X Games Austin 2016 Recap [PHOTOS]
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Though the threat of thunderstorms loomed, they failed to materialize as the action kicked off at X Games Austin 2016. LifeProof Step Up and Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing Moto X events took center stage on Day 1.
Under the setting sun, crowds gathered to watch riders shoot for the sky in the LifeProof Moto X Step Up. With the bar raised to a staggering height of 33 feet, it was a rare tie for the Gold medal, with both Australian Jarryd McNeil and the Czech Republic’s Libor Podmol clearing the mark in the final-only format. Italian rider Massimo Bianconcini snagged a bronze, clearing 32 feet.
Meanwhile, on a flat track that saw a lot of rain this week, it was Michigan’s Jared Mees who broke away from the pack and edged out Kenny Coolbeth Jr. for gold in the Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing final. Coolbeth came close, gunning for different lines in the final laps, but Mees held him off to take the win. Brad Baker from Washington grabbed his third consecutive Bronze in the event.
With Skateboarding, Moto X and BMX taking center stage, X Games Austin 2016 saw the hot Texas sun give way to a cool evening stacked with action. Crowds gathered to watch the world’s best action sports athletes compete in what will be the final X Games at the storied Austin venue.
Kicking off the day's competition on the street course were the Skateboard Street Amateurs, with young skaters from around the world competing for gold. In the end it was Salt Lake City native Tyson Bowerbank taking his third-straight gold in the event. With consistent, clean runs and technically impressive tricks his early run score of 89.66 would not be topped, though Louisiana’s Christian Dufrene came close landing a Big Spin Front Boardslide to fakie on the Bumper bar impressing the judges enough to earn a 88.00. 15-year-old Jagger Eaton took third with an 86.66.
Veterans and rookies alike battled it out during the Skateboard Vert finals. As one of X Games' longest running events, the strong showing of English skater Sam Beckett took the ramp by storm throwing huge airs and unseen technical tricks like a backside Ollie 540 to rock n’ roll slide earning a score of 89.33, enough for his first gold at X Games. Young Japanese rider Moto Shibata however, may have won the crowd over throwing classic old-school tricks like a massive Madonna to fakie on his silver medal run which scored an impressive 88.66. Jimmy Wilkins, another young rider, took third with a 86.00 signaling that perhaps a new age of vert skating is upon us.
Meanwhile legendary BMX rider Jamie Bestwick walked away his 13th gold in BMX Vert. With a run that narrowly edged out the inventive riding of Simon Tabron, Bestwick’s consistency and power impressed the judges enough to land a score of 90.66, Tabron meanwhile earned a 86.00, respectively. Coming in third was the 49-year-old legend Dennis “DMC” McCoy, an accomplishment unparalleled for his age.
The Coors Light Moto X Freestyle event took the already raucous crowd to new heights with Australian Josh Sheehan’s smooth riding and inventive trick selection, including an incredible double back flip on his final jump. Sheehan’s incredible style set him apart surely playing into his gold medal winning score of 93.33. Second place finisher Rob Adelberg’s 91.66 edged out Clinton Moore who claimed his first X Games medal, snagging a bronze with a score of 91.00. All three riders are from Australia.
Early on riders battled it out for gold in the Intel BMX Dirt final to the delight of gathering crowds. From the beginning it was Tuscon’s Kevin Peraza’s game to lose. With a succession of stylish airs the 21 year old ultimately secured his first X Games gold with a score of 88.00 due in large part to a massive lawn dart front flip which capped off his run. Ben Wallace, with a score or 81.00 landed second with a 360 bar-spin to late downside double tail whip while James Foster put down enough for a 73.00, landing him in third.
On the Toyota Men’s Skateboard Park, Brazil’s Pedro Barros wasted no time setting the bar with a powerful first run that scored 90.33. Utilizing his power and speed, Barros made use of inventive transfer ollies and a smooth alley-oop backside air to secure his sixth X Games gold in Skateboard Park. Defending champ Curren Caples skated a technical run with tricks like a backside smith grind and a frontside 360 ollie, earning 87.66, enough for second. Chris Russell took third with a score of 83.33.
Meanwhile, BMX action heated up with the revolutionary riding of France’s Tom Pages taking center stage at the Fruit of the Loom Moto X QuarterPipe. With the contest already won with his signature bike flip, rather than play it safe with a victory run, Pages threw down another first, an impressive ally-oop 540. It was an easy choice for the judges who scored Pages a 92.66. Josh Sheehan’s fully extended flair took second with an 85.00 as Clinton Moore grabbed third with a score of 84.33.
Next up was the Moto X Best Whip contest with last year’s winner Australian, Jarryd McNeil defending his gold with his unique take on the classic whip. This was McNeil’s second gold of the games coming after a victory in Moto X Step up on Thursday. Axell Hodges placed second followed by Spain’s Edgar Torronteras in third.
The final competition of X Games Austin 2016 went down with riders giving the crowd their all in the Monster Energy Moto X Best Trick contest. With Jackson Strong throwing a huge front flip, he ultimately took the win with a score of 94.00. This came after a scare in the earlier QuarterPipe event in which Strong injured his neck attempting double backflip. Josh Sheehan took silver for his third medal of this X Games as Clinton Moore captured another bronze.
A busy final day at X Games Austin 2016 concluded, wrapping up a three-year run for X Games in the Lone Star State.
With inclement weather affecting the event all week, it was one to remember beyond the world-class competitions as spectators and athletes alike dealt with the volatile conditions, including the cancellation of the America’s Navy Skateboard Big Air and The Real Cost’s BMX Big Air finals due to high winds, plus two nights of musical performances being cancelled by lightning and heavy rains.
For the first time in the X Games’ 21-plus-year history, severe weather forced two venue evacuations, but still delivered an estimated X Games Austin 2016 attendance of more than 100,000.