Place: Mission Beach, San Diego, California.
242 850 spectators showed up to wath the 1998 X-Games.
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: Firstly we should set the scene. San Diego's Mission Beach, 90 degrees and climbing, a cool sea breeze and white sand beneath your feet. Sounds perfect doesn't it ? Not! OK so let's add an 11.5ft tall 6Oft wide vert ramp with roll-ins 6ft above the coping, the 1998 BS comp street course but with heaps more space, a massive wallride, a hip and spine section, a dirt jump area with three side-by-side sections (a small 6-pack on the right, medium 6-pack in the middle, and a 4-pack on the left, catering to all tastes, but more importantly creating some big transfer opportunities and a flatland area that is well, flat. Combine all this with 110 of the World's best riders, 200.000 spectators, 50ft television screens and a 200ft tall snowboard slope and you've got one hell of a contest.
As we all know, the X Games aren't just freestyle -you've got sky-surfing, climbing, barefoot water jumping, wakeboard, street luge, downhill skateboarding, downhill in-lining, aggressive in-line, street skateboarding, street in-line, vert skateboarding, and snowboarding. But out of all of these different sports, freestyle is by far the most popular of the lot. Of the 200.000 people attending, 170.000 of them watched one form of bicycle freestyle or arother, and in terms of television, ESPN informed us that the BMX contests go out to 240 million America homes on a variety of networks, not to mention 142 countries in 74 different languages. It seems that Britain is sadly lacking behind in terms of support for America's favourite alternative sport.
|10000$ for first place.
Dave Mirra huge icepick on the big subbox.
Ryan Nyquist double barspin backflip. It was the first time he has ever let the bars spin a full two rotations before catching the bars. (He has caught the bars and then spun them again for a double barspin in a backflip a couple of times before, though.) ... but ended fourth.
Dave Voelker did a sick backflip attempt off an elevated launch ramp.
Ron Kimler got a flat tyre in the middle of a good run but didn't get time to fix it since he was too far into his run. When Kimler heard he won't get extra time, he got on the top of a box jump, dropped his pants, and mooned everyone in the audience. After that, he looked to the judges tower and let the middle finger fly.
Jason Enns did a toothpick over the spine and back.
John Parker and Paul Buchanan were both doing no footed cancan to tailwhips.
Rob Nolli tried a no-handed flip over the spine.
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: The first contest to take pace was street. The set-up really favoured ramp riders, offering a huge quarterpipe and jumpbox and a multitude of lines. It is tough enough to get to the X Games but qualifying to the final is tougher still, as only ten out of the 30 invited riders made it through. Kevin Gutierrez and Rob 'Sarge' Sigaty rounded out the final for GT using all manner of technicality for 10th and 9th places respectively. Dave Osato took 8th for Schwinn with another GT rider Rob Nolli, taking 7th with a bunch of loops and tailwhips, but Rob also flipped the spine landing on his back. 6th place west to transfer king Ron Kimler who looked super good all over the course, but seemed to suffer for his lack of vert skills. A much hyped Dave Voelker spun like billlio on 720's and 540's in what ESPN said would be his last contest ever, but crashes kept him back in 5th. Ryan Nyquist put in a really solid run spinning his bars during 360s (1-to-1-to-1 truckdriver), flips (double barspin backflip) and transfers and genuinely using the whole course with completely smooth style. Third went to DMC who put in his usual variety of flips, flairs end barspin techno. During his run Dennis crashed pretty hard when a manual transfer from quarter to the top of the wallride to quarter didn't quite make the last ramp, sending him to flat bottom from 12ft up. Second place was Jay Miron with some of the biggest tricks of the day. Aside from rails, transfers and spine stuff, he pulled a big no-handed flip, a perfect tailwhip 360 and the biggest downside footplant known to man on top of the 13ft tall wallride. The competition for first place was really close, but Dave Mirra bagged it with tricks like huge indian 360, opposite side rail, multiple barspins, the biggest transfers and the biggest style. Mirra's week had begun.
Dave Freimuth wallride at the X-Games on the cover. Photo by Steve Buddendeck.
STREET 1.Dave Mirra 2.Jay Miron 3.Dennis McCoy 4.Ryan Nyquist 5.Dave Voelker 6.Rob Nolli 7.Dave Osato 8.Rob Sigaty 9.Kevin Gutierrez 10.Jimmy Walker... 20.Ron Kimler
|5000$ for first place.Day Smith beat Alex Jumelin in a run-off for tenth place.
Phil Dolan spun the smoothest spastic hitchikers in practice but couldn't hold it together in the finals.
Andrew Faris tried his backpacker to G-turn to switch feet hitchiker three times unsuccesfully.
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: There were 30 riders all dying to qualify for the ten-man final. Our hopes were resting on Animal's Phil Dolan, who missed the practice to go skydiving. After an extremely heated qualifier the judges singled out their ten men and the finals begun. Day Smith was looking dialled in qualifiers but couldn't really hold it together in the finals and ended up with tenth place. Schwinn man Sean Peters rode real good, although it wasn't reflected in the judges' scores which placed him in ninth, so naturally Sean mooned them all. Phil Dolan kicked area for England placing eighth and giving the top ten a real cosmopolitan feel. The judges gave seventh place to Chad Degroot who wasn't riding his best, probably due to lack of moustache. Dan Rigby rode tight and consistent for sixth, and Jason Brown was fast and clean for fifth. Fourth place went to the 17-yr old Nathan Penonzek and everyone's favourite Finn Martti Kuoppa placed third for Chicco fruit drinks. Martti rode in a full camoflage get up as he was being drafted into the Finnish army for his compulsory service after the contest. Andrew Faris rode super-good as always. A big win has eluded Trevor Meyer in recent months, so his solution was to get his shit together so good that there would be no doubt about who the best rider was, and he rocked the house for first place.
