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X Games Drops Freestyle MX Best Trick Competition

Copyright Stefan Krause

Following the recent tragic death of Caleb Moore, X Games has announced the discontinuation of both Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick.  Here is the official word from the X Games site:

The Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick events at X Games are being discontinued, ESPN announced Tuesday.

The decision to discontinue the Best Trick events follows, but is not directly tied to, an investigation into the death of Snowmobile Best Trick competitor Caleb Moore in January, according to an ESPN spokesman.

Moore died of head and heart injuries sustained during the Snowmobile Freestyle competition at X Games Aspen 2013, where he under-rotated a backflip attempt and crumpled under the weight of his tumbling snowmobile. A Freestyle Snowmobile demonstration previously scheduled for next week at X Games Tignes in France had previously been canceled a month before Tuesday’s announcement.

“Moto X Best Trick and Snowmobile Best Trick were not dropped in response to what happened in Aspen,” an ESPN spokesman said. “This decision was under consideration before Aspen, and, in fact, our review of Snowmobile Freestyle continues.”

ESPN released a statement saying, “This change reflects our decision to focus on motor sports disciplines which feature athletes who also compete in multiple, world-class competitions [e.g., professional events and tours] reflecting the highest degree of athlete participation, competitive development and the global nature of our X Games franchise. Over the past 18 years we have made more than 60 changes to our competition lineups at X Games events to capture the evolution of the sport and these continue that growth.”

The Moto X Best Trick competition at X Games has driven progression in action sports since 2001, when Mike Jones became the first to land a trick on snow where the rider gets inverted, kicking his feet high in the air while hanging on to his handlebars (known to competitors as the “Kiss of Death”) at Winter X Games in Mount Snow, Vt. Travis Pastrana electrified the audience inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2006 with the first-ever double backflip, Kyle Loza won gold in 2009 with his “Electric Doom” body varial, and Australian rider Jackson “Jacko” Strong brought the first front flip in 2011.

“Best trick was my favorite event both as a competitor and a spectator,” said Pastrana, an 11-time X Games gold medalist who won Moto X Best Trick at X Games Los Angeles in 2006. “It was a staple of progression in FMX but also the most risky part of it. A lot of athletes would cross from other disciplines or learn a special skill specifically for best trick. Usually these athletes were capable of landing their trick in a foam pit or on special set up but under pressure, they rarely did which added to the dangerousness of it. Either way I was a fan of this event and will be sad to see it go.”

Yet it’s also been one of the most dangerous events from the beginning. Carey Hart crashed a backflip attempt during the event at X Games 7 in Philadelphia, also in 2001, breaking several bones.

X Games will continue to host freestyle motorsports competition, ESPN said.

“Progression in these sports obviously comes with more risk,” the network said. “Nobody can eliminate risk in its entirety, but what we can do is focus on providing world-class events that are as safe and organized as possible.”

19 Comments

  1. kawzies says:

    Good idea. Now some kids may live longer

  2. kirk66 says:

    It’s not suprising. The mx’ers are great at tricks but the athletes performing them, I believe, think they can do more than the law of physics aloows. I’m certainly happy they nix the Snowmobile freestyle. You simply cannot make a 450lbs machine flip with the ease and accuracy of a mx’er.

  3. SmokinRZ says:

    I grew up in the Evel Knievel era when there was only a handful of people willing to take this risk for money. Now it seems like every kid with an old dirtbike or sport bike is out risking everything for free because they saw some video. I did some pretty stupid stuff myself but I feel sorry for the pressures put on these young kids because the bar is so high. I raced very little because I never could afford it. But now i’m 50 and still ride a lot. I can’t count the number of guys I knew that got hurt and quit. Athis stage i’m thinking it was a blessing i couldn’t afford it.

    • kjazz says:

      Exactly the same for me. I didn’t have the bread to keep up with the racers. But now, at 50, I’m still riding and loving it like I did when I was 15.

      But on the subject of safety etc., all the “high flying” in Supercross/Arenacross and the X-games stuff just leaves me cold. It’s not racing the way racing was back in the beginning. Too much “over the top” showmanship and sponsership and not enough serious go fast (even if the speeds are up, it’s not the same). I just dont dig it. I spent this weekend watching a Texas Cross Country Riders Association race day in North Texas. Now that was some riding/racing. No triple jumps, no stunts, but a whole bunch of riders dealing with nasty natural terrain. Way more entertaining to me.

