For motocrossers, two categories of dirt bike competition filled the agenda: Freestyle MX and MX Best Trick. The floor of Rice Eccles Stadium was filled with ramps of all sorts and landings to match, plenty of air bags and pads to keep out-of-control riders safe, and the ground was covered in a mixture of carpet, foam padding, and rubber mats. That’s right…no dirt! Traction was consistent and abundant for all riders, and most of them sported well-worn tires by the night’s end.
The Freestyle MX event boasted an all-new format in which riders were required to submit their run on paper, specifying what tricks would be done, off which ramps, and in what order. While the requirement was mind blowing for some, others said that they always pre-planned and memorized their competition runs, anyway. Riders were scored on the execution and extension of their tricks. Additionally, tricks were graded on their difficultly, and several types of tricks were mandatory for every run: front-of-bike flip trick, rear-of-bike flip trick, whip, turndown, etc. Sixteen riders qualified for Freestyle MX, and after Friday’s semi finals, eight were included in the big show.
In the end, it was New Zealander Levi Sherwood who emerged with a popular win aboard his highly modified KTM 250 SX two-stroke bike, as his smooth style and flawless style were undeniable. X Games gold medalist Josh Sheehan of Australia used a perfect double backflip to earn the runner up spot aboard his booming Honda CRF450F thumper, while Japan’s Taka Higashino returned to form at NWG after struggling with a shoulder injury for the past couple months. Higashino rounded out he podium on his Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke.
MX Best Trick was won by racer-turned-FMXer Gregg Duffy, as his double front flip was smooth as silk. Though video of Duffy performing a double front flip has surfaced on the Internet, this was a first in scored competition. The same goes for Australian Pat Bowden’s ruler front flip, which was absolutely shocking to see. Rounding out the podium was double-trophy winner Sheehan, who pulled off a massive KOD double back flip on his second attempt after over-rotating his first attempt and taking what looked like a very painful impact to his backside.
All in all, the show at the Nitro World Games was thoroughly enjoyable, exciting, and satisfying. The program ran smoothly and there were very few breaks in the action as each different event took center stage. We can’t wait to see what goes down at Nitro World Games 2017!