Athletes, bands battle at X Games Austin

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Last week, Austin hosted thousands of music fans for the annual SXSW festival. In June, X Games will call Austin home.

The first wave of athlete invitations for X Games Austin went out this week to competitors in 17 BMX, Skate, Moto X, RallyCross and Stadium Super Trucks events. X Games also announced a new Battle of the Bands event to be held at the X Games music and arts festival June 5-8.

"The invitations going out is always exciting because it means, 'it's on.'" X Games spokesman Danny Chi said.

It's an especially big year for BMX athletes, with five BMX events being contested.

"Texas is such a big state for BMX, and we actually have five BMX disciplines this year including BMX Dirt, the first time this event has been on U.S. soil since 2006," Chi said. "You have to have the right infrastructure and venue to do BMX Dirt well, and we definitely have both at the new Circuit of the Americas venue, where we're also going to have BMX Vert, Park, Street and Big Air events."

Among the many invited BMX athletes are Texas local and defending Big Air gold medalist Morgan Wade; reigning Vert champ Jamie Bestwick, looking to continue an unprecedented streak of eight consecutive wins; Kyle Baldock, who doubled up with Dirt and Park golds at X Games Foz do Iguaçu 2013; and Street rivals Garrett Reynolds and Chad Kerley, who ended Reynold's six-year streak with a win at X Games Los Angeles 2013.

Twenty invited drivers will mark the X Games debut of Stadium Super Trucks racing, including 2013 SST champion Robby Gordon, his closest rival Rob MacCachren, and X Games Moto X and RallyCross legend Brian Deegan.

On the RallyCross course, two new drivers -- Australia's Sarah Burgess and New Zealand's Emma Gilmour -- will make history as the first female X Games rallycar drivers racing against men. Their competition includes the likes of Deegan, Tanner Foust, Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, Scott Speed and Joni Wiman, who is graduating to the big leagues after an undefeated streak on his way to claiming the 2013 GRC Lites championship.

Nyjah Huston won three Skateboard Street gold medals at X Games in 2013 and will be the man to beat in 2014. Leticia Bufoni also picked up three golds in 2013 -- Women's Skateboard Street in Los Angeles and Foz do Iguaçu, and the Real Women video contest in Barcelona -- and will be back for the Street event in Austin. Bucky Lasek is back after winning all five Skateboard Vert events last year and will also compete in RallyCross. And Bob Burnquist, who has never missed an X Games event in its 20-year history and now has more medals than any other X Games athlete (26 total, 12 of them gold) will look to add to that collection in Big Air.

Ten reasons why Austin is great for BMX

Six Moto X disciplines will make the most of the enormous Circuit of the Americas venue, with Moto X Freestyle, Speed & Style, Best Whip, Step Up, and Men's and Women's Enduro X Racing on the schedule. Tom Pagès, Taka Higashino and Nate Adams are among the top competitors on the Freestyle invite list. Taddy Blasuziak, fresh off his fifth Endrocross championship title, tops the men's Enduro X list. And three time gold medalist Maria Forsberg will look to even the score with four-time gold medalist Laia Sanz in women's Enduro X.

"The Battle of the Bands is just one more element that is transforming X Games into a true festival," Chi said. "The competitions are always going to be at the core of our DNA, but we're also rolling out a lot of other exciting events this year."

See the full list of invites here, and visit XGamesAustin.com for more on the new Battle of the Bands competition.

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