LOS ANGELES -- Australian rider Jackson "Jacko" Strong won his second Moto X Best Trick gold medal Friday with the "Jack," a variation of the Special Flip body varial backflip invented by BMX rider "Special" Greg Powell, Strong's Nitro Circus Live tour mate. Strong's front race plate was emblazoned with the name "Stono," a tribute to rider Luke "Stono" Stojanovic, who was seriously injured last week at Strong's training compound in Lockhart, Australia, and is still in a coma.
Strong, who also won Best Trick gold in 2011 with a first-ever X Games front flip, has been hyping the new trick since March. He originally had planned to unveil it at the inaugural Crusty Demons Cup, but it was canceled due to poor weather conditions. He managed to keep the details of the trick a secret until Friday's finals. He landed it in his first attempt, beating out Japanese rider Taka Higashino's Rock Solid backflip to one-handed landing and Australian rider Cameron Sinclair's double backflip.
"I didn't want to just be known for the front flip so I went out and learned something totally new," Strong said after winning the competition. Strong originally was calling the trick the "Bulletproof Tiger" but changed the name this week to the "Jack."
"I named it the 'Jack' because I think in years to come, when it starts to get thrown out in freestyle runs, people are going to be able to combo off it," Strong said. "I'm just stoked, for real, to get another gold medal."
Strong appeared completely confident, going into his first run without a jersey and without some of his usual upper-body armor. The night was full of big tricks and big firsts. Higashino broke out a new variation of the Rock Solid backflip he unveiled Thursday on his way to winning Moto X Freestyle gold. Higashino wasn't immediately available for comment after the event Friday; after winning the silver medal, he broke out a diamond, proposing to his girlfriend on the spot. (She said yes.)
Sinclair landed a clean double backflip on his first run, a trick that has brought him both triumph and tragedy over the past few years. He originally had planned to bring a no-handed variation of the double to the Best Trick contest, but he had been under-rotating it in practice over his foam pit and, with his wife six months pregnant, opted out of trying it in his second run.
"I wasn't going to do X Games this year without the new variation, but I got the invite and I thought, 'Well, I've got the double flip, some other people might make mistakes ...' and it ended me up on the box again," Sinclair said. "I didn't think that was going to happen, because of the progression of the tricks these days."
French rider Thomas Pages landed a body varial to no-footed can-can, finishing just off the podium in fourth place, ahead of Australian rider Clinton Moore, who landed a body varial to heel clicker in his first run, then crashed on an attempt at the 720 that took Travis Pastrana out in 2011. American rider Kyle Loza was injured in a bike flip attempt in his first run and didn't take his second run, after some soul searching on the deck. And Bruce Cook attempted a Rock Solid backflip variation in his first run but crashed out and did not return for his second attempt.