X Games 2002: Upside Down in Philly

The world of freestyle motocross was literally turned upside down this weekend in Philadelphia, as the city of Brotherly Love hosted the eighth annual ESPN X Games. Mike Metzger proved to be the man of the weekend as he dazzled the full-capacity crowd with his insane backflips. The Godfather took home the gold medal in both the Freestyle and Big Air competition as well as a bronze medal in the Step Up event.

Though Metz’ freestyle run may not have been the strongest in the beginning, Mike blew the doors off at the end by pulling off a feat that will long be remembered in the sport of freestyle motocross┬┐two backflips in a row.

The first flip was thrown off the same setup that Metz has been flipping off of for the last few weeks, a 50-foot ramp-to-dirt jump. However, in midair and at the final seconds of his run, Mike shifted his Ecko/ECC-backed RM250 into second gear to backflip an almost 80 foot dirt-to-dirt gap that left the crowd as well as the judges speechless.

Kenny Bartram went on to finish second and grab the silver medal, despite a nasty crash that led to a broken leg at the end of his otherwise well-executed run. The Cowboy cross-rutted on the face of the cliff that he attempted the backflip on and his KTM spit him sideways and onto the ground.

The bronze medal went to Drake McElroy who despite not getting upside down threw one of the cleanest runs of the day during the new eight rider, one run event format.

After a day off to rest and recuperate, the boys were back at it Sunday to compete in the Step Up event. Tommy “Tomcat” Clowers proved that he is without a doubt the king of Step Up by once again grabbing the gold in the event, which he remains undefeated in. The big news, though, was that he finally hit the bar! The Tomcat knocked the bar down during his first attempt of his last run, but after regaining his concentration Tommy made it over the 34-foot-high bar that second and third place riders Metzger and Brian Deegan could not.

Monday was the Big Air contest, and once again Metzger’s flips stole the show. His first jump was a no-footed flip, which proved to be the winning score of the night at 95 points. His last attempt was equally noteworthy, though, as he landed it no-handed! Metz eventually swapped out and crashed just after touchdown, but the jump was still the crowd favorite.

Other big news from the Big Air competition was Carey Hart, who after years of attempts (with plenty of broken bones to go with them) finally pulled and rode away from the coveted backflip, which he was the first to try two years ago at the Gravity Games. Hart was a bundle of nerves all day, but finally sacked up and threw the trick on his third run, as he elected to sit out his first two. The flip was sketchy to say the least after watching Metzger’s, but it was good enough for the silver medal. Deegan didn’t flip, but threw some sick tricks like his own Mandatory Suicide for the bronze.