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X Games Shanghai Sets the Stage for a Crazy 2019

Editor’s note: X Games Shanghai, the first-ever X Games in China, is in the books, and though the two-day event was a slightly stripped down version of X Games you’ve seen in the past, the organizers managed to get full drama and excitement out of both days, primarily by featuring fan-favorite events and athletes and dividing the action up so that both days had an equal share of awesome. Check out Micah Kranz’s breakdown of each day:

Day 1

The first day of X Games China has settled, and already the drama is impenetrable. Although the number of events was reduced compared to the Minneapolis X Games event, the contest vibe is as strong as any out there. The level of difficulty of the tricks being completed alone is a testament to this. Despite it being early in the contest season, the riders all put it on the line for the coveted medals.

BMX Big Air is everything you could ask for in an event. The roll-in sits eight stories above the ground, and that’s just the start of the roller coaster. A choice of either a 50-foot or 75-foot gap brings riders to a 27-foot quarterpipe, where they achieve close to three G’s every time they hit the ramp, which propels riders 50 feet above the concrete. This contest is not for the faint of heart.

James Foster found himself on the podium, and I would bet that he has the most podiums in a row in the Big Air event. His tailwhip and quarterpipe assassination puts him on a different level. This time it was third place for him. Vince Byron put himself in gold position by .3 points over Ryan Williams in his last run. His cashroll no-hander to 540 flair/900 spin on the quarterpipe looked as out of control as it could possibly be, but somehow he muscled the handlebars straight and rode away. On top of the ramp was R-Willy, all alone with one run to either secure his second consecutive gold medal, or settle for silver. Ryan eats pressure and spits out gold. His winning run was something of folklore and will be seen for decades. A frontflip with an inward bri flip, landed as smooth as possible over the gap, to a 19-foot frontflip flair on a 27-foot tall quarterpipe. Ryan has made the podium in this event two out of three times now, and he’ll get the chance this August to get a third straight. Click here for the full broadcast from Shanghai, or watch the medal runs right here:

The second televised final of the evening was Moto X Best Trick. The one-jump style contest must be insane for the riders to deal with for gauging speed, having to do the trick on the first go, and the TV interruptions must also take some mental fortitude to overcome. As for the course, there was essentially one landing that was shared between two takeoffs. One takeoff ramp is for double flips, and the other is a standard 75-foot gap. Tom Pages put the double flip ramp to work to secure the bronze medal. He took his hands off in the middle of the double rotation, which added tons of danger and big points to match. The battle between first and second place came down to execution. Rob Adelberg and Jackson Strong both pulled frontflip no-handers off the 75-foot takeoff. The physics behind snapping forward off a lip with a 250-pound motorcycle should be studied and memorialized in the Smithsonian, but it currently wins contests. After much deliberation from the judges, Strong was awarded the win by less than a point over the charging Adelberg. It took Jackson his final attempt, which was also the last jump of the contest, to achieve the feat. Click here for the full contest, or watch the medal runs:

Day 1 couldn’t have gone better in terms of real deal drama and progressive tricks, and Day 2 promises to be even bigger, with more medals being awarded. Best Whip and Skate Big Air have all of the heavy-hitters in attendance and surely will be one for the books.

Day 2

Sunday at X Games China featured more heavy-hitting battles from the world’s best. The highlight events of the day were Skateboard Big Air and Moto X Best Whip, and riders had to challenge themselves against not only the ramps but the elements. Day 1 was windy, and it didn’t let up for Day 2. Any time freestyle athletes are flying through the air roughly 30 feet above the ground is dangerous, and with high winds it can be downright deadly, but the contest somehow went on.

Best Whip started the day with a unique format. There was only one medal up for grabs and the format of the event was an 8-minute first round where the top four advanced to a super final of sorts to battle it out for 4 minutes. Taka Higashino rode in his first best whip only final. He is a fixture at one-jump huck fests and held his own. Jarryd McNeil made his 10th appearance at X Games and somehow didn’t win this contest. He has a slew of Best Whip medals but this just wasn’t his day. Josh Sheehan came out and put down motocross style whips left and right. But when the dust settled it was Tom Pages who threw an entire toolbox worth of whips at the judges. He went switch, back and forth, turndowns, turn-ups — you name it, he threw it both ways for the judges this day. It is awesome to see original variations, and Tom just put a new twist on an old contest. Gold medal Tom’s way for sure. Check out the full contest here:

Skateboard Big Air progressed skateboarding as a whole in China. It started with Mitchie Brusco and his several 1260 spin attempts on the quarterpipe. His final attempt proved it could happen, but sadly this wasn’t the day it did. Bronze went to Clay Kreiner, who big gapped with an indy 720 and hit the quarterpipe with an alley-oop 540. Rony Gomes took home his second silver medal in a row. He pulled out an indy 720 to 360 fakie on the quarter to stand on the podium. Gold went to Trey Wood, coming off a third-place in this event. His varial 540 on the quarter and World First body varial 720 sealed the deal. Click here for the full broadcast, and watch the winning runs right here:

Shouts to Beaver Fleming, who was one of three riders who had to qualify to be in the event. Basically, he had to ride two contests. In true Beaver style, he kept a smile on his face the whole time and was stoked to be there.

Next up: X Games Minnesota has all of the ingredients to create fantastic drama and truly unique outcomes in every discipline it holds. With Hooligan Flat Track, Vert, and Big Air getting major television time, you can bet the talent will come out in August. This summer will be stacked, with the UCI/Olympics, Nitro World Games Utah, and X Games all raising the game on world-class action sports competition. Stay tuned for coverage of it all!

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