It was a good night to be the favorite in the X Games' newest and wildest event, as Taddy Blazusiak and Maria Forsberg won gold medals in Enduro X to close out the biggest week in action sports.
After crashing in his opening heat and being relegated to a last-chance qualifier, Blazusiak bided his time in the men's final while early leaders Kevin Rookstool and Geoff Brown were gobbled up by the obstacles. Blazuskiak took the lead halfway through the carnage-filled 10-lap race and rode flawlessly from there -- no small feat on the Staples Center course, even for the most dominant rider in the sport -- to distance himself from silver medalist Mike Brown and bronze medalist Justin Soule.
"Endurocross is always full of energy and the guys race their heart out," said Blazusiak, a 28-year-old Polish rider. "To be honest, I don't think the difference was X Games or not. The difference was that the track was really cool to ride because it was more like a supercross. Everybody had so much speed. All the top guys were within two seconds and that's really great."
Forsberg, meanwhile, quelled two months of nerves and won in a rout. The 24-year-old union electrician from Seattle lapped her competitors despite crashing once, which was much less than every other woman.
"The key to winning is consistency and the less you crash the better you do," Forsberg said. "It got tough because it all got wet from the water [racers had to ride through a trough of water with a log in the middle], so it was slippery. But it was good because I live in Washington so I practice in the rain all the time. You just have obstacle after obstacle; it's a cardio and strength workout. You have to hold on for dear life."
Tarah Gieger won the race for second place, while Kacy Martinez claimed bronze. Just like the men, who were routinely pitched over their bars, the women struggled to navigate the various logs, boulders, tractor tires and puddles, often riding over each other's downed bikes instead of trying to avoid them.
Check out full results.