Summer X Games 2012: Breaking Down Top 10 Competitions

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2012

Summer X Games 2012: Breaking Down Top 10 Competitions

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    The 2012 Summer X Games will feature several blockbuster events. Each carries their own unique and exciting qualities.

    The X Games are all about adrenaline, excitement and breathtaking stunts. The death-defying feats and the courage of these athletes is unparalleled. It gives their respective sports unmatched respect.

    Festivities kickoff on Thursday, June 28 and go through Sunday, July 1. With action rapidly approaching, there's no better time than now to breakdown this year's 10 best events.

    Let's take a look.

     

    *For complete viewing information, check out espn.com.

Skateboard Big Air

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    Two Brazilians, Sandro Dias and Bob Burnquist, will contend for Big Air gold this year, but they won't be alone. A handful of other riders will try to prove their mettle as well.

    Burnquist is a skateboarding veteran and his accomplishments are nearly unparalleled. He's proven his hang time before (landed 900 on Big Air quarterpipe), but he's another year older.

    Dias has six career X Games medals. His powerful and confident style gives him a chance to win any event. He isn't afraid to go for it and he will try to prove himself as Brazil's best participant.

    Elliot Sloan is talented and he's won an X Games bronze medal before (2010), but he's coming off an injury. If he can find his form, he could find himself on the medal podium.

    Then you have Mitchie Brusco. At 15, Brusco is the X Games' youngest participant. He's young and tiny (5'1''), but he's one of two people to ever land a 900 in a big air quarterpipe competition. Seeing how he handles the spotlight will be worth watching all by itself.

    Young and old participants will all fight for X Games glory and this event should be extremely competitive.

Moto X Freestyle

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    Nate Adams and Adam Jones are both decorated X Games performers looking to add to their reputation in this year's Moto X Freestyle event.

    Adams has won six career freestyle medals. He's extremely confident and his experience gives him the chance to land tricks other riders may not. He's creative and he always seems to add a new trick every year.

    Jones is a four-time X Games medalist. He's arguably the most innovative athlete in the entire extreme sports spectrum. He invents tricks on a regular basis and it's always worth seeing what he will try next.

    Expect Jones and Adams to provide plenty of fireworks.

    Andre Villa isn't experienced in Moto X Freestyle, but he performed very well at the 2010 Red Bull X-Fighters series. He uses a calculated style to carefully pick his way through a solid routine.

    If someone is going to challenge Jones and Adams, Villa would be my bet.

BMX Street

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    Garrett Reynolds is BMX Street's main attraction. He has a devastating bag of tricks and smooth transitions at all times.

    Reynolds has won three straight gold medals and he's won the NORA Cup award as the best street rider for three years running. He's unrivaled in this area and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.

    2009 silver medalist Ty Morrow could challenge Reynolds. He lacks Reynolds' grace, but his powerful style can dominate a competition. He's capable of landing big tricks but he has to be more consistent if he wants to get to the podium.

    But Morrow isn't his biggest competition.

    Sean Sexton defeated Reynolds in the 2008 X Games. He's a former bronze medalist with a tantalizing blend of technical quality and versatile tricks.

    One other athlete to watch is Dakota Roche. Roche isn't going to make it to the podium but he could deliver something magnificent. He's inventive, aggressive and rides with it all on the line.

Moto X Step Up

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    Matt Buyten is the hands-down favorite for this year's Step Up competition. He dwarfs the competition with his X Games pedigree and proven skills.

    He's won three gold medals in this event and that includes last year's flawless victory. He knows what it takes to win and his experience gives him the edge over a mediocre field.

    Brian Deegan is experienced, but he dwells mostly in the rally car world now. He will provide some excitement but he is way behind Buyten at this point in his career.

    Mike Mason is a solid rider, but he's more known for his freestyle. The same goes for Ronnie Renner. Todd Potter isn't known for freestyle, but he isn't a Step Up rider either. In Potter's case, his whip credentials could ease his transition into this event.

    So Buyten is mostly on his own. The event will be exciting. These riders reach seemingly-impossible heights as they attempt to clear the bar. Spectators watch their margin of error with eager anticipation.

    There may not be any actual stunts involved but the jump itself is must-watch TV.

Skateboard Park

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    Skateboard Park will include a ton of quality participants.

    Bob Burnquist has won 20 X Games medals, and he's one of four athletes to participate in every X Games. Andy MacDonald is one of the other three, and he's won 21 medals in his X Games career. Both bring expert performances and tactical precision each time they step foot in the park.

