AUSTIN, Texas -- Thirty minutes after Chase Hawk gave this city a reason to be proud Sunday, a throng of people waited for him at the bottom of the stairs.
It had started with a few and quickly swelled to more than 100. His parents were there. So was his sister. His friends, male and female, stood among strangers. Austin's native son had won BMX Park gold in a BMX town, and it was time for the locals to rejoice.
[+] Enlarge Photo Joshua Duplechian/ESPNAustin local Chase Hawk was the fan favorite and the winner in BMX Park.
When Hawk finally appeared, no one freaked out or chanted his name. They simply stood and applauded, the volume escalating with each stair he descended. It was noble, almost like a royal prince being received by his people.
Hawk's mother, Donna, beamed on the perimeter. Roughly 12 months ago, she got news that the breast cancer she had battled for two years was in remission. Hawk's father, Danny, a steel guitar player in Austin since the early 1970s, wore a grin that stretched from earlobe to earlobe under his cowboy hat.
"I'm Willie Nelson's neighbor," he told a reporter proudly. Then: "My son won the X Games."
Hawk, who had never won a medal in seven prior X Games appearances, made it his mission to change that this year. The biggest event in action sports was coming to Austin for the first time, and he wanted to represent his hometown to the best of his ability, he said. He changed his diet and started consuming protein shakes. Every minute was focused on one afternoon in June.
The commitment was mutual on Sunday.
"There wasn't one silent person on either side of these bleachers today," Hawk said. "After every run, everybody was at full volume. That does a lot for a rider; it adds a lot of motivation to what you want to do."
More than 160,000 people came out for the four-day music-and-action sports festival that was Austin's inaugural X Games. Fans were wowed by BMX, Skateboard, Moto X and RallyCross feats during the day, and crooned to the conclusion of each night with the rocking sounds of performers like Pretty Lights, Kanye West and the Flaming Lips. All in all a resounding success and we can't wait to do it again next year.
X Games Munich 2013 Skateboard Park gold medalist Curren Caples, pictured here, can't wait to do it again, either. He made the finals of Men's Monster Energy Skateboard street this year. Future double-gold contender, anyone? Nyjah Huston closed out X Games Austin 2014 with a bang on Sunday, winning the Monster Energy Men's Skateboard Street final with the highest score ever posted in an X Games Skateboard Street final. Huston's sixth career Skateboard Street win now makes him the street skater with the most X Games gold medals.
"I felt super on-point as soon as I started skating in semifinals -- I was like, 'I feel really good today' -- but the wind makes you question how your tricks are going to go," he said. "It messes up the whole feel of the pop when you pop your board and it makes everything so much more sketchy." "It's about time," screamed women's skateboarding legend Vanessa Torres, right, as she rushed the course to congratulate Lacey Baker, left, for winning Skateboard Street on Sunday in Austin. Baker, a highly technical street skateboarder who specializes in flip tricks, already held three X Games medals -- two silvers from 2013 and one bronze from 2006 -- but this is her first gold. "I'm speechless right now," said Chase Hawk, addressing his hometown crowd after his BMX Park win on Sunday. "This is unbelievable. All of you are amazing. This couldn't mean more to me. This is the city I grew up in, so this just means that much more." Hawk, an X Games competitor since 2006, was the top qualifier coming into the finals. His winning run featured huge transfers like a 270 from the shallow end to the deep end of the concrete bowls, a fastplant on the Texas longhorn feature, a 360 over the triple set and a foot jam nosepick at the buzzer. Hawk rode the course faster and smoother than any other competitor in the finals, favoring style and flow over technical trick combinations. Temperatures soared into the 90s at Austin's Circuit of the Americas. For the athletes, the biggest challenge was staying cool and hydrated. "By the time you do like five tricks in this heat your muscles start to lose it," said BMX Street gold medalist Garrett Reynolds. Here, Torey Pudwill feels the burn in the Men's Monster Energy Skateboard Street final on Sunday. Total BMX/Vans pro Daniel Sandoval is one of the few BMX Park pros who excels at technical jump combinations and technical lip tricks. At X Games Austin, Sandoval combined both styles effortlessly to earn the bronze medal in BMX Park. Fans felt he should have placed higher, but Sandoval was very happy just to be on the podium Tony Hawk added photos of Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Women's Skateboard Street gold medalist Lacey Baker to his very active Instagram account, along with this selfie with six-time Men's Skateboard Street gold medalist Nyjah Huston and Thrasher Magazine's 2013 Skater of the Year Ishod Wair. Hawk won the very first Skater of the Year nod back in 1990. Huston's still waiting for his. Apdaly Lopez won the X Games debut of Stadium Super Truck racing on Sunday at Circuit of the Americas, just one day after competing in the Baja 500 back home in Mexico. The win bumped him into the overall points lead in the 2014 Traxxas Off-Road Racing Championship series, ahead of Robby Gordon. With his win in Stadium SUPER Trucks, Apdaly Lopez, a 19-year-old from Tecate, Mexico, became the first Mexican male to win an X Games gold. At 18, rookie Alec Majerus, from Rochester, Minnesota, was the youngest skateboarder in the X Games Austin Monster Energy Skateboard Street field. After an impressive placing at Tampa Pro earlier this year, Majerus earned an invite to Austin and coasted through Round 1 to finish third in the Skateboard Street finals. In a first for an X Games, video gamers competed for actual medals in a "Call of Duty: Ghosts" tournament hosted by Major League Gaming at X Games Austin.
