As BMX enters into its 17th year of competition at X Games, a familiar name is absent from the BMX Park, Big Air and Vert roster: Dave Mirra.
Wait? Dave Mirra isn't riding X Games this year? Truth be told, Dave is not on the list of invited riders this year. According to sources close to Mirra, including former Mirraco team rider Ryan Guettler, "Mirra is thinking more about Rally."
And that focus is obvious this year. With Subaru as a backing sponsor, Mirra currently sits in fourth place in the Rally America Series, and has achieved some of his highest Rally placings to date over the past few months, including second place at Sno*Drift Rally in North Michigan, and third at the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri.
Mirra will return to X Games 17 as a competitor, only he will not be riding a Mirraco BMX bicycle. He'll instead be driving a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car with co-driver Marshall Clarke.
But really? Dave Mirra, the same BMXer that holds the record for the most medals won at the X Games (currently 24), not riding his bike at the X Games?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. And unfortunately, it does seem as though Mirra's priorities have changed. Last year, at X Games 16, Mirra, who was invited to ride BMX Park, accepted the invite but decided not to ride at the last minute. His spot was given to an alternate in Park.
Mirra did race Rally at X Games 16, but was disqualified.
And the year before, at X Games 15, Mirra rode Big Air and placed third, but dropped out of Park at the last minute, returning to race Rally on the final day of competition.
Nothing against Dave of course; these competitions are brutal commitments, and riding in multiple disciplines is an honorary accomplishment in itself.
At X Games 17, Dave isn't stretching himself too thin. He's just choosing to race Rally.
For those of use that have witnessed Mirra's path of X Games domination since the mid '90s, his absence from the BMX roster is unfortunate. But let's face it: athletes get older (Dave is now 37), priorities start to shift, and motivations change. Dave may not be sitting on the deck with Dennis McCoy or battling Garrett Reynolds on the park course, but he is still a fierce competitor to be reckoned with, in whatever vehicle he chooses to use.
I like to think that Mirra's absence from the BMX roster signifies that a new generation of X Games competitors has stepped up to take Dave's place, and that Dave, the proud father of BMX domination at the X Games, gets to sit back, race Rally and marvel at the spectacle he helped to create.
BMX at the X Games will miss you Dave, but we wouldn't be here if not for your valiant contributions to the sport.