Higashino, Sloan, Bufoni win on Day 1
LOS ANGELES -- After edging out Adam Jones in a tie-breaker finish on Thursday night at X Games Los Angeles, Japanese rider Taka Higashino earned a three-peat in Moto X Freestyle.
"It's crazy," Higashino said. "I just try my best."
Moto X Freestyle wrapped up the opening day of the final X Games Los Angeles. After 11 years in L.A., X Games is moving on in 2014, with a new stop in Austin, Texas.
"After riding the course today -- it was really tight, a lot tighter than in years past," said Jones. "I think everybody would probably agree that with what Freestyle's become in L.A. we're pretty happy to try out Austin next year and get a big course with a lot of options."
Higashino won his first Moto X Freestyle gold at X Games Los Angeles 2012. He won again in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, in April.
Moto X Freestyle was canceled due to weather at the X Games in both Munich and Barcelona.
Higashino led after the first of two runs in Thursday's final, posting a score of 90.0 for a run that included the rock-solid backflip combo that has become his signature since he debuted it at last year's Moto X Freestyle competition in L.A.
It proved to be the biggest score of the day, but Jones matched it in Run 2, and Higashino matched it yet again, earning enough points to break the tie with a run featuring a holy grab, rock-solid flip, no hand flip, stripper Superman seatgrab combo, an indy air combo, a kiss-of-death flip, a Cordova flip and a lazy boy flip.
Nate Adams rounded out the podium, his first Moto X Freestyle medal since winning gold in 2011. Jackson Strong crashed while attempting a body varial as his last trick of his second run and sustained a right foot fracture.
Skateboard Big Air
Elliot Sloan won his first X Games gold medal in the America's Navy Skateboard Big Air on Thursday, beating out favorite Bob Burnquist, who was going for a six-peat in the event.
"It's awesome. All my friends and family are here," said Sloan. "I dreamt of this moment for so long. This just means the world to me to be skating with Bob, who I've looked up to since I was 11 years old."
The Big Air contest took place at a new venue at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.
Thirteen-year-old Tom Schaar took second, and Burnquist ended up in third.
Burnquist, who has three Big Air golds from this year and a record-setting 25 career X Games medals, fell hard and smacked his face on the quarterpipe near the end of the second session. He was later diagnosed with a broken nose.
"It is windy and you have to deal with that," said Burnquist. "We were all having a hard time, but this is it, this is what we do, ya know? That [fall] was quite the punch. A little dizzy here, but I'm really stoked for Elliot and Tom."
Sloan was sitting in second place behind Tom Schaar when he stuck a smooth tailgrab 720, tailgrab 540 combination in the closing minutes to move into first. Burnquist had one final chance to bump Sloan out of first, but he fell on the gap section of his last run.
Women's Skateboard Street
Earlier in the day, Leticia Bufoni claimed her sixth X Games medal and her third gold in 2013 with a win in Women's Skateboard Street. Bufoni edged out Lacey Baker and Marisa Dal Santo, who took silver and bronze, respectively.
In April, Bufoni won gold in Women's Skateboard Street in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, and she won the Real Women video contest in Barcelona in May. "This is the best year of my life," Bufoni said.
On Thursday, the win didn't come easy on a Street League course that favored more technical street skaters. Bufoni is better known for her flowing surf style in bowls and transition, and she prefers bigger rails when skating street. But she was the top qualifier in prelims, posting the only score in the 90s of the day, and she made the most of quarterpipe features and an A-frame rail to attack at top speed during finals.
"I don't really skate ledges and manny pads so I had to do some different tricks, but it was fun," Bufoni said. "I think Lacey's killing it. She's one of the best girls out there. I think the difference was because I skated everything and skated the rail."
Third-place Dal Santo earned her seventh medal since her X Games debut in 2005. X Games rookie Samarria Brevard just missed the podium in fourth place, ahead of 12-year-old Alana Smith and Rachel Reinhard, who dislocated her left elbow on her final run. Defending X Games Los Angeles 2012 gold medalist Alexis Sablone missed the cut for finals.
Moto X Best Whip
In Moto X Best Whip, Josh Hansen won his first gold -- although his seventh X Games medal and his fourth in 2013 alone -- after besting longtime favorite and four-time Best Whip gold medalist Jeremy Stenberg in the fan-voted competition.
Hansen garnered 42 percent of the votes collected via Twitter, to Stenberg's 24 percent. Vicki Golden became the first woman invited to the Best Whip competition. She collected 21 percent of the fan vote, finishing in third.
Information from XGames.com's Colin Bane and Dave L'Heureux was used in this report.