By Michael Antonovich
Photos by Jordan Powell and Michael Antonovich
After coming to the United States from Japan a handful of years ago to work with the Metal Mulisha, and more importantly Jeremy Stenberg, Taka Higashino laid waste to the competition in his two one minute runs at the Staples Center and earned his first X Games gold medal. Higashino held off stiff competition, including podium finishers Levi Sherwood and Javier Villegas, with his 93.33 score.
The event started off with Australia’s Rob Adelberg, who carried momentum from his second place at Red Bull X-Fighters Dubai to a seventh place finish. Former gold medalist Blake Williams made his return to X Games after an injury kept him away in 2011, and two solid runs allowed him to net a fifth place finish, despite a nagging ankle injury. Todd Potter was visibly off in his first run and was unable to break the 80 point barrier, but came out in the second round to score an 84.00. Spanish veteran Danny Torres made his long awaited return to the event, and due to his many years on the X-Fighters circuit, rode to a solid eighth place. Former X Games winner and returning silver medalist Adam Jones was one of the last riders to take to the course, and despite two complete runs, was only able to finish sixth place. Andre Villa was unable to compete in the second round after a slam near the end of his first run, and earned 10th for his efforts.
Nate Adams, Levi Sherwood, Javier Villegas, and Taka Higashino flowed around the simple, yet challenging course as they battled one another for the three possible medals. Higashino notched a 93.33 in his first run of the night and set the bar high for the competition. Sherwood, the 2010 runner-up, doubled his silver medal count with a two diverse runs and made for a few tense moments for Higashino, but it was not enough to steal the lead.
The decision for the bronze medal was disputed in the moments after the final run, as Villegas and Adams were judged with the exact same score of 88.66. Although Adams’ first round score (88.33) was a full point higher than Villegas’, the 2012 FIM FMX World Champion was awarded the medal over Adams at the podium ceremony.
1. Taka Higashino 93.33
2. Levi Sherwood 91.66
3. Javier Villegas 88.66
4. Nate Adams 88.66