  4. Norm G. says:

    i was watching when pastrana pulled the double back. it was EPIC and i still remember it vividly, but i suppose the more we push the envelope, the more we become desensitized to the risks involved. such is the human condition.

  5. Tim says:

    I loved watching these events, but as long as they remained, guys would keep pushing the envelope and doing more and more dangerous things. It was probably wise to drop the events.

  6. bmidd says:

    1 Death too late in my opinion. Of course NASCAR cared nothing about death until Daddy Dale hit the wall.

  7. bikerrandy says:

    Glad to hear the extreme stunts are being stopped. This is no way to suggest most MC riders are normal like the public. I applaud those that can do this kind of thing without getting hurt?, but at the same time these kind of stunts are EXTREME and I hope younger riders don’t try to match them.

  8. EZ Mark says:

    Maybe they can give the riders some Hello Kitty panties.

    • Dave Kent says:

      I wouldn’t make a remark like that….unless I could ride like that. Sounds like you’re part of the bloodthirsty masses that willingly pays the big bucks to the promoters who are making a killing off the backs of these young kids. You know, the young kids who will be forgotten, crippled has-beens in a few short years?

      • EZ Mark says:

        I can’t ride like that, and I wouldn’t waste my time watching people who ride at my level. But you can’t put the Genie back in the bottle.
        Face it, noone would have gone to see Sigfield and Roy if they would have used house cats.

        • HalfBaked says:

          How do you figure the riders have pussyed out on this when ESPN is the one that cancelled the event.

  9. Dave Kent says:

    Glad to see its demise. I get tired of watching the videos constantly running at the parts counter showing these feats that us mere mortal can never aspire to (I’m not denying they’re talented and fearless). I just prefer the simpler days when the wall behind the parts guy got you a glimpse of the Norton Girl or “meeting the nicest people on a Honda”.

    • MGNorge says:

      Sometimes I get a feeling for the old days myself, somehow they seemed simpler and more “honest”. The world does change doesn’t it? We’re bombarded every day of images brought to us sometimes just seconds after they occur. Everything is in your face and right now! When I was a kid and first riding I suppose the most death-defying feats were performed by Evel Knievel and others like him.
      I remember going down to the Honda shop and gazing at all the wonderful machinery and how much fun it would be to ride them. Posters on the walls were of idyllic settings of riders and their bikes. But spectators at events want more and more from their entrance money and promoters are more than happy to oblige and take their money..until there’s a tragedy. Then things get reeled back in a notch or two until someone opens themselves up to the next death defying stunt. I suppose it’s in our nature, we must all have Roman blood in us I guess?

      • Dave Kent says:

        Well said. Everything that is marketed toward spectators ends up as a bastardized charachiture of what it once was. Motorcross is a perfect example. My favorite memories are my Dad taking me to the big race on Saturday at the local track, which covered an area of about 5 square miles. This required packing a lunch the night before so we could arrive early enough to hike to our favorite corner or jump and sit within 20 feet of it. Those jumps BTW, involved speeds of 60mph and heights of 5 feet, not squirts of third gear and heights of 60 feet. It was mud on our boots, avoiding sitting in poison ivy, and finding a tree to pee behind. We were PART of the event. I wouldn’t pay 25% of the gate they charge today to sit in a chair a hundred yards away and watch little miniature motorcycles buzzing all over each other while I’m passing a $20 bill to the beer vendor for the guy next to me to buy his $7.00 warm beer, then passing his change back to him. Might as well be a at ball game.

        • Dave says:

          Outdoor MX has not changed much from what you describe and it’s still a very long season.

          • Dave Kent says:

            True, but since the advent of arenacross, the number of old school MX tracks has decreased dramatically. Of course, it’s not all the promoters’ fault. Real estate development and liability issues took their chunk out also.

          • Dave says:

            I think it’s almost completely the latter. Arenacross and Supercross aren’t regularly available for the majority of riders. Bikes continue to get more expensive and kids have AMAZING video games available to them. Easy (if poor) choice for lots of parents.

          • Dave Kent says:

            Yeah, that’s the tragedy of being a kid in today’s world. They have precious few oppportunities to participate in the physical activies that guys my age took for granted. What we did in a farmer’s field every day after school now involves loading up, travelling 50 miles and paying someone for the privelidge, but only after signing all the liability waivers. I guess with all that hassle, I might have ended up a video couch potato too.