    Adding to their experience is Bucky Lasek. Lasek is also participating in the RallyCross event but his skateboarding reputation is esteemed. He's won his fair share of medals, but he doesn't quite measure up to Burnquist and MacDonald.

    Watching three quality youngsters claim their X Games reputation will be more fun than watching the veterans this year.

    Ben Raybourn (19), Pedro Barros (17) and Kevin Kowalski (20) are all extremely inexperienced. But that doesn't work against them. All three are talented, and they enter this year's event with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Look for one of these three to challenge an expected contender.

BMX Park

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    Ryan Nyquist enters BMX Park as the event's most decorated and experienced participant. He has won 13 career X Games medals and he will try to add to that total this year.

    Nyquist will be challenged by several riders.

    Two injury-prone, but talented, stars like Rob Darden and Drew Bezanson will push him in terms of technique and confidence. Their trick repertoire doesn't match Nyquist's, but their precise style does.

    Chase Hawk and Diogo Canina are still too inexperienced to win this event, but they may be the most fun to watch. Both combine a dazzling array of courage, creativity and risk-taking into a flair for the dramatic.

    If I had to pick a dark horse to upset Nyquist, it would be Gary Young. Young is experienced and he's had Park success in the past. He earned bronze medals in 2009 and 2010, but he'll look to improve his standing this year.

Women's Moto X Racing

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    This event starts and ends with Ashley Fiolek. Fiolek is the event's biggest star and the biggest attraction in Women's Moto X racing.

    Fiolek has won gold each of the past two years. She has been recognized as the sport's best performer in 2008 and 2009. If you were to make a safe bet, she is the direction you want to turn.

    Jessica Patterson is Fiolek's biggest competition. She won the 2010 motocross title and has suffered through a career beset with injuries. If she can avoid mistakes, Fiolek will face stiff competition at the top of the leaderboard.

    Sara Price is the name to keep an eye on. She's only 19 years old and that puts her under the radar, but she was named AMA/WMX Rookie of the Year in 2009 and won a bronze medal in last year's X Games. She isn't Fiole's quality yet but she is exciting to watch.

    This event is unique and the talent is there. Expect fierce competition.

RallyCross

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    This event is all about the crossover athlete. Motocross star Travis Pastrana already has a RallyCross reputation, but newcomer-of-sorts Bucky Lasek does not.

    Lasek is one of the skateboard world's biggest stars. He has 13 career X Games medals and he knows what it takes to deliver a major performance. He will make his RallyCross debut this year.

    Pastrana hasn't seen an event he can't conquer and he has himself entered in several events this year. He is an incredibly daring performer with the propensity for "wow" moments.

    Other participants include Tanner Foust (personality on Top Gun television show), Brian Deegan (10 career XG medals) and three-time medalist Ken Block.

    There's certainly star power in this year's field, and this event should catch your attention on more than one occasion.

BMX Big Air

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    The BMX Big Air competition will feature exciting action this year. Eight participants will strive for gold and they will expand their limits to make it happen.

    Chad Kagy and Morgan Wade both deserve your attention here.

    Kagy has experience across the motocross spectrum. His experience makes him fun to watch because he simply knows what works.

    Wade is the risk-taker. He seems to actually sprout wings and fly at times and that's what this event is all about.

    Of course you also have the ultimate veteran, Simon Tabron. He is 38 years old, but his patented 900 is still an unparalleled achievement.

    Young stars Zack Warden and Vince Byron will attempt to stake a foothold in this event by the end of the weekend. They don't have an established reputation, but that could change with one epic jump.

    It's amazing to watch athletes defy the laws of nature and these guys are some of the best.

Moto X Best Trick

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    The Moto X Best Trick competition is arguably the most exciting event included in X Games festivities. The competition will be stiff and each rider will try to bring their own flavor to the event.

    Kyle Loza is the field's most creative performer. He is a three-time gold medalist because of his willingness to take risks and his innovative trick style. He's still the only rider to ever win the competition more than once.

    Challenging Loza will be guys like Thomas Pages (first person to land double-grab backflip), revived Cameron Sinclair (gold medal for best trick in 2010) and young Australian Jackson Strong.

    Loza certainly has his work cut out for him against this year's competition, but his reputation is unrivaled.

    Everyone should tune in to see what these guys will cook up for us this year.