LOS ANGELES -- One year ago, Steve McCann won a dramatic BMX Big Air gold medal on the final run of the competition. Sunday night under a setting sun, he repeated that feat with virtually identical tricks, clinching victory after he'd crashed on each of his first two runs.
McCann won with a no-handed double front flip over the 64-foot gap into a 16-foot, 4-inch double tailwhip on the quarterpipe. He overtook Zack Warden by one-third of a point -- 92.33 to 92.00 -- proving once again that giant air trumps more technical tricks on the MegaRamp.
Warden, whose prior best finish in Big Air was seventh, backflipped while flipping his bike in midair over the 64-foot gap -- a trick called the Iron Lotus, which he invented and is the only rider to have landed. He followed that with a triple tailwhip on the quarterpipe, the first ever landed in competition, but he peaked five feet lower than McCann, which made the difference in their scores.
"I seriously wanted to do that run the whole time," said McCann, who added the no-handed element to last year's double front flip. "I was having a hard time with doubles. I went out to Travis Pastrana's foam pit two weeks before this, and they weren't even rotating. So I was pretty nervous the whole time tonight. The no-handed one, as you could tell, I was just hoping it was going to come around. It came around pretty good."
"It's hard out there," said Warden, who failed on all of his Iron Lotus attempts last year. "A lot of people have done double front flips before, but everyone has their own unique thing."
Contrary to last year, which looked more like a ragdoll convention than the sport's premier showcase, Sunday's final featured clean run after clean run. Three-time gold medalist Kevin Robinson returned from a shoulder injury to claim bronze with a big-gap backflip into a 17-foot, 2-inch no-handed flair. And Chad Kagy -- who suffered a broken femur in the same event 11 months ago -- earned fourth place with a backflip tailwhip followed by a flair whip 15 feet out of the pipe. He was one of four riders to score in the 90s.
Anthony Napolitan withdrew from the competition after a hard slam on his first run left him with a concussion.