Inside a tent in the festival area, gamers threw virtual bombs, fired animated bullets and coordinated attacks in frenetic team matches. Haro/Nike pro Dennis Enarson has been on the verge of a BMX Park win at X Games for several years, and again in X Games Austin, the gold medal eluded him. But the fans love Enarson, his style, his ability to air, and the fact that he rides every contest with a huge grin across his face. At X Games Austin, Enarson finished in an uncharacteristic ninth place. Saturday at X started with a bang, literally, as cars took to the track for Ford RallyCross and RallyCross Lites (which Mitchell Dejong is seen winning here). X Games BMX Dirt made a triumphant return to U.S. soil while competitors faced off in Moto X Speed & Style and BMX Big Air. See the highlights of all this and more in tonight's collection of the best images of X, and check back Sunday night for the final collection of images from the very first X Games in Austin. Kanye West played a sold-out show Saturday night at X Games Austin on the eve of his 37th birthday. His new wife, Kim Kardashian, was also in attendance. Morgan Wade -- the defending X Games Los Angeles 2013 Big Air champion from Tyler, Texas -- landed a Superman backflip over the gap and a double tailwhip on the quarterpipe in first his run. The Texas flag pinned to the back of his shirt won over any Texas fans not already on his side, but the judges left him in silver medal position. Wade had hoped to challenge Kevin Robinson's quarterpipe Big Air record, saying "like they say, everything is bigger in Texas," but the conditions made it impossible. Scott Speed has one of the most accomplished resumes on the Ford RallyCross roster. He is a former Sprint Cup driver and one of a handful of Americans who have competed in the prestigious Formula One race series. Speed won the first RallyCross race he ever entered last year, at X Games Foz do Iguacu, but failed to make the finals at the other three 2013 X Games races.
All that changed Saturday, as Speed lived up to his name and smoked the competition, easily driving his way to the first position for X Games Austin gold. An unknown BMX Dirt rider warms up on the X Games Austin dirt course on Saturday prior to the start of BMX Dirt finals on Saturday. Long known for its BMX dirt trails scene, X Games employed a dirt construction crew that included local Austin BMX dirt riders and builders. Every invited pro was impressed with the resulting course. Pedro Barros has made the podium in every X Games Skateboard Park contest he's entered since he won gold at his X Games debut in 2010. On Saturday at X Games Austin, Barros, who's from Florianopolis, Brazil, furthered that record by earning his fifth gold medal in the discipline. For 15 years, Bucky Lasek has enjoyed the distinction of being one of the best vert skateboarders around. In 2013, he swept all four X Games vert events. His bid for Rally gold has been a much rougher road. Lasek made his first GRC final in October 2012 in Las Vegas, but he hasn't been able to repeat that performance at X.
