Introducing X Games Big Air Doubles
Prepare for Big Air Doubles at X Games
In the late 1990s, when the X Games were still in their infancy and called San Diego, California, home, the disciplines represented in the event were quite different from that of today. One discipline that didn't make it out of the early years of the X Games was Vert Doubles for Skateboarding and BMX. The events featured teams of vert competitors who shared competition runs and created a camaraderie not seen in traditional X Games competition, but it unfortunately was retired in the early 2000s. This year, that all changes. New to X Games Austin 2015 is Big Air Doubles, in which competing teams consisting of one skateboarder and one BMX rider do battle on the X Games MegaRamp. With four competing teams "on deck" for Austin, XGames.com caught up with the competitors to get the inside scoop on this new discipline.
Claiming X Games gold in Austin last summer fulfilled a lifelong dream for Colton Satterfield, who will be the man to beat in both BMX Big Air and the new Big Air Doubles event, in which he'll team up with skateboarder Jake Brown. "We almost didn't have the contest because of the wind and everything last year, but there were so many people lined up on the hill out there that we wanted to go out and do it for them," he says. "It ended up being really crazy because of the vibe of the crowd; having all those people there made it just epic." Satterfield has some skateboarding experience under his belt, too, but says he wouldn't even think of dropping in on the Big Air ramp with one. "I would just die. I don't know how they do it, and it's as wild to see all these young kids out there skating it as it is to see guys like Jake Brown and Bob Burnquist still at it after all these years," Satterfield says.
"The bikes are gnarly because they're so much harder to bail out on," says two-time Skateboard Big Air gold medalist Jake Brown, who teams up with BMX rider Colton Satterfield for X Games Austin 2015. "Those dudes are nuts." The Australian skater is as well known for landing tricks such as the first 720 ollie over the MegaRamp gap as he is for the slam heard 'round the world, when he dropped out of the sky at X Games Los Angeles 2007. Brown knows as well as anybody how humbling the X Games Big Air ramp can be. "I respect anyone who rides that thing, no matter what they're riding on," Brown says. "It's big!"
"The cool thing about Big Air in recent years, in both BMX and skateboarding, is that it really has been an any-given-Sunday kind of thing, where everybody is stepping up with awesome new tricks and no one person is dominating," says Zack Warden, who was the first to bring the backflip bike flip to late tailwhip combo over the Big Air ramp's gap jump and says he was inspired by seeing skateboarders landing kickflip combos. "I've always been a big fan of the skaters, and it definitely gets me amped up to see a good skater throw down." Warden will team up with 2014 Skateboard Big Air gold medalist Tom Schaar for the new Big Air Doubles event.
"The BMX guys can go a lot higher, for one, and they're able to do all these flips and tailwhips, so it's always really cool to ride with them and see how they do their thing," says Tom Schaar, the skateboarding wunderkind who was the first to land a 1080 on a skateboard, back in 2012, and became the youngest Big Air gold medalist last year, at 14, in front of the massive X Games Austin 2014 crowd. Schaar will partner with two-time BMX Big Air gold medalist Zack Warden for the new event.
"I think the more BMX events we can have at X Games, and the more Big Air, the better," says three-time BMX Big Air gold medalist Chad Kagy, who will partner with Elliot Sloan -- the 2013 X Games Los Angeles Skateboard Big Air gold medalist -- for the new Big Air Doubles event at X Games Austin. "Teaming up with the skateboarders makes sense because most of us have been on top of vert ramps and the MegaRamp together for years, so we're always pushing and inspiring each other."
"On this ramp, it's all you can do to focus on your own runs and try not to let the crowds and the wind and the pressure and everything else get to you, so it will be interesting to see how the teamwork thing shakes out," says Elliot Sloan, the 2014 Skateboard Big Air gold medalist. As for his BMX compatriots like teammate Chad Kagy, Sloan has nothing but admiration. "They've got guts riding that thing on bikes," he says. "It's so gnarly when they crash."
Morgan Wade grew up around a heated rivalry between skateboarders and BMX riders at his local skatepark but says he's always been inspired by his skateboarding brethren, especially the Big Air competitors. "For the skaters, it's all or nothing, because they can't slow down on this ramp," Wade says. "Watching them go white-knuckle, that's something I've been inspired by and have tried to emulate. The less brakes you use, the higher you go, and I like going high." Upon learning he'd be paired with MegaRamp pioneer and seven-time Skateboard Big Air gold medalist Bob Burnquist for the new Big Air Doubles event, Wade -- a master of understatement -- added, "Well, that certainly won't hurt our chances."
"I've been out at Bob Burnquist's ramp a lot over the last year, just skating, practicing and getting ready, taking any tips he'll offer," says Tom Schaar, who bumped his mentor down to the second step on the Skateboard Big Air podium at X Games Austin 2014. Afterward, Burnquist interrupted his live TV interview, shouting, "Tom Schaar rules!" and Schaar couldn't help but blush. "That's the great thing about Bob, is he wants everybody to be better," Schaar says. "He'd still love to beat us, but he's stoked when he doesn't, too: he just wants everybody to be at their best. Lately everyone's been out there at his place killing it, so this new event should be a good contest." Burnquist joins BMX rider Morgan Wade for Big Air Doubles at X Games Austin 2015, which premieres on Sunday, June 7 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.