Australia's own Vince Byron is one of a very small but dedicated group of BMXers that enters the X Games arena to compete in not one, but two of the most difficult BMX disciplines at X Games Los Angeles -- Vert and Big Air. Alongside Zack Warden, Steve McCann and Chad Kagy, Byron, 22, is pulling double duty all week long in L.A. Recently, we caught up with Byron to discuss the path he took to arrive at X Games, as well as his thoughts on the current crop of Vert and Big Air competitors. Here's Vinny.
ESPN.com: Congrats on making the invite list to compete for Vert, Big Air and Park at X Games 18 in Los Angeles this month, which one are you most excited to compete in?
Byron: I think I'm most excited for Vert but Big Air is close behind. I am pretty confident in vert and what I want to bring, but as for Big Air, I think it's anyone's game. We all might have big plans but the ramp and contest sometimes has its own as well.
Who do you feel is your biggest threat?
Of course I'm going to have to say Jamie [Bestwick] just because of his history of wins. But Chad [Kagy], Steve [McCann] and Simon [Tabron] are always up there. They'll bring the heat when they have to and I'm sure they won't disappoint this year.
How did you progress so fast at riding? Did you ride a lot of foam pits and resi in Australian?
I've been riding since I was about 13. I competed in amateur and pro comps in Australia for a few years, and then made it to the US for the first time when I was 18. Originally I'm a park rider and I began to ride vert when I was around 17. I think I just put in a good amount of time into both park and vert when a lot of my mates would be on park and dirt. It was difficult in the beginning, with not a lot of vert ramps around and not many who were keen to ride with me but I had some help from other Aussies like Tim Wood. That definitely gave me a kick-start to progressing on vert faster.
X Games announced early this year that they will expand to six global events for 2013. What were your thoughts when you first heard about that?
Yeah, I'm definitely excited for X Games to be going global. I hope it really takes action sports to a bigger level that's world recognized. It upsets me to see our sports go by the wayside because they're not conventional or traditional like baseball or soccer. I think this can really help our sports and hopefully get a lot more people involved globally, so that one day what we do will also be an option for kids growing up wanting to get active.
The MegaRamp at X Games 18 will have just one extra wide take-off lip at 55-feet. What do you think about that?
That sounds pretty good to me. I think people will feel better about sending new tricks on just a single ramp whereas in the past it's always a decision on what ramp you want to hit because there is an automatic points difference on the ramp you choose. As for myself I think 55-feet should be fairly comfortable and fun to ride.
You're from Australia but spend a lot of your time at Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania. Do you feel the need to visit there often to keep up with your vert riding or do you just enjoy riding with everyone there and living at Camp?
Well, I currently am living in Greenville, N.C. where I share a house with some mates who also ride. We have a good scene here between Mirra's warehouse, the Unit and Mike Mancuso's backyard vert ramp as well. My housemates and me also have a little setup in our yard with some ledges, rails and ramps. I love to go up to Woodward when I can, just to ride with some different people, different things as well as the vert ramp having a foam pit so I can try whatever I want to learn there. Camp is always a fun place to be and the kids there remind me of when I was growing up riding so I try to help them whenever I can.
When do I get my invite for rally?
Anything else you would like to say before X Games Los Angeles?
When do I get my invite for rally? I've seen a bunch of guys come out of motocross, BMX and skating transition over to Rally -- it looks like heaps of fun. Maybe I can sneak in there and they won't notice.