Jackson Strong of Australia celebrating after landing the 1st front flip in X Games history
The X Games have brought more mainstream attention to extreme sports over the last 17 years in a way that no other event could. Every summer (and winter) ESPN dedicates a certain number of hours over the span of 3-5 days, and shows the best skateboarders, BMX riders, motorcycle riders, etc. competing in a wide range of events that showcase an individual's skills.
What has slowly become the marquee event of the Games is the Moto X Best Trick competition (formerly known as Moto X Big Air), in which the best motocross riders in the world are given 2 attempts to take off from a dirt covered ramp that usually sends them more than 60 feet in the air. A panel of judges who are never shown on camera evaluates the style, trick difficulty, and originality of the jump, scoring each jump on a 100-point scale. Each rider's highest single-jump score is the one that is used. Best score wins gold.
Here's an explanation on the evolution of the Best Trick competition, and 3 never before-landed tricks that, if landed, would change Moto X Freestyle riding forever:
Mike Metzger completing a back flip at the 2002 X Games
Before 2001, nobody had ever attempted even a single back flip at the X Games. That all changed in 2001 when Carey Hart attempted to land the 1st back flip at the Games, but wound up bailing in mid-air, free falling 45 feet to the ground below, breaking his ribs, bones in his feet, and bruising his tailbone. A year later, "The Godfather" Mike Metzger won gold with the 1st landed back flip at the X Games. Hart, on his one and only attempt, landed the trick that had almost killed him the year before, taking home the silver medal. In 2003, Brian Deegan won gold with a 360, while many other riders went with back flip variation tricks. In 2004, Chuck Carothers won with a body varial, while, again, many other riders went with back flip variation tricks. In 2006, Travis Pastrana decided he was fed up with single back flips and threw down a double back flip, winning gold with a still-record 98.60 score. In 2008, Jim DeChamp tried the 1st ever front flip at the X Games, but bailed mid-air, and broke his back on the landing. In 2010, Cameron Sinclair of Australia won gold with a double back flip, after spending the previous year recovering from a crash in Madrid Spain, where had had under rotated on a double back flip, breaking his shoulder and cheek bone, rupturing his liver and knocking himself unconscious. He went to therapy to learn to how to walk and ride again, completing the comeback when he landed the trick at the Games. Last week, 19 year old Jackson Strong of Australia won gold with the 1st-ever front flip landed in competition. Sinclair took silver with a nac-nac double back flip, the 1st time a double back flip variation had been landed, and attempted at the X Games.
Moving on to the tricks of the future:
Paris Rosen, one of six men who have attempted a front flip at the X Games
The first back flip was attempted in 2001 and the first one successfully completed was a year later. The first double back flip attempted and successfully completed was in 2006. The 1st front flip was attempted in 2008, and the 1st one landed was 2011. As the years go on, so has the difficulty of the tricks. Now, it's hard to determine what's easier, flipping backwards two times or flipping forward one time on a 200+ lb. motorcycle. What is a scientific fact is that the double back flip is old news, and in the world of extreme, new is always better.
My prediction is that it will be 2-3 years before we see someone attempt a double front flip at the X Games, and an additional year before it is landed.
Charles Pages of France, one of six men who have attempted a front flip
While the double front flip may be a few years down the road, a front flip variation trick may very well be seen next year. A year after Mike Metzger landed the 1st front flip in X Games history, many of the riders in the Best Trick competition were attempting variations on the trick, such as no-handed flips, superman seat grab flips, Indian air flips, etc. The double back flip variation took longer, as it took 5 years to land a double back flip variation, as Cam Sinclair landed a nac-nac double back flip, but the trick was still only good enough for silver to Strong's front flip gold. Mark Monea tried a no-handed front flip last week not 5 minutes after Strong landed his front flip, going a bit off axis and crashing. All Best Trick competitors now have a whole year to practice for next year, and I predict right now, that someone will land a front flip variation trick next year and win gold with it.
Robbie Maddison, the last man to land a body varial at the X Games
This is a trick I've had on my mind ever since I saw Chuck Carothers land his body varial back in 2004, the first one ever landed at the X Games. By this point, an ordinary back flip wasn't going to win gold unless you were able to land the trick standing on the seat like it was a surf board. This trick would be INCREDIBLY dangerous because the rider would be doing a 360 while flipping upside down. A trick like this would be SO dangerous, and that's what would make it so exciting. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. With other tricks, you can crash and have it be no big deal. This trick would have to be executed to perfection, or any crash WOULD be a big deal.
This trick is much harder to envision a time table for when it might be attempted, because I'm sure nobody's ever thought of doing it. But the day that somebody decided they're crazy enough to try it, should they land it, I, as well as the millions of fans who watch the X Games every year, will be standing and applauding.