Monday Kickstart: X Fighters Glen Helen

Even though this was an “off weekend,” quite a bit of activity still went down in the one week break between Supercross and the Nationals. Over the weekend we headed to Glen Helen for the Red Bull X-Fighters freestyle contest and copped interviews with the top three finishers from the event.

Red Bull and Glen Helen plowed the REM track to make way for the largest freestyle motocross course in history. The temporary stands and hospitality areas rivaled that of some stadiums.
Each rider is given their own pit stall for the weekend, as well as a air conditioned rest area and staff of doctors to help with any injury or issue.
The X Fighters contest ran a different format than typical head to head knockout matches, with the first round of being riders out of the top six logging a 60 second run without doing any kind of flips.
There was a variety of merchandise on hand for spectators to purchase, including the typical t-shirt and hat fare, but also cell phone and computer covers.
The course included this massive wall ride, which the riders make look like child's play. The technical obstacle has become more common in layouts in recent years.
Red Bull promoted the event on every possible advertising avenue, including billboards, gas station displays, and radio and TV commercials.

Car manufacturer Mini also supported the event.
The company had this Mini Cooper parked and lifted on the side of a massive Glen Helen incline.
Red Bull filled the downtime between rounds with their skydiving team, planes from the now defunct air race series, and helicopter pilot Chick Aaron.
Jordan Unga of "The Voice" started the day by singing "the National Anthem."
Red Bull girls shaded the riders from the SoCal sun with massive umbrellas during the opening ceremonies.

 

Though Martin Koren was eliminated early, the Belgian displayed his extension on the numerous hits.

Danny Torres is Spain's top ripper, but was off the mark at Glen Helen. He is now 9th in the overall standings.
After spending time on the Nuclear Cowboyz tour, as well as numerous video parts, the Metal Mulisha's Nick Dunne competed in his first X-Fighters event at Glen Helen.
Australian Rob Adelberg competed in the contest despite a freshly broken jaw. After placing second last month in Dubai, he is fourth overall in the season standings.
FMX legend Ronnie Renner was on hand at the event, as he helps the production crew gain perspective for the TV broadcast by hitting each of the massive jumps with a helmet cam mounted to his lid. Renner plans to continue his seemingly endless free ride tour this fall.
Mike Metzger was one of the many FMX icons that were honored throughout the day for his role during the sport's infancy.
Eigo Sato of Japan advanced to the later rounds with technical, odd moves such as this side-saddle takeoff.

This massive Indian Air transfer on the Glen Helen uphill was impressive, but Sato shorted the landing by just over a bike length. He pinned his Yamaha YZ250 upon landing and rode away unscathed.
Todd Potter's repertoire of moves, extension, and comfort on the course helped him advance through each round of the contest with ease.
The designers included a Holloywood-esque sign into the backdrop.
Riders were judged on variety of tricks, use of course, extension, style, and energy. By earning the judge's favor on three, a rider moved on to the next round.
In the early moments to his final run of the day, Wes Agee suffered from a mechanical issue and lost a great deal of time correcting it. Because it was his first ever contest, he did not know that he had the option to call a timeout if needed. Agee rebounded from the issue and threw done an impressive run, which merited a third place finish.
Agee won "Best Trick" on the day with an underflip on the left hill step up. While a handful threw moves up the leap, Agee was the only rider to huck it on the left side.

Agee's white Bell Moto9 is bound to be full of sponsors by the tour's next stop in Istanbul, Turkey.
Todd Potter came into the finals in second place behind the weekend's top qualifier Thomas Pages. The wind had picked up during the final two runs of the day and made it difficult for the riders to reach their full potential.
This shot of Potter's whip up the 60 foot hillside shows a small perspective of how intense the leap was. The course favored riders with a free riding, natural terrain background.
Thomas Pages' air-out on the quarterpipe during the final was the highest and furtherest of the weekend.
Pages is known for his whipping ability and uncorked massive turndowns like this all day. But it was not enough to counter Potter's many flip variations, and the French rider earned second place in his first X-Fighters event since Fort Worth in 2010.
Andy Bell hosted the Q&A session with the media after the event had concluded. He helped us hit our mullet quota for the weekend.
After becoming a craze in the early to mid 2000's, Tomas Pages is now one of the few freestyle riders that use MX shorts.
Todd Potter has followed in the footsteps of friend Jeff Kargola and is now sponsored by JCR Honda (Johnny Cambell Racing). Potter dedicated his win to Kargola, who lost his life in Mexico one year ago.
The event was covered by numerous major media outlets, including Spanish giant Telemundo.

