Monday Kickstart: X Games 2012

The 18th installment of Summer X Games took place this past weekend in downtown Los Angeles, with all motocross events inside the Staples Center. Here is a rundown from our three days inside the arena…

The weekend kicked with the traditional Freestyle Motocross competition, and the field took to the course inside the Staples Center. Many complain about the course layout, as it is rather small and limited, but having it indoors keeps elements like the wind and sun from playing a toll.

Cam Sinclair's graphics highlighted the movie about his comeback from the devastating injures he sustained after crashing on a double backflip in Spain.

Following his third place finish at X-Fighters Glen Helen, Wes Agee has picked up support from Red Bull. There are also talks to switch the Mulisa rider off of Honda and onto KTM.

During Freestyle practice on Thursdays, riders went out two at a time to get the course dialed in.

Nate Adams arrived at X Games minus two of his major sponsors, Target and One Industries. He has since signed with Stellar MX for his graphics, but is was surprising not to see him flashing the bullseye logos on camera after a decade with the brand.

Adams ran this custom painted HJC helmet during the weekend.

Adams now uses the DC Shoes/Troy Lee Designs collaboration like Jeremy McGrath and Robbie Maddison.

To help each cameraman know what is playing on the live feed, the camera is mounted with this display.

For this year, Todd Potter is now supported by the JCR Motorsports. The team, which is named after Baja legend Johnny Cambell, essentially makes Potter a factory supported rider.

Adam Jones was one of the many riders frustrated with the judges at the event, and he shared his views on Twitter Thursday night. Although he was an alternate for Speed and Style, he left the event early on Sunday morning.

Jones was not the only rider upset by the judging process. Javier Villegas was awarded the bronze medal over Nate Adams in the Thursday night contest, despite having a higher first round score and tying scores in the second. Adams was seen talking with members of the judging staff following his final run.

Taka Higashino's first run score could not be disputed, however. His extension on each trick, along with the US debut of the Rock Solid Flip, gave him the lead in round one and eventual gold medal.

Javier Villegas is rather unknown in the US, despite moving to the States from Chile and earning the 2012 FIM FMX World Championship. A bronze medal finish and moves like this should help to bring him more recognition.

Todd Potter was off his usual flow in the first run on Thursday, but bounced back during his second outing with moves like this cliffhanger backflip. After his X-Fighters win, he earned our latest cover with this move.

Levi Sherwood is known for his extension and body-contorting moves, and this merited him a silver medal.

Access was severely limited on Friday and Saturday, as Staples Center security killed the media's access into the pits or rider seating, despite allowing it on Thursday. This was literally the closest we were allowed to get to the riders without being hassled or having our credentials revoked.

Most of the riders in Best Trick only rolled the landing during practice instead of attempting the tricks they had planned.

Despite throwing an assortment of whips, Jarryd McNeil was unable to overcome Jeremy Stenberg's popularity in the fan voted Best Whip contest.

Josh Hansen and Billy Laninovich represented the racing world in Best Whip, but finished fifth and sixth respectively to Stenberg, McNeil, Potter, and Torronteras.

Days before the event, Mike Mason bowed out of Step Up and handed his spot to friend Myles Richmond. Richmond held his own in the contest until his bike stalled and nosedived into the landing, forcing Richmond to eject. The impact broke both his left femur and right ankle. Heal up, Mylo!

Italian Massimo Bianconcini earned a spot in Step Up, thanks to his world record leap during a Night Of The Jumps event in Europe. He was the second rider eliminated at the 32' mark.

Brian Deegan claimed the bronze medal in Step Up after he launched over the 39 foot height. This is rumored to be Deegan's final X Games as a motocross competitor.

The battle for the gold medal raged on between Matt Buyten and Ronnie Renner. The two used different methods to get over the bar, as silver medalist Buyten jumped straight over it while Renner whipped the bike sideways in the air.

Ronnie Renner has been a staple to the event for the majority of its inclusion in the X Games, and claimed the world record with his 47 foot jump. Though the record will officially stand at 47 feet, Renner was at or above the 50 foot mark on multiple occasions.

The ESPN crew quickly dismantled the Step Up area to allow for a safe landing during Best Trick, which was the next event.

