X Games Austin, Revisiting 2014 and 2015
Big in Texas
Heading into X Games Austin 2016, the last year of X Games action in Austin, Texas, XGames.com is looking back at some of the highlights from the first two years of competition. From downtown events at the state capitol to new disciplines and live music, here are some of the highlights from the first two years of X Games Austin.
BMX Vert battles
In 2015, BMX Vert top gun Jamie Bestwick was looking to claim a 10-peat for gold medals in the discipline. Australian upstart Vince Byron ended that run in 2015, pushing Bestwick back into the silver medal spot. The 43-year-old bowed out graciously. "Vince has been knocking on my door for a while now. I decided to finally let him in," Bestwick said. In 2016, Byron and Bestwick are both on the invite list, and the drama is steadily building as the competition approaches.
Moto X Quarterpipe debuts
On the final day of X Games Austin 2015, a new discipline emerged for dirt bike enthusiasts, Moto X Quarterpipe. The discipline allowed for Moto X competitors to air a quarterpipe into a dirt landing, or ride the quarterpipe and air straight over it (spine ramp style). The new approach allowed for new tricks and styles to emerge, and for the first time in X Games history, the bike flip on a dirt bike was done at an X Games, courtesy of Thomas Pages. Pages took the gold medal and is coming back strong for Moto X Quarterpipe at X Games Austin 2016.
Metallica rocks Austin
X Games Austin 2015 was not just about insane action sports -- there was the music, including Nicki Minaj on Friday and Metallica on Saturday. Both acts helped cram in over 137,000 spectators during the four days of action at Circuit of the Americas, and Metallica's set lasted close to two hours. When it was over, the band sold recordings of its show via their website and donated the proceeds to flood victims in Texas.
X Games Austin's main base is at the Circuit of the Americas, just outside of downtown Austin, but all of the disciplines did not happen at COTA. In 2014, X Games hosted Skateboard and BMX Vert in downtown Austin (next to the state capitol building) and in 2015, Moto X Step-Up moved to downtown Austin. The opening events allowed for spectators not attending the main X Games event a glimpse of the action.
Flat-track racing debuts in Austin
On the first day of X Games Austin 2015, a new motorcycle discipline emerged: Harley-Davidson Flat-Track. Flat-track is simple to describe: riders on high power-to-weight ratio motorcycles race counter-clockwise around dirt ovals, and its origins stretch back to the early 1900s. In Austin, following some mechanical issues by Jared Mees, Bryan Smith emerged as the gold medalist in the debut race. This year, Flat-Track is back and Smith is looking to maintain his momentum.
Hawk takes flight
In 2014, Austin born and bred BMX rider Chase Hawk was invited to compete in BMX Park at X Games Austin. Hawk's less-is-more approach to park riding has netted him X Games invites since 2006, but he had never medaled in an event. In 2014, in front of a hometown crowd, Hawk was the top qualifier coming into the finals, and managed to hold onto the lead through the finals. His gold medal win prompted the mayor of Austin to declare a Chase Hawk day not long after X Games ended.
Kanye West comes to X
On the eve of his 37th birthday, Kanye West played a sold-out show at X Games Austin 2014. On top of gold medal action, X Games has consistently attracted some of the biggest music acts. That tradition continues this year with blink-182, All Time Low, Logic and G-Eazy.
Tom takes the top
It's no secret that veteran Skateboard Big Air competitor Bob Burnquist rules the Megaramp, but at X Games Austin 2014, Burnquist's domination was pushed back into the silver medal position by an unlikely source, 14-year-old Tom Schaar. Schaar was carried off the ramp by Burnquist, who returned in 2015 to regain the gold medal, and Schaar settled for bronze. Skateboard Big Air returns for 2016, and both Schaar and Burnquist are on the invite list.
Jaws takes a bite
Aaron "Jaws" Homoki is infamous in the world of skateboarding for his approach to massive gaps, but at X Games Austin 2014, he surprised everyone yet again by jumping out of the Skateboard Park course. No one was in his landing path, and he successfully completed the launch. It didn't push Jaws into a medal spot, but he did become a contender for the Sportscenter highlight of the night.
Big Air double flair
In 2006, Kevin Robinson wowed the crowd inside Staples Center in Los Angeles when he stomped the first-ever double flair in BMX Vert Best Trick to take the gold medal. In the time since then, not many BMX riders stepped up to the double flair. That all changed at X Games Austin 2015, when Colton Satterfield achieved the feat on the Megaramp during BMX Big Air. Satterfield took the gold medal and bragging rights, as Robinson wept tears of joy from the sidelines.
At X Games Austin 2014, a new discipline emerged that included trucks for the first time in X Games history. Stadium Super Trucks is the brainchild of Robby Gordon, and brings the thrill of desert racing into a stadium setting. In 2015, NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace, 58, was invited to compete in Off-Road Truck Racing. becoming the oldest competitor in an X Games event.
From Skateboard gold to RallyCross silver
For 15 years, Bucky Lasek has enjoyed the distinction of being one of the best vert skateboarders in the world. In 2013, he swept all four X Games Skateboard Vert events, but his bid for Rally gold hasn't been so easy. At X Games Austin 2014, Lasek took a positive step, beating Travis Pastrana in the semifinals, grabbing a spot in the final race and racing to his first silver medal in RallyCross.
At X Games Austin 2014, X Games invited a new type of discipline into the fold: gaming. For the first time at an X Games, video gamers competed for medals in a "Call of Duty: Ghosts" tournament hosted by Major League Gaming. Gaming returned for X Games Austin 2015, as well as X Games Aspen 2016.