X-Games 17 is right around the corner and for all the exhaust about rider selection, formats and track design from the forums and emails I get- I think we are in for a really good one this year. Most of the best riders are signed on, the courses are being built and it is almost go time!
The rider selection process came under fire again, as it always will, when it was announced that there will be eight riders in FMX with no qualifiers. The eight they picked are top notch (see them at the EXPN site) and I think they will put on an awesome show. The other events have some eyebrow raisers as in Best Whip and Speed and Style, and Step up is solid. Just about everyone is healthy this year and those that aren’t 100% are putting things together when the adrenaline hits and the bikes are fired up. Torres and Jones have sore legs; Maddo has had some bruising diggers in the last two months and Nate Adams Tweeted out a broken finger a few weeks ago. Got to wonder how much of the injury talk is just psyche-outs for their competition and how much is real.
Course wise- lots of complaints there. The setup is pretty simple and will not reward riders for railing berms. As far as creativity goes-it will be hard to be original in ramp picks but I believe it will pay dividends for those who flow well. The X-Games Freestyle track will allow the riders to showcase how big they can go on their tricks so extension will matter. Cleanliness in the trick will matter more too. Riders are going to need to concentrate on keeping legs together, straight or bent as the trick demands. A more complex course tests riders in different ways, but those courses take a lot longer to learn, and that can take away from the tricks.
So what do you say we get down to business and start picking our winners? If you want to try-send your winners via the comments section and I will take the most correct and give them a pair of Boost Mobile Headphones. Winner will be announced by next Monday. Here are mine…
Step-Up Thursday July 28th 7-8pm EST
1-Matt Buyten-SMP team rider defending Gold. 3x gold in LA and 6x for X around the globe. Besides, we are growing “Mustaches for Matt” on the tour bus. These things itch-win it B-10
2-Ronnie Renner- Red Bull KTM rider is always in the hunt.
3-Myles Richmond- Has done this before-but I am looking for big things for the quiet-man.
Best Whip Thursday July 28th 8:45-9pm EST
1-Jarryd McNeil-Aussie with a killer whip. Watch his Monster Energy Peep by DirtShark in our video section. This is crowd judged so he needs to really impress.
2-Todd Potter- Metal Mulisha rider has been the man to beat. I think about 20% of his fan-texted votes are more about his popularity and dashing good looks than his whip. But he can always pull one out if needed. Will the fans be there again for the third year straight though?
3-Josh Hansen- I really like Lil’ Hanny as a MX racer and he can get uber-stylish. He is pretty fresh mentally which makes him a threat at anything he does.
Best Trick Thursday July 28th 9:15-10pm EST
1-Robbie Maddison- Double Volt with a variation? If so- this is a winner.
2-Mark Monea- His Carry-on could be the winner with a combo or with failure by Maddo. Pretty sick and hope he pulls it. I am thinking of the tricks we know about- this is most likely to yard sale!
3-Travis Pastrana- First it was a Triple Backflip, then 720 Flatspins, then both with variations. TP has a lot of important stuff on his plate this weekend. Whatever he does will be big, but I think we may see some restraint from him for the first time ever.
Freestyle Motocross Friday July 29th 7-9:15pm EST
1-Nate Adams- He is looking really good in comps this year. His style is much better than before and our spy said he is hitting huge tricks with gnarly extension.
2-Travis Pastrana- This is where he excels. If anyone can find some flow on this course it is him. Plus a 720 AND a Double Back in one run-that could smoke Adams.
3-Andre Villa- At the beginning of the year I picked him for the “it” rider of 2011-and I still believe that. I just think it will be on the Red Bull X-Fighters stage, not here.
Speed and Style Saturday July 30th 11pm-12am EST
1-Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg- This guy has something to prove and this is the sport where he will do it this weekend. He could sneak in on a Best Whip top three though.
2-Nate Adams- He has learned enough moto practicing for that elusive SX race and we know he can trick.
3-Mike Mason-Mase could come in and win this thing if the other two make a mistake. S&S is all about no mistakes any way since the motos are so short. If Mason can be perfect, he won’t need to be fastest maybe.
Rally Sunday July 31st
Not moto, but still has some moto guys like the General Brian Deegan from the Metal Mulisha and Travis Pastrana. I pick Ken Block, TP and Tanner Foust in that order- with Dave Mirra coming in fourth.
Those are mine- show me yours. Last call for picks will be Thursday July 28th at noon PST!!!