This Saturday, however, he beat crowd favorite Travis Pastrana in the semifinals to claim the last qualifying spot into the RallyCross final, then went on to overtake Liam Doran and Nelson Piquet Jr. to claim his first RallyCross medal, a silver. "Being able to that that run that I landed was unbelievable to me," said X Games Austin Big Air gold medalist Colton Satterfield. "It was the craziest feeling and I think it took about 20 seconds of everybody shaking me just now to realize what happened. I don't think it's still even hit me. I love everyone here, I love Austin, I love everything about this place: Morgan is insane, and everyone who rode tonight in seriously the hardest conditions... mad love to everyone who's insane." Kyle Baldock rolled into X Games Austin having won the only BMX Dirt gold medal at X Games in recent history, at X Games Foz do Iguaçu last year. And Baldock wasn't about to give up the momentum he created in Brazil.
Baldock's first run secured him the top spot, and it remained untouched throughout the competition until he one-upped himself on his last run of the competition. Baldock remains undefeated in BMX Dirt at X Games in 2013 and 2014. Few BMX riders are invited to ride multiple disciplines at an X Games, but Pat Casey is one of the few exceptions. Casey was invited to ride BMX Dirt and Park, and made it to the finals in Dirt on Saturday. Unfortunately, Casey bailed on one of his final jumps of the day and smashed his face into the backside of the dirt jump lip. Casey walked off the crash and will participate in BMX Park on Sunday. Nelson Piquet Jr. is the first Brazilian ever to win races in NASCAR-sanctioned events (four in 2012). His father, Nelson, is a three-time winner of the overall Formula One title. In the Ford RallyCross final Saturday, Piquet took the joker lap twice, resulting in a black flag and a penalty.
Though he was in second position before the flag, a forced stop and start allowed Bucky Lasek and Liam Doran to overtake him. A medal finish looked impossible until Doran spun out going into the last turn, allowing Piquet to sneak into the bronze-medal spot. Moto X Freestyle was set to go down Saturday night, but high winds created unfavorable conditions for competitors and had to be delayed. MX Freestyle will now go down at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday. Each October, Austin plays host to a local BMX competition known as Texas Toast. Chris Childs, pictured here, was one of the most talked about riders on the dirt course at Texas Toast last year, and his performance there secured him an invite to X Games Austin. Here, Childs twists a stylish one-footed x-up over the BMX Dirt course on Saturday. Childs finished in 11th place at X Games Austin. It's not every year that amateurs get to compete on the same venue as the pros at X Games. But Saturday at X Games Austin, a Skate Street Am event took place alongside the pro division. Chase Webb, pictured here, won the contest. With any luck, Webb and the others who competed are the names you'll see in the pro division in years to come. The Day 2 roster was packed at X Games Austin with Men's Skateboard Street elims and finals for BMX Street, Skateboard Big Air and Women and Men's Enduro X kicking the day off, and music from Dillon Francis and Pretty Lights taking the night through to its conclusion.
Be sure to check back every evening for an update of the best moments and images from each day of competition this week. Despite strong gusts that forced the pros of Skateboard Big Air to time out their runs according to lulls in the wind, the Texas-sized crowd of X Games Austin was introduced to the MegaRamp on Friday with force. Fourteen-year-old Tom Schaar became the youngest person to win a Skateboard Big Air medal on Friday, upsetting veteran Big Air skater and MegaRamp pioneer Bob Burnquist, who happily settled for silver, as evidenced here. Tom Parsons, who's better known as a Supercross racer, proved he had what it takes to win at X Games when he dominated the fan-voted Moto X Best Whip contest on Friday, beating out favorite Jeremy Stenberg to earn gold at his first X Games contest. Parsons broke onto the scene by winning the Monster Energy Cup Biggest Whip competition in 2013. X Games Munich 2013 Skateboard Park gold medalist Curren Caples was an alternate for Skateboard Street coming into Austin. Not only did he make it into elims at the last minute, he beat out a heated field of heavy-hitting street skateboarders to qualify for the final on Sunday. Kacy Martinez, 23, is just the third woman to top the podium since her sport's debut at X Games Los Angeles 2011, where she won bronze. Maria Forsberg and Laia Sanz have previously dominated the women's field. Forsberg announced her retirement from competition last October and is expecting her first child this fall; Sanz opted to compete in the Enduro World Championships in Finland this week. One of the few BMX riders who can easily compete across multiple disciplines at X Games, Haro/Nike pro Dennis Enarson entered BMX Street on Saturday at X Games Austin and finished with a bronze medal. Enarson's runs featured effortless 360 foot jam nose picks to fakie and, as pictured here, stylish barspin gaps. Part of the younger generation of X Games Skate Big Air upstarts, Trey Wood qualified through Round 1 into the finals, but was unable to land a run in his first four attempts. On his fifth and final run, 