Canadian unknown Bruce Cook has worked with Travis Pastrana for months in preparation for Best Trick. He was unable to land his move, an extended Rock Solid Flip, after his bike slowed during rotation. He did not make a second run.

 

Mark Monea deserves credit for attempting his "Carry On" in both runs. Slow rotations coupled with sliding off the back of the bike kept him from making it at X Games, but Monea has landed it at previous events, including the Monster Energy Cup.

After landing the double backflip on his first run, Cam Sinclair was visibly emotional. Sinclair had to learn how to walk again following a coma caused by a previous failed attempt.

Australian Clinton Moore threw two different tricks in both of his runs, including a body varial to heelclicker in his first jump. He attempted to land a 720 in his second run, but landed identically to Travis Pastrana's prior efforts.

 

Moore's bike landed on its right side and damaged the throttle, causing the bike to run wide open. A track worker ran out to move it while Moore laid on the ground, but the bike ripped out of his hands and tagged the already ailing Moore. The rider would get up moments later, but clearly in pain.

Kyle Loza earned an invite to X Games with his still yet to be landed bike flip, and again tossed the bike away mid-rotation on his first attempt.

After riding to the top of the ramp before his second run, Loza rode back to the top of the roll-in, wheeled to the edge then stalled for time by adjusting his clutch, and tried to refire his bike. It was obvious that he would not make a second attempt even before he handed his bike over to the official standing next to him.

Meghan Rutledge is no stranger to Supercross style tracks, as the Australian competes against men on the course in her homeland. Had it not been for a wash out in the turn before the infield jump, she would have battled closely with Livia Lancelot for bronze.

Jessica Patterson's string of bad luck at X Games continued this year when she and Tatum Sik tangled in the first turn of the race.

Livia Lancelot once again made the trip to the US from France to earn her second bronze medal at X. She and eventually second place finisher Tarah Geiger battled briefly for the runner-up spot before settling into third.

Tarah Geiger competed in both Women's Moto-X and Women's Moto-X Enduro X over the weekend. Geigsy took the silver in her race on Saturday, but was unable to match her finish on Sunday and took seventh.

Vicki Golden claimed her second gold medal in two years with a dominate win in Women's Moto-X. Golden has sat out the majority of the WMA season, but spent the winter on the Arenacross tour.

Robbie Maddison was slated to compete in Speed and Style on Saturday, but a hard tumble in the whoops lead to a few tense moments during practice. Maddo was sent to a local hospital with a collapsed lung and what was initial feared to be a broken tib/fib, but was found out to later be a misdiagnosis from a prior injury. This was to be Maddison's debut on the Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki.

Non-ESPN media members are kept in the aptly named "corrals" for the duration of each event. There are some way around being stuck in the same 10 foot space as every other shooter, and we used them to our advantage in each day.

While shooters are kept at a distance from the action, celebrities such as Guy Feiri are granted floor access. Yeah, makes perfect sense to us, too.

During the practice session for Women's Moto-X and Speed and Style, the track crew pushed this turn back almost 10 feet to allow an adequate run-in for the ramp hit. It was impressive to see an entirely new course built overnight when we walked in each day.

Jackson Strong pulled a body varial variation dubbed "The Jack" in his first run, sans jersey, goggles, or helmet visor. After the theatrics of Loza's second go, we do feel bad for the lack of camera time or hype that Strong received as the winner before his second run. Jacko didn't seem to mind, though, as he rode a victory lap with his pants down.

2012 also marked the last time that Carey Hart would compete as a moto rider in X Games. He was met with a standing ovation after being beaten in the first round of Speed and Style.

Though Hart looked a bit tentative during the race, it does not reflect his speed during the afternoon practice. The H&H team owner was flying each time he took to the course.

After coming close to a gold medal during last year's Speed and Style, Mike Mason was one of the favorites heading into this year's event. He went against Nate Adams in a battle similar to last season, but got the best of his still healing competitor to take his first X Games gold medal.

During the head to head match between Nate Adams and Edgar Torronteras, both riders went for a backflip on the first lap. While Adams would stick his cleanly, Torronteras slammed the ground violently and took a blow to the head. Adams stopped to check on the fallen rider, and the veteran Torronteras was carted off by the medics stating discomfort in his pelvis.

To help boost his presence in Best Whip, Todd Potter and Verizon had this stick-on mustaches made and passed out, as Jay Schweitzer shows.