The history of BMX Big Air
Mat Hoffman, 1992
Mat Hoffman's quest for BMX Big Air began on a homemade quarterpipe in Oklahoma City in 1992. "I had to put aside everything I knew about ramps and treat it like a new form of riding. My main concern was if my body could take the G forces when entering the ramp with a 60 mile-per-hour approach speed," Hoffman said.
Mat Hoffman, 1993
"It took two years of planning and saving before construction on the world's tallest halfpipe was nearly finished," Hoffman said. "To pump a 20-foot tray, I'd need speed, tons of it, and without motorcycle assistance, the next best thing would be a giant roll-in [pictured on right of Hoffman]."
Mat Hoffman, 1994
"I listened to people who told me a 20-foot aerial was impossible, and then I listened to my heart tell me that without challenge to what is known, there is no progress," Hoffman said.
Mat Hoffman, 1997
After a windstorm knocked down the first Big Air quarterpipe that Hoffman and friends built, Hoffman returned to regular-sized vert ramps, competing in the X Games, expanding his BMX brand Hoffman Bikes, and producing a show for ESPN2 titled "Kids In The Way."
Mat Hoffman, 2001
In 2001, Hoffman returned to the Big Air quarterpipe with aspirations to achieve a 30-foot aerial. "The first day, I was airing higher than I'd ever gone before." Days later, Hoffman crashed and was knocked unconscious. "My memory was wiped," said Hoffman. He hung up his Big Air obsession, settling on a personal high air record of 26.5 feet.
X Games BMX Big Air
In 2006, BMX Big Air was introduced at the X Games at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Though the number of riders invited to compete was small, the field produced some of the highest BMX aerials seen at an X Games event. Kevin Robinson took the first BMX Big Air gold medal, followed by Chad Kagy (silver) and Allan Cooke (bronze).
Chad Kagy, 2006
Originally a skatepark rider, Chad Kagy picked up vert skills throughout the years and easily adapted to the BMX Big Air discipline. He is now a regular on the BMX Big Air invite list, and no stranger to Hoffman's quest. Here, Kagy clocks a feeler air at the inaugural X Games BMX Big Air competition in 2006.
Mat Hoffman, 2007
The lure of the MegaRamp brought Mat Hoffman back to X Games competition in 2007. Riding a brakeless BMX bike, Hoffman was unable to correct his speed approaching the quarterpipe during the contest. The resulting flyout catapulted Hoffman more than 20 feet in the air; he landed on the deck of the ramp. Somehow, he walked away with just a bruised tailbone.
Kevin Robinson, 2008
For Kevin Robinson, the transition from BMX Vert to BMX Big Air was natural, seamless and awe-inspiring. The ramp seemed to suit his style better than a normal-sized vert ramp, and throughout the years, he's produced some of the most stylish no-handed flairs in the 20-foot range.
Dave Mirra, 2008
At X Games 14, BMX legend Dave Mirra decided to give the MegaRamp a try. He adjusted with ease (Mirra's vert and park skills are untouched) and finished with a silver medal in his inaugural outing. A year later, disappointed by his bronze-medal finish in BMX Big Air, Mirra hung up his Big Air aspirations and instead decided to focus on Rally.
Kevin Robinson, 2008
As a tribute to Mat Hoffman, Kevin Robinson partnered with Red Bull to try to achieve a high air record. Set in Central Park in New York City, Robinson was able to break Hoffman's mark of 26½ feet by several inches.
Kevin Robinson, 2008
"There is no better feeling than setting a goal and accomplishing it, no matter what adversity you have to face," Robinson said following the Red Bull high air experiment in June 2008. Mat Hoffman was also on location to verify the world record.
Mat Hoffman, 2010
In 2010, in partnership with ESPN, Spike Jonze (left) and Jeff Tremaine (second from right) produced a documentary film on Hoffman's quest entitled "The Birth of Big Air." The film premiered at X Games 16 to critical success. Hoffman, pictured here with the producers as well as BMX innovator Bob Haro (far right) was celebrated throughout the week for his achievements.
Steve McCann, 2011
Following in the footsteps of friend and riding partner Chad Kagy, Australia's Steve McCann transcended the BMX Dirt and Park disciplines to excel through the ranks of BMX Vert and Big Air. In 2011, McCann achieved his first X Games BMX Big Air gold medal. He returned in 2012 and successfully defended his title.
Kevin Robinson, 2012
At X Games Asia in mid-2012, Kevin Robinson was able to land a no-handed one-footed flair on a ramp dubbed the MiniMega, which was slightly smaller than the BMX Big Air ramp used at X Games. At X Games Los Angeles 2012, Robinson attempted the new move several times, but ultimately settled for the no-handed version and a bronze medal.
X Games Foz do Iguaçu
BMX Big Air returns to X Games Foz do Iguau on April 18 in Brazil.