X Games competitions kickoff Thursday at downtown Austin halfpipe
By Dave Doolittle
Editor’s note: This article was originally published June 5, 2014
Thursday marks the start of four days of high-flying tricks, stunts and speed as the X Games get under way for the first time in Austin.
The competitions kick off at a large halfpipe built smack in the middle of Congress Avenue at 10th Street with skateboard and BMX vert.
The other three days of competition – BMX, skateboard, motocross, rally and stadium super trucks racing – will be held at Circuit of the Americas in Southeast Austin.
The events downtown begin at 5 p.m. with a demo from skateboard legend and X Games commentator Tony Hawk and several other skateboard and BMX riders, including Mat Hoffman, Neal Hendrix and Kevin Robinson.
“We’ll be doing some choreography, the kind of stuff you don’t see in competition, with people actually working together to do routines and something different and mostly to show that I’m still skating, I guess, for me,” Hawk said this week with a laugh.
The ramp is a halfpipe made of wood and Skatelite, a durable paper-composite material. It is 60 feet wide with 11.5-foot transitions and 2 feet of vertical drop.
Skateboard practice will be held from about 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and the competition begins soon after.
The first round will feature 12 skaters making two runs each that will be judged on execution, degree of difficulty, continuity, originality and style, height and use of the ramp. The top six will advance to the final, where they will make three runs.
Athletes expected to compete include Bucky Lasek, who took a gold-medal sweep at all four X Games vert competitions last year, and young guns Mitchie Bruscoe and Tom Schaar.
Both Hawk and his X Games co-commentator Corbin Harris said to watch out for Bruscoe and Schaar this year.
“One of those guys is going to push something new there,” Hawk said.
There is only one round in the BMX vert competition, where eight riders will make two runs, with their best score counting toward the final ranking.
Like the skateboard competition, BMX competitors will be judged on execution, difficulty, originality, height and use of the ramp.
Competitors lining up to take gold this year include British-born Jamie Bestwick, who already has 11 golds, including a record eight straight starting in 2007.
Skateboard vert round one will be shown on ESPN3, and the skateboard and BMX finals will air on ESPN from 8 to 10 p.m.
Admission to the downtown events is free, and there will also be music, food and drink vendors and more.
Tickets for the rest of the events at Circuit of the Americas are still on sale.
The 1,400-acre site, which has hosted Formula One, MotoGP and other global series as well as concerts, has been transformed into an X Games festival, complete with ramps, courses and other competition setups, multiple themed “villages,” concerts and more.