FLAT RESULTS: 1.Trevor Meyer 2.Andrew Faris 3.Martti Kuoppa 4.Nathan Penonzec 5.Jason Brown 6.Dan Rigby 7.Chad DeGroot 8.Phil Dolan 9.Sean Peters 10.Day Smith
Phil Dolan cross-footed hitchiker. Photo by Steve Buddendeck.
fatboy972, www.youtube.com, april 2008: X-Games flatland 1998. Martti Kuoppa, Trevor Meyer, Andrew Faris, Chad DeGroot.
|TJ Lavin qualified in first place but a tailwhip to no footer gone wrong left him in fifth.
T.J. Lavin, Ride BMX UK october 1998: I was the last jumper. All the pressure on me, Brian had just gone and done a big ass 360 transfer to move into first. It was all or nothin'. I had to get like a 92.4. I didn't know that at the time but I knew I had to bust big or it was all over. So I flipped the biggest set they had and tried to tailwhip the last set and crashed. I hadn't crashed for the whole week, I was clean all week long. Double trucks, all kind of tricks and then it all came down to that last tailwhip and I folded. I was laying there, looking at the ground realising that I'd just eaten shit. I was like "Oh well, at least I went down with the ship", that's how it works. I stood up, congratulated Brian of course, but I'll be there next year.
Fuzzy got fourth with transfers and big 360's.
Joey Garcia was doing different truckdriver variations as smooth as possible and it scored him the third place.
A lot of people figured there was no way Brian Foster would win the contest since Ryan Nyquist was pulling multiple truckdrivers and barspin flips at will. But Brian had something else planned.
Brian Foster hit the jump on the far left side and did the biggest, slowest rotating 360 of all time while transfering to the backside of the jump about 15 feet away
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: The qualifiers gave us an insight into what would be required for the final, and variety in the jump section meant that to make the final you needed to be big, technical, and consistent, with a few transfers thrown in for good measure. The qualifiers separated the men from the boys and, by dusk, Mission Beach was packed with enthusiasm and anticipation as the riders took their warm-up jumps. A combination of consistent X-ups, turndowns and 360's took Van Homan to tenth and Chris Doyle to ninth. Chad Kagy got burly with stuff like superman seatgrab barspins, but crashes kept him in eighth. Cory Nastazio looked real good in seventh with a big variety of stuff like no-foot can cans, superman seatgrabs, and even flips mid-pack, while Jay Miron went huge with a clean tailwhip 360 and a big no-handed flip for sixth, TJ Lavin was being hyped by ESPN for the win as the defending champion and you could see that the pressure was on him. A combination of big consistency and silly mistakes left TJ in a disappointing fifth place. He did the biggest indian superman seatgrab I've ever seen though... A repackaged Fuzzy Hall was looking super slick with truckdrivers, double barspins, and the biggest transfers all over the course for a really good fourth place, Fuzzy was stoked. Third went to Joey Garcia who was just back from knee surgery - Joey was probably the most consistent and smooth rider in the contest, as he flowed through every combination of x-ups, barspins and 360's imaginable. The big favourite for first place was Ryan Nyquist, but a crash after a bunch of tricks including a barspin flip, a double truckdriver and the best suicides kept him in second. Brian Foster ended up with the win with transfers in every run, general smoothness, and a huge one-hander one-footer fable 360 over the big set. So it's $10,000 to the man in the Schwinn race jersey.
DIRT RESULTS: 1.Brian Foster 2.Ryan Nyquist 3.Joey Garcia 4.Fuzzy Hall 5.TJ Lavin 6.Jay Miron 7.Cory Natazio 8.Chad Kagy 9.Chris Doyle 10.Van Homan
|Jay Miron did a huge no handed flair and a 540 tailwhip.
Dennis McCoy pulled a perfect 900.
Jamie Bestwick did an alley-oop feeble grind to 270 drop-in and a One handed icepick grind.
Dave Osato tried a 540 canadian nosepick that ended up with him on the flat bottom surrounded by paramedics.
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: If you were in America for the ten-day duration of the X Games and were watching TV, you couldn't have helped but notice the enormous build-up to the Bicycle Stunt Vert event. This was ESPN's Grand Finale. The qualifiers were of a really high standard, with a 20 riders going off for a place in the final, but, as always, ten of them had to go. Some of those ten really deserve a mention. Alex Reinke got his invite a week before, but still rode good with a massive double tailwhip attempt. Eduardo Terreros 'Spanish Fly' to his hombres scared everybody stupid in practice with a lot of big crashes, but held it together in qualifiers with big no-handers and 540's and a good flip. On the first practice day Japanese Seiji Saito was so overwhelmed by everybody's riding that he was too nervous to drop in. I don't know why, because, come qualifiers, he ripped with big no handers, 540's, a perfect flair, and even a one-footed flair attempt. Banzai Jimmy Walker was really unlucky, and kind of got a raw deal. 11ft airs, 540's, and lines all over the ramp should have taken him into the final, but he had to settle for eleventh place.
It's hard to describe just how big the final was, but I'll try. Thirty thousand people, live TV, and the World's top ten vert riders all ready to go off. During practice, WWF Superstar Macho Man Randy Savage turned up with his