After just losing the Speed & Style gold medal to Nate Adams at the X Games in 2011, Mike Mason claimed his redemption this past weekend in Los Angeles. Mason had medaled on four prior occasions at the biggest event of the FMX calendar and after establishing himself as one of the more technical riders in the sport, can finally add the elusive medal to his collection. We rang up Mason just days after his win to hear how this will affect his season and career.
After coming so close last year, how does it feel to finally get your gold medal this season?
It feels good, man. I got silver last year and was kind of bummed because I don’t feel like I tried my hardest. I learned my lesson for this year, and to go up against Nate it felt like a rematch. When it all worked out, I was really excited.
This being something you have worked so hard for and came close to getting last year, has it sunk in yet?
It is still kind of sinking in, and it is crazy to think it actually worked. Honestly, three weeks ago I was stressing out because I had just switched bikes and didn’t have a spot to ride, so I didn’t really know if I would be any kind of contender this year. I was really hard on myself and worried, but when it happened I was really relieved.
Where have you been staying lately?
The whole month before X Games, I was staying in Reno at my parent’s house and riding with Adam Jones where is ranch is at. They have a little Supercross track there, which is good, because my Vegas spot got closed down.
You had your bulldozer stolen a while back as well, didn’t you?
Yeah, my tractor was stolen at the spot and right when I got home the track closed down. It was a pretty killer month.
Was it closed down because of permits?
No, it was a public track and the people didn’t want to do it anymore. They closed the whole facility, so we had to pull our ramps out and level the track. I had just gotten home from India, so I was stuck in a pickle and didn’t really know what to do. Luckily Adam Jones and Adam Conway in Reno had a good setup for me to go up and get ready for X.
How was it to be in India? Was that the first time you had ever been somewhere like that?
I was there for almost a month, and it was cool because it was the first time that action sports had been over there. They had a vert ramp for skate and BMX, as well as us. There were probably 10,000 to 12,000 fans per show, and it was awesome with a good vibe. It was definitely an experience to go and see how they live over there, but I am pumped I got to go.
Getting back to X Games, coming into this year you said you felt unprepared after your switch off of Yamaha and back onto Honda. Did it take a while to get comfortable on them again, or did you feel like you picked it up quickly?
I picked it up quick, but I was stressed that it was going to take awhile. I had just a month and my mine thing was learning all of my tricks on it. I only had to have three for Speed & Style, but I didn’t know how I was going to flip it. I had motoed them on the outdoor tracks, but I knew that was going to take too long. I love the 450 and it took me about a week to get comfortable on it, so I am really pumped I switched.
You were killing it on the track, the same as last year, and you are solid on that style course. For people that don’t know, what is your racing background?
I raced my whole life and when I turned pro, I did the National Arenacross series for three years, did a couple of Supercross races here and there, and some outdoors. I have a lot of experience racing and when I go into the Staples Center for Speed & Style, I have a little bit of confidence because it is so similar to Arenacross and is what I did for a while. I have my little secrets where I can pick up some time on those guys.
What did you think of X Games this year? There was some controversy with the scoring during the regular freestyle events, with Adam Jones for example. And what did you think about the progression this year?
Overall, I think it was a really good event. Every year there is controversy with judging, whether who does good or who does bad. I thought Best Trick went good and a lot of guys did cool stuff, and Speed & Style was obviously really good. Everyone rode well and it was a bummer that Edgar (Torrenteras) went down because he was giving everyone a run for their money. He would have made the event a lot of fun. Step Up was probably one of the best they have ever had, watching Renner and Buyten go 40 plus feet.
Other than your bike this year, you have had sponsor changes as well and on camera in the stadium you said you had to get a gold medal so you can get paid more. What is going on with your program and have you had more interest by other sponsors after last week?
I think the sponsor I have a definitely happy with this weekend, and it is always good to do that. I was just messing around at Staples, because I know I am getting to the edge now where I am not as competitive in freestyle. Speed & Style is awesome, but it is only one event a year. If you are not riding X-Fighters and all that stuff, you lose your riding a little bit, but I am pumped on the people I have. Everyone is taking really good care of me, and with this gold we can keep another couple of years going and build some more relationships.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? You fly to Mexico later this week for a Nuclear Cowboyz show, but how will you finish out these next few months?
I will stay busy with demos and the Nuclear Cowboyz tour. Usually in September, October, and November, I will go to Europe and do Supercross demos and do anything to stay busy. Like I said, I don’t get to ride X-Fighters and that anymore, so I have to find different avenues to stay on the bike.