13-year-old Wood stomped a 720 over the MegaRamp gap and finished with a McTwist at height on the quarterpipe. He ended the night in fifth place at X Games Austin. Aaron "Jaws" Homoki, who is famous in skateboarding for doing massive gap jumps, did his best to make the "SportsCenter" Highlight of the Night when he launched off one of the Skateboard Street course ramps into the watching crowd. Luckily no one was in his flight path when he landed. Ronnie Renner has competed in 20 X Games, and on Friday night he earned his sixth gold medal when he soared past the 34-foot mark in Moto X Step Up. Renner holds the Step Up record at a whopping 47 feet, set at X Games Los Angeles 2012. This is the first time a truck discipline has been held at X Games. Stadium Super Trucks is the brainchild of multidiscipline racing talent Robby Gordon, and brings the thrill of desert racing into a stadium setting. "These are the trucks that you wish you would have stolen when you were in high school," says X Games rookie Jay Reichert, a longtime off-road racing competitor. More than 12,000 fans packed the strip of land between the BMX and Skateboard Vert ramp and Texas State Capitol on as the first of many X Games Austin events kicked off with a bang on Thursday evening. Here, vert veteran Pierre-Luc Gagnon soars his way to the finals. "Part of me looks forward to passing the torch and would like to see one of the younger guys step up and take it, because I want to see my sport progress and see some other guys run with it," said 42-year-old Jamie Bestwick, shortly after his ninth consecutive X Games BMX Vert win. "But another part of me still really enjoys winning ... I'm going to keep riding my best for as long as I can." Twenty-year-old Jimmy Wilkins became just the seventh different skater to win gold on the vert ramp in the 20-year history of X Games. "It's both shock and anxiety," said Wilkins, who previously estimated his chances of winning at "none." In 2013, 41-year-old Bucky Lasek became the only athlete to sweep four X Games Vert events. This year, an injury kept him off his skateboard until days before the X Games Austin event, prompting him to write, "I'm hurt, not old," on the front of his t-shirt in sharpie during the Skateboard Vert elims, and, "maybe a little old," on the back. BMX Vert competitor Steve McCann typically places in the top three spots at X Games, but two looped out no-handed 900s kept him just off the podium in the fourth place spot. But when he was on, he's on. Here, he tweaks a turndown flair past the 180 degree mark during BMX Vert finals on Day 1 of X Games Austin. Injuries pushed 20-time X Games Skateboard podium maker Pierre-Luc Gagnon off his skateboard throughout the majority of the spring season, and he occupied his time off the board by undertaking photography. PLG came back for Skateboard Vert at X Games Austin stronger than ever, made the finals, but didn't end up making it into the top three spots in the end. Ishod Wair has been on a tear this year, finishing in second place at Street League's first event of 2014 and fifth at the Tampa Pro in March. Thrasher's most recently-named "Skater of the Year" has been destroying the street course here at X Games Austin in practice and will definitely be one to watch when the Men's Skateboard Street Elims go down on Friday. This week marks the first time since the introduction of the MegaRamp to X Games that it has been constructed in Texas. Here, an unknown BMX Big Air competitor gets in some twilight practice before the start of X Games Austin. Skateboard Big Air competitor Trey Wood tests out the MegaRamp roll-in during practice on Thursday. Wood is part of the new generation of MegaRamp skaters being schooled to ride the ramp by veteran pro Bob Burnquist. RallyCross Lites serve as a precursor event to RallyCross on Saturday morning at the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin. Three-time X Games BMX Dirt gold medalist Corey Bohan was not invited for the return of BMX Dirt at the 2013 X Games Brazil event, but he secured an invite to X Games Austin. Bohan rode BMX Dirt practice on Day 1 of X Games Austin and flowed effortlessly through the dirt course with dipped 360s. Three BMX Big Air competitors look on as a Skateboard Big Air pro soars over them during practice on Day 1 of X Games Austin. Aaron "Jaws" Homoki will bring his unique talent for crazy lines, big drops and speed to both the Skateboard Park and Street contests in Austin this year. The 24-year-old Phoenix native and 2012 Real Street silver medalist says he'll probably do better in Park but loves the variety of street skating. He's known as one of the best big-drop skaters around, taking on stairs, gaps and drops that most skaters either wouldn't want to try or wouldn't think possible. Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk kicked off X Games Austin with a vert demo in front of the Texas State Capitol building in downtown Austin. Hawk persevered through the 93-degree, humid afternoon to give a packed crowd a glimpse of his Texas-sized skateboarding. Pedro Barros has built a personal bowl and street course in his backyard that has become an epicenter of skating in Brazil. The multiple X Games medal winning skater has taken gold home four of the six Skateboard Park contests he's entered and silver from the remaining two. To say he's a podium favorite in Saturday's Skateboard Park would be an understatement.