Catching Up With Todd Potter

It may come as a surprise to many, but the X Fighters event at Glen Helen marked the first major contest victory of Todd Potter’s career. The Metal Mulisha rider has carved a reputation in the sport for his skills on various terrain, the magnitude of his tricks, namely his whips, and his personality. Potter’s win in California has earned him a spot in the next round in Turkey, and possibly a spot at this summer’s X Games.

How does it feel to get your first contest win?

It feels great, because this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid. And to come out here and complete it is unreal, I will cherish it forever.

Are you excited to go to Europe and compete now?

Yeah, definitely. I have learned the judging system, how it works, and the more contests I do, the better I assume I am getting at it.

Is this a warm up for the summer events and X Games?

Yeah, they are probably going to invite me to the X Games now. I was invited to Best Whip and Step Up, but I am for sure probably invited to Freestyle. The wait until this contests go down so they can invite the best guys. It’s all good now, so I just need to learn some new tricks (Laughs).

There was a lot of talk about the course, how it would cater to Southern California riders.

Yeah, this is just like my backyard, Beaumont, Ocotillo, and is similar with the elevation change and the big hits, the dirty, rutted places. It did cater to us, the guys that ride things like this all of the time. I am pumped to win in front of my friends and family in front of my hometown crowd.

Does it take more to plan a good run when the course is that big?

Yeah, because you never know what run will work and what run won’t. I had Nate Adams backing me and planning my run, so thanks Nate for that because we made the winning run.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer now? Just get ready for the coming contests?

Yeah, I will take a week or so off and then get back on it, get bike on my bike and on the grind. Just do what I love to do and is my passion, which is riding dirt bikes, get ready for Turkey, and hopefully hold the championship lead as long as I can.

How is the JCR bike?

It is rad. Everything on it, we dialed in, my mechanic Eric, Johnny, and I. We really took the time and made a freestyle bike actually work really well. It has MB1 suspension, Pro Circuit pipe, and Pro Taper bars. We cut out the airbox and the seat to make templates for everything and we are getting custom seats so I am not cutting them anymore. We are stepping the whole program up so we are not just taking a stock bike and making it into a freestyle bike. We will make the special parts and everything will be one-off.

You are back with Alpinestars now, too.

Yeah, I never really wanted to leave in the first place, but I did it because all of the Mulisha guys were running the same thing at the time for Deegan’s demo team. I got away from it, but I never really wanted to. But I have found my place with Alpinestars again, and I am really excited for the future with them.

Catching Up With Thomas Pages

After bursting onto the freestyle scene thanks to YouTube clips he and his brother filmed in their native France, Thomas Pages had a brief run in the contest circuit before retreating home. Pages has stayed active in the sport by riding the occasional European demo or photo shoot and even earned a spot in our latest issues “Scan” section, but it has been some time since he was spotted Stateside. We talked with him just moments after he earned second place at the second stop of the Red Bull X Fighters tour and learned about his most recent trip to the US.

You made a name for yourself in the United States years ago by competing in the X Games, but recently you have stayed in Europe. How was it to come back and take part in your first X Fighters contest in years?

