Photos by Shane Ruiz
The X Games has found a new home in its 20th year, as the famed action sports event moved to growing cultural center Austin, Texas, with all of the motocross events taking place at the Circuit of the Americas. Built primarily for Formula 1 and MotoGP, the state of the art raceway as been transformed into a campus of motocross obstacles, skate ramps, and a Rallycross course. Friday marked the start of Moto-X competition and medals were awarded in Best Whip and Step-Up.
Internet hype and a win at last year’s Monster Energy Cup Dirt Shark Best Whip competition put Tom Parsons on the map, but the racer turned freerider came into the 2014 X Games with little thought of taking the gold medal. Complications from a recent leg injury put his chances of competing at risk, but he lined up Friday evening against rivals former medalists Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Josh Hansen, Vicki Golden, and Lance Coury.
The fan based competition has been known to favor popular riders, but the massive inverted whips and a cult following accounted for Parsons taking 33-percent of the votes turned in through the jam session, giving him the gold medal over moto icons Stenberg and Hansen.
2014 X Games Moto X Best Whip Results
1. Tom Parsons 33.00
2. Jeremy Stenberg 23.00
3. Josh Hansen 18.00
4. Lance Coury 13.00
5. Vicki Golden 7.00
6. Beau Bamburg
With a clear-cut winner and a daunting leap, it’s not wonder Moto X Step-Up is one of the most-viewed events on the X Games schedule. The vertical jump face built at the Circuit of the Americas was one of the more hard packed riders had ever faced, since it had spent days baking in the Texas sun. However, it was nothing six of the discipline’s most talented riders couldn’t overcome and they challenged one another for the available medals at dusk.
The field dwindled as the bar rose higher, with Matt Buyten, Massimo Bianconcini, and Josh Hansen all being eliminated by the 32-foot mark. Libor Podmol avoided catastrophe when he landed rear-wheel first, but hung on to advance to 33 feet, but missed out when the bar moved six-inches higher. Still, this was enough for the Eastern European to take bronze.
Former gold medalists Bryce Hudson and Ronnie Renner faced up at the 34-foot mark, and both deployed a number of start techniques from motocross racing to gain an advantage. Both smoked their rear tires on the back plate in an effort to build heat and grip, and Hudson went one step further by using pieces of wood as starting blocks. This would prove to help slightly, but Hudson would fail to crest the bar during his two attempts. Renner blasted over the in just only one try and added another gold medal to his growing collection.
1. Ronnie Renner 34.00 feet
2. Bryce Hudson 33.55 feet
3. Libor Podmol 33.00 feet
4. Josh Hansen 32.00 feet
5. Massimo Bianconcini 32.00
6. Matt Buyten 30.00