Perhaps the most talented X Games athlete never to have won a medal, Hawk carried quite a burden into this week. It floated away with the ghost of his hardware drought.
"This is honestly the first time in the last few months where I really feel like I can relax," Hawk said.
Standing among the crowd, Tom Parsons may not have been able to relate to Hawk's feeling. But on Friday night, he experienced his own superlative moment.
Parsons broke his tibia in three places in January, chipping a shard of his shin clean off the bone during a motocross practice session. He still walks with a limp and wears a hard cast on his lower leg.
When he visited his doctor in mid-May, three weeks before he was scheduled to make his X Games debut, the doctor told Parsons his bone was not healing well and that he should avoid riding his motorcycle for another two to three months. The man might as well have punched Parsons in the stomach.
[+] Enlarge Photo Trevor Brown, Jr./ESPNX Games rookie Tom Parsons earned Best Whip gold after recently breaking his leg.
An ex-racer from Florida who soars upside down when he whips his bike, Parsons, 32, had spent the past four years begging for an invitation to the Moto X Best Whip contest. He finally got his wish this year. One can only imagine his despair when the doctor told him he still needed two or three months to heal.
"I was like, I finally made it, and I'm going to miss it," he said. "I can't let that happen."
On Tuesday, 72 hours before the Best Whip competition, Parsons got on his bike for the first time since his injury. He hit jumps for 20 minutes; the next day, he rode for another 20 minutes. His leg felt stable enough that he figured he would give the contest a shot.
He packed up his van with a friend and began driving to Austin at 6 p.m. After a nap at a rest stop, he arrived on Thursday afternoon.
The following night, Parsons left no doubt. He may have been the least known rider on the track but fans rewarded his talent -- and seeming ability to defy physics -- with by far the most votes.
Asked to describe his X Games journey, Parsons said: "Honestly, I wasn't thinking about medals or money. I was OK going home with nothing. It's taken me so long to get here, and I watch those guys every year in this contest. I just wanted my chance to ride with them."
[+] Enlarge Photo Joshua Duplechian/ESPNKacy Martinez won her first X Games gold in Women's Enduro X.
More than 160,000 people attended the inaugural X Games Austin. They came in all shapes and sizes, from toddlers to grandparents, sweating and soaking in the summer sun like lizards on a rock. They saw favorites come through with flair, a la Jamie Bestwick, Nyjah Huston, Scott Speed and Pedro Barros. They saw underdogs finally triumph, notably Kacy Martinez, who won Enduro X gold for the first time in seven tries, and Lacey Baker, whose Skateboard Street victory came in her eighth appearance. (Stat of the week: The average age of Austin's six skateboard champions was 19.6, the youngest in X Games history.)
They saw a 47-year-old man land a 900 on a kids bike, a feat that earned Dennis McCoy his first BMX Vert medal since the '90s. If you're looking for an X Games ironman, McCoy would be a good candidate. He has never missed a vert competition in the X Games' 20-year history and knocked himself stumbly in a crash 10 minutes before his medal run.
The story in action sports always seems to revolve around the future, whether that applies to evolving tricks or athletes. But this week was a good reminder to savor the present, which is exactly what Chase Hawk's mother did Sunday afternoon.
After watching the newest X Games champion sign autographs and pose for photos, she could no longer resist the urge that had been welling inside of her all day.
"Excuse me," she said. "I'm going to go hug my son."