It is awesome, because I did not expect anything. I didn't get an invitation until a week ago, because some riders were going to Nitro Circus in Australia at the same time and some were injured. I haven't been following the sport really close, but I'm still riding every day, just not going on the Internet. I didn't know about the crazy, awesome park here and I hadn't ridden any dirt or ramps before, only the foam pit. So, when I came here, I was not confident on the big jumps. I had to follow everyone on the big jumps at first and I felt confident after the first practice. I know that you have to be in to it right away, because if I had waited one or two practices, it would have been too late. After the first practice, I knew all of my lines and kept working on them all weekend.

From a spectator's point of view, it's refreshing to see someone not flip everything. You used to flip years ago, but what caused you to get away from it? How is it to adjust your run so that you don't flip but still get such high scores?

By not flipping, it gave me time to blow up my regular tricks and just extend them as much as possible, like no one ever did, I think. It was unexpected for me to be on top, I did not expect it at all. I felt sorry for the other riders who can flip, because I was that strong to be in the finals, but the judge decided. It's not my fault, and instead of being sorry, I told myself to go big, do the Volt (body varial) perfectly, do the step up, the biggest whip possible.

Dude, there is nothing to be sorry for. If you have the skills to earn the spot, then run it. That's good.

I did really good off of the quarter pipe, and I have one by my foam pit so I was going to do the flair, but I made a mistake and didn't take so much risk. I knew that I had to make the perfect run and take the quarter pipe as big as possible as well. I didn't know I had the skills for it.

Your brother and yourself burst onto the scene years ago with Internet clips. How is it to come to the United States?

I started freestyle with my brother, and now he is not riding anymore. That is not helping me, because he pushed me and if he were still riding, I would have one or two new tricks (Laughs). But I want to be at X Games Best Trick, I will do everything for it.

Coming to the United States in just a week, were you ever "off" or tired?

I had no time to come before, because I just heard a week ago. I had to practice my tricks a lot to put a run together and I was jet lagged tired. But I will be way more tired next week when I am at home, because of all the excitement, the practice, and the stress. I'm on two days of not eating at all because I can't deal with the stress like my brother. That is why we don't like competitions or big jumps.

Catching Up With Wes Agee

To say that Wes Agee was a dark horse for the Glen Helen X Fighters stop would be an understatement; for many he was a complete unknown. The young rider from Southern California has cut his teeth in various Metal Mulisha demos and videos, but prior to the weekend, had never taken part in an event of such magnitude. Agee’s huge flip up the Glen Helen hill, as well as his style helped him earn third place overall, as well as a ticket to the next stop.

With this being your first contest, were there a lot of nerves or worry?

Yeah, I was super nervous but I had heard a lot about the course before I came and knew it was going to be a Southern California course with big dirt hits and a different style. I was definitely nervous with it being my first contest and all the good guys, the best in the world. I just tried to calm my nerves and do the best I could.

What do you think this will do for your career? With this being your first contest and you coming out of the gates this solid?

Being in the Mulisha, I have been kind of a black sheep because there have been so many good riders for such a long time, there was no need to bring another rider to the contest. Now it is the next generation coming up.

You were more of a demo rider?

Yeah, I was more of a demo guy because that is what paid the bills. I did the same tricks that I did today at demos, so I am happy to be here throwing it down.

Did it take a lot of your skill to ride a course like this one, or was it just another day for you?

I could flow the course pretty well, but when you start pushing yourself to throw the biggest tricks you have over the jumps, it is definitely difficult and you have to give it 100 percent of your effort. It is tiring.

What was the most technical or daunting obstacle?

It was probably flipping the step-up on the left, because only two people had flipped the one on the right. I just went for it and it came around perfect, so I got the best move of the night for it. I am stoked.

Have you traveled the world before or will Turkey be your first time?

I have done a couple of demos overseas, we went to Finland and did a few demos, and filmed "Black Friday" in Australia, but nothing competitive. I'll have to be on my "A" game.

To come to a contest like this, where Red Bull caters to everyone's needs, is it surprising how well they take care of everyone?

It is great and what you should expect for such a gnarly sport. We had doctors and paramedics, anything you need to make sure that you are comfortable. It really stoked me out to be a part of.