BMX Big Air at X Games, a look back
Looking back at BMX Big Air
In 2004, a new structure was added to X Games, the MegaRamp. The huge structure, built for the addition of Skateboard Big Air to X Games, towered over the rest of X Games, and could be spotted from the 110 freeway next to The Staples Center and L.A. Live. In 2004, only Skateboard Big Air was contested. A year later, BMX rider Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla rode the ramp as a demonstration, and in 2006, BMX Big Air was added as a contested discipline at X Games. Over the past decade, the MegaRamp has fueled BMX careers, bit back at a few competitors, and added a new dose of insanity to BMX riding. Here, XGames.com looks back at the history of BMX Big Air at X Games.
2005: The demo year
In 2005, before BMX Big Air was a contested discipline in X Games, Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla demoed the MegaRamp and landed 360s, backflips and more over the MegaRamp jump gap. Escamilla, who had past experience jumping big gaps over moving helicopters for the likes of MTV, adapted with ease and proved that BMX bikes could easily handle the MegaRamp if the right athletes stepped up to the plate. A year later, BMX Big Air was added as a discipline to X Games.
2006: The inaugural year of BMX Big Air
In the inaugural BMX Big Air competition at X Games (in 2006), four BMX riders were invited to compete, including Kevin Robinson, Chad Kagy, Allan Cooke and Morgan Wade. The MegaRamp, which had moved to the outdoor area of The Home Depot Center, became center stage for Kevin Robinson, who used his vert riding experience to grab the gold medal over Chad Kagy (silver) and Allan Cooke (bronze).
2007: Hoffman ejects
In 2007, X Games moved the MegaRamp back to The Staples Center, where it played host to 10 BMX invites, including BMX Big Air innovator Mat Hoffman, who rode the ramp without brakes and miscalculated his speed during the finals. Hoffman did what would become the biggest flyout in BMX history, and walked away with bruised heels. In the end, Kevin Robinson took home his second straight gold medal, followed by Steve McCann (silver) and Anthony Napolitan (bronze).
2008: Mirra throws down
In 2008, BMX legend Dave Mirra tried his hand at BMX Big Air, and naturally, Mirra looked at home on the MegaRamp inside The Staples Center. Mirra threw down a stellar run that included a no-handed 360 backflip to tailwhip flair on the quarterpipe, but he landed with his foot off the pedal. In the end, Chad Kagy took the gold medal, Mirra settled for silver and Kevin Robinson took bronze.
2009: K-Rob dominates
A year later, the 2008 podium returned to grab medals yet again, switching the order in the process. In 2009, Kevin Robinson's no-handed backflip to no-handed flair earned the gold medal, followed by Chad Kagy (silver) and Dave Mirra (bronze). It was Mirra's final year competing in BMX Big Air. The biggest story of BMX Big Air at X Games 15 in 2009 was not about the podium winners though -- it was all about Anthony Napolitan, who landed the world's first double front flip on the MegaRamp during competition. Napolitan's quarterpipe airs were not as high as the podium winners, but he made X Games history with a fifth place finish.
2010: Kagy takes gold
In 2010, the MegaRamp moved yet again. That year, X Games 16 held events inside the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, home to the Summer Olympic Games in 1984, and BMX Big Air was among the disciplines to make the move out of Staples Center. Taking the gold medal was seasoned competitor Chad Kagy, followed by Steve McCann (silver) and a new face, Andy Buckworth, grabbing the bronze medal. Buckworth took a page out of the book written by Anthony Napolitan a year earlier, landing the double front flip in competition. Meanwhile, Kevin Robinson was forced to sit out his two final runs and finished in the sixth place position.
2011: McCann goes for gold
At X Games 17 in 2011, new faces debuted to compete at BMX Big Air, including Vince Byron, Colton Satterfield, Jed Mildon and Zack Warden. And it was a rough year to watch the competition. Veteran competitor Chad Kagy fell on a tailwhip flair gone wrong and broke his femur. Although Kagy remained calm, he said it was his worse injury to date. (On a side note, Kagy was in the hospital with Travis Pastrana, whom was also injured that year. "I had Travis next door to me, with a broken ankle," says Kagy. "He came crutching in at one point and said, 'I can't stand listening to your screams. This is ridiculous.'") Kagy's earlier runs managed to grab him the bronze medal position, with Vince Byron grabbing his first silver medal and Steve McCann landing in the gold medal spot.
2012: McCann doubles up
In 2012, the MegaRamp moved yet again to the outdoor area adjacent to the L.A. Convention Center, and Chad Kagy made a triumphant return to the competition, following a year of recovery for a broken femur. In the top spot, Steve McCann landed a double front flip on the gap to huge double tailwhip on quarterpipe, netting him a score of 92.33. Followed closely behind was newcomer Zack Warden, who landed new moves for the MegaRamp, including a backflip bike flip on the gap to triple tailwhip on the quarterpipe. In the bronze medal position was a familiar name, Kevin Robinson, with his trusted go-to run: no-handed backflip to no-handed flair.
2013: First stop, Brazil
In 2013, X Games expanded to six events, with four focused on the summer sports, including BMX Big Air. At stop 1 in Foz do Iguacu in Brazil, Zack Warden staved off a last-run rally by defending gold medalist Steve McCann to take home his first X Games gold medal. Warden's winning run included a Warden original jump over the gap dubbed the "Iron Lotus," a backflip combined with a bike flip, followed by a triple tailwhip on the MegaRamp quarterpipe. "It feels so good," Warden, 24, said after the win, saying he felt redemption after last year's Big Air comp at X Games Los Angeles, during which his strong lead was snatched away by McCann on his final run. This time, McCann failed to complete a full run, finishing in eighth. Meanwhile, Kagy grabbed the silver medal spot, and veteran Morgan Wade won his first Big Air medal with bronze. In Brazil, Kevin Robinson crashed on a 540 and was taken to the hospital for evaluation. It was an early sign that his days as a competitor would soon end.
2013: Next stop, Spain
X Games returned a mere month later in Barcelona, Spain, and Zack Warden's gold medal winning push in Brazil was on repeat in Spain. This time out, Warden debuted a new trick en route to his second consecutive gold medal in BMX Big Air: the backflip bike flip to late tailwhip out, followed by a triple tailwhip air on the quarter. Vince Byron took home the silver medal, and Colton Satterfield won bronze. Kevin Robinson was unable to compete, and Morgan Wade set a new X Games height record on the quarter, clocking in at 23 feet, 3 inches.
2013: On to Germany
X Games was only halfway done when it rolled through Munich, Germany in mid-2013, and Chad Kagy returned to the top of the podium with ease, edging out Morgan Wade and Zack Warden. Around this part of the year, it became obvious that multiple Big Air competitions were a tough go for the riders invited, but they made due and weathered the storm.
2013: Return to L.A.
For the final event of 2013, X Games returned to Los Angeles (Irwindale) and all eyes were on Morgan Wade, who walked away with his first gold medal in a Big Air event. Meanwhile, Kevin Robinson returned for his final Big Air competition before deciding to retire. Robinson took sixth, but he walked away with 10 X Games medals, including the first BMX Big Air gold handed out at X Games. "I'm so excited about being a part of this great label of X Games," said Robinson. "I'll continue to support it, be an analyst and just be out to support my friends."
2014: Texas bound
In 2014, the MegaRamp and X Games made a big move out of California, to its new home in Austin, Texas. And things were changing fast for the crew of riders invited to compete. Kevin Robinson was now out of the field, and new faces such as Doug Oliveira and James Foster were gunning for a medal. In the end, Colton Satterfield emerged with his first gold medal in Big Air, landing a no-hander to barspin backflip 360, followed by a triple tailwhip. Morgan Wade emerged with a silver medal, followed by James Foster in the bronze medal spot. Morgan Wade was attempting a new high air record, but the winds during the finals were too strong for him.
2015: Doubled up in Texas
At X Games Austin 2015, the field of riders was changing even quicker than the year before. Chad Kagy was out, newcomer Mykel Larrin was in, and Colton Satterfield returned to the gold medal spot with a new trick for the MegaRamp, the double flair on the quarterpipe. Before Satterfield, no one had ever landed the trick on the MegaRamp. Following close behind was Morgan Wade in silver and Mykel Larrin in bronze. This year, BMX Big Air returns to X Games Austin 2016, and it's not one to miss. See you in Austin Big Air fans.