With the 2012 edition of the Summer X Games kicking off Thursday, June 28 in Los Angeles, the excitement over the 18th installment of the annual event is through the roof.
To use an X Games industry term; folks are stoked.
As great as this time of the year is, many fans were crushed when the news came across the wire that action sports legend Shaun White would not be participating, but a star like Travis Pastrana has the power to make 2012 amazing.
Add in all the unique events and contestants, and this year's Summer X Games have the potential to be the wildest in history. Buckle up folks, this is bound to be an intense ride!
The following names will be at the forefront of the events and should be watched for as X Games 18 approaches. If you like action, you've come to the right place.
Previous X Games Experience: 11-time gold medalist in Rally Cars and Motor Cross
Events Entered in 2012: Rally Car RallyCross, Moto X Best Trick
What to Expect: With enough X Games experience to trump anyone in the competition this year, Pastrana has helped spread the appeal of the annual events with his multi-sport success.
If Pastrana wants to take home the gold medal in RallyCross and/or Moto X Best Trick, he will have to earn it against the stiffest competition he has ever faced.
Previous X Games Experience: No gold medals (best finish was second at Best Trick in 2002)
Events Entered in 2012: Moto X Speed & Style
What to Expect: Carey Hart is one of the originals of the Moto X revolution, but it’s the publicity he has brought the sport through off-track ventures that has cemented his legacy as an all-time great.
With a big return to X Games 18 for the Moto X Speed & Style, Hart is coming back to show off some of that swagger that made him a serious favorite at previous X Games.
Previous X Games Experience: 15 medals (seven gold) in skateboard Vert, Vert Double, Big Air and Vert Best Trick
Events Entered in 2012: Skateboard Vert
What to Expect: Pierre-Luc Gagnon is one of the true veterans of the X Games and brings a great show to the crowd every time his name is called. He is a true athlete that embodies what the games are all about.
There is no person happier about Shawn White’s departure from the X Games roster than Gagnon, though.
After winning Skateboard Vert three straight years, it was White that stole the throne in 2011. PLG wants it back.
Previous X Games Experience: Three-time gold medalist in BMX Street
Events Entered in 2012: BMX Street, BMX Park
What to Expect: Young BMX star Garrett Reynolds has been the definition of feast or famine in his history at the X-Games. In his last five events, Reynolds has either won or finished worse than tenth.
With Reynolds going for two events this year (BMX Street and BMX Park), there will be high pressure on the 21-year-old star. Good thing that’s when he’s at his best.
Previous X Games Experience: Three gold medals, 20 top-5 finishes over a number of events
Events Entered in 2012: Moto X Step Up, Rally Car RallyCross
What to Expect: Brian Deegan is the Swiss Army knife of the X Games. With a history of performing in every event from RallyCross to snowboarding, Deegan not only does multiple Summer X Games events, he is a winter man as well!
While Deegan hasn’t won it yet, he has been knocking on the door of a gold medal for Moto X Step Up for years. This will finally be his year.
Previous X Games Experience: Seven-time skateboard gold medalist
Events Entered in 2012: Skateboard Big Air, Skateboard Park, Skateboard Vert
What to Expect: Veteran skater Bob Burnquist has been participating in X-Games since 1995 and has been a force since Day 1. With seven gold medals, no one can doubt his talent.
This year Burnquist will bring his talents to my favorite event of them all; Skateboard Big Air. With an arsenal of tricks that would make Tony Hawk blush, there is no doubt that this year’s big air competition will be Burnquist’s to lose.
Previous X Games Experience: Two-time gold medalist in RallyCross
Events Entered in 2012: Rally Car RallyCross
What to Expect: Tanner Foust is RallyCross. While Travis Pastrana is the bigger name, Foust is a legitimate threat to steal the show during the event.
After finishing fourth—the worst he has ever finished since joining the event in 2006—Foust and the sizable chip on his shoulder will be ready to go when his name is called. I expect big things from the racing star at X Games 18.
Previous X Games Experience: Defending 2011 Skateboard Street champ
Events Entered in 2012: Skateboard Street, Skateboard Real Street
What to Expect: While Nyjah Huston is only 17 years old, he is already a veteran of the street portion of the X Games. With a second place finish in 2010 and a win last year, Huston is looking to prove his dominance as the best street skater in America.
If you like skateboarding at all, Huston is the man to watch.
Previous X Games Experience: Three-time gold medalist in Moto X Freestyle and Moto X Speed & Style
Events Entered in 2012: Moto X Freestyle, Moto X Speed & Style
What to Expect: The defending champion of both Moto X Freestyle and Moto X Speed & Style, Nate Adams is the best thing on a dirt bike going right now. While it took ten years to perform the Moto X competition sweep, Adams has no plans of relinquishing his titles
The stiffer completion won’t make his job easier, but Adams is red hot. There is little doubt that he will walk away this year as the winning racer.
Previous X Games Experience: 10-time gold medalist in BMX Vert
Events Entered in 2012: BMX Vert
What to Expect: Pennsylvania native Jamie Bestwick is one of the legends in BMX Vert. With 17 X Games competitions under his belt, and five straight years of winning the gold medal, there is no reason to think Bestwick won’t win BMX Vert again.
The BMX legend will indeed win his sixth gold medal in a row this year.