I have spent the past few weeks in the midst of the X Games rider selection process. The selection committee is responsible for picking the riders that will get the nod and an X Games invite for the coming event in Los Angeles. It's always an interesting process to get so many knowledgeable industry folks together and hear them make their arguments for what riders actually deserve a spot. Each year seems to be harder than the next as the amount of competitive riders increases and the field sizes shrink. This is the time when we hear the stories of riders old and new who are laying it all on the line for a shot at X gold. These stories are especially prevalent in the Best Trick category where new rotations and distances and accessories are constantly being invented, but none more than in the few months leading up to X. I like to call this "silly season."
The fact is that the wild stunts pulled in Best Trick competition are eventually going to find their way into a freestyle run and create a sensation that could easily win a big event. Look at Kyle Loza's Volt: It seemed like a crazy, one-off trick that Loza could not even pull consistently, but just a couple of years later both Robbie Maddison and Clinton Moore were pulling the trick in their freestyle runs at Red Bull X-Fighters in Madrid.
Pastrana thought he had the world on lock when he pulled the double backflip. It was so insane that certainly no one else would ever even attempt it? Wrong. One year later, Scott Murray was one-trick-wondering his way into America's hearts and proved -- to everyone's discomfort -- that you could even walk away from a botched double flip. Then came Cameron Sinclair. Sincs proved the double flip could not only be mastered, but also added it to his freestyle runs several times before his big crash in Madrid.
We could go on with the list, but I think you get the idea. The sport needs the spectacle and circus of the Best Trick event because it really accelerates the performance curve and gives so many of these guys a reason to take the risks they were probably going to take anyway. And if any rider is going to risk anything, it should be at one of the major events where there is a fantastic medical team and crisis plan in place. Hucking for YouTube glory in your back yard is not going to yield the same results when motorcycles attack.