but I know it's a matter of time and experience for anybody who rides to get to that point where they are completely comfortable in all areas of riding.
"Trying to picture the Special Flip on the Mega Ramp is kind of making my brain explode."
I've managed to learn some extensions and flips so I hope that disqualifies me from the pony status. However, I'll admit to being a horse of a different color since I grew up on more conventional sports like football, wrestling, rugby, soccer and volleyball.
A really fun trick for me has been stretching it out on no-footed can-can no-handers. And yes, I definitely want to develop a broader base for riding dirt and park and maybe get into a few races this year. Hopefully Jim and I can find the time and get the training done beforehand.
Will you be doing many BMX stunts while filming for the upcoming Nitro Circus 3D feature film?
We are taking a lot of things to the next level with NC3D and to not incorporate some BMX/mountain bike elements just wouldn't be very Nitro of us.
There’s been talk that you might be riding in X Games this year; is that official yet? If you do get invited, beside doing the Special Flip, are you planning on attempting any other special tricks?
I've only overheard a few mentions concerning X Games. Trying to picture the Special Flip on the Mega Ramp is kind of making my brain explode, not to mention the 27-foot-tall vert wall at the bottom!
It would be an incredible honor to compete at that level and with those riders. I have to seriously train on vert to even have a chance of getting nominated for an invitation.
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