LOS ANGELES -- At long last, Mike Mason has an X Games gold medal. And he beat one of the most successful Moto X competitors in history to get it.
Mason, who'd come up just short in his previous six X Games appearances, edged Nate Adams in a rematch of last year's Speed and Style final Saturday night at the Staples Center. He used his racing background to cross the finish line 2.8 seconds ahead of Adams and overcome a 1.33-point lead Adams had built on the jumps.
"It was perfect," Mason said. "I wanted to go up against Nate again and try and win it. You want to have the hardest guy in there."
Adams certainly qualifies, though he's still far from full strength after a shoulder injury wiped out most of his last year of competition. Since sweeping the Freestyle and Speed and Style gold medals last year, he's struggled to regain the form that made him the most consistent rider in the world. Still, by earning silver Saturday, he tied Travis Pastrana for the most Moto X medals in X Games history with 13.
Mason grabbed the holeshot down the ramp and gradually built his lead throughout the four-lap race, sticking his tricks in the process. When he landed a huge Holy Grab and Adams missed his no-handed backflip off the final jump, the gold was all but his. He won 92.8 to 91.33.
For Adams, this week's competitions (he took fourth in Freestyle on Thursday night) were his first in 10 months, and he was happy just to be in action. "The shoulder is not close to 100 percent," he said. "I just kind of learned how to ride around the injury. The accomplishment is that two months ago, I was sitting on the couch, not riding and not knowing if I would have my sponsors after this weekend. So to be able to come here and prove to myself, first and foremost, that I can still ride and be the person I used to be on a bike -- it's a really personal thing for me."
Veteran Edgar "ET" Torronteras of Spain crashed hard in his semifinal heat as he and Adams soared through side-by-side backflips. He was taken off via stretcher, leaving Ronnie Faisst to claim an uncontested bronze medal -- his third straight in Speed and Style.
Just one heat prior, Torronteras had eliminated motocross pioneer Carey Hart, who was making his farewell X Games appearance 11 years after he first competed.
"Obviously, I would've hoped to advance," Hart said, "but I had so much fun and I enjoyed every step of the way, from autograph signings to practice with the guys to talking a bunch of smack between sessions. That's the stuff I'm going to miss. It's awesome being out there riding, but I'm in one piece and I'm going to have a beer with my daughter and wife."Full Results »