Freestyle motocross is evolving, and we’re continuing to see the evidence of that at X Games Minneapolis. There is a new breed of rider emerging that isn’t the race-influenced supercross-turned-FMX star of the past. Athletes have now grown up riding strictly FMX, and the boldness that naturally accompanies that is showing through more and more. You can see it in the skills on display as well as the overall approach and even the attire: pared-down safety gear, including riders in street clothes or no shirts at all during their runs. This is all good news. Freestyle is the first word of the game, and a rider’s individualism is as much a part of the equation as their raw technical ability. Athletes like Harry Bink and Colby Raha are doing their own thing with style and seem to not care what anyone else is thinking. That is how progression happens.
Moto X QuarterPipe High Air was the first event of the weekend for dirtbikes, and it did not let us down. In its sophomore year, this event is a blast for spectators. Although landers for quarterpipes are usually much larger, X Games has only so much space, meaning the riders need to carve the takeoff ramp in a motion to go straight up, instead of up and over, which is much safer. The riders seemed to enjoy the new layout, and everyone wondered if 35 feet was too small for the height pole. Tyler Bereman earned a bronze with a height of just under 30 feet. Raha took second, and it was easy to see that this man is very comfortable on his motorcycle. In his final interview he said, “I’m going to touch the ceiling on this next one,” and he came close, hitting 33 feet, 2 inches. But Axell Hodges has been riding this same setup a lot in demos recently, and his experience showed. In practice he established himself, and in the contest he went 34 feet, 3 inches for the gold. Here’s his winning run:
The night closed with another big event: the Moto X Freestyle final. The course was well laid out, with lines coming from every direction. They had everything from a smaller moto quarterpipe to massive 110-foot gaps. The contest seemed to belong to Jackson Strong. He came out with an incredible amount of speed and jumped everything put in front of him. He frontflipped a gigantic gap and kept everyone on the edge of their seats with his unique ability to power through everything. He had the lead through the first round and decided not to take a second run. Rob Adelberg came out, and as part of his impressive run he nailed his first-ever frontflip in competition and was sitting comfortably in second. He also passed on his second run. That’s when Tom Pages got the bike issues worked out that had prevented him from taking his first run, and he stole the gold away from Strong. Pages did a bike flip on the quarter, double flip variations, and more than deserved the win he took at the last possible moment. Josh Sheehan finished fourth, missing the podium by just a third of a point. Check out the three MX Freestyle podium runs:
Any of these three runs would likely have been good for gold in previous years. We can’t wait to see this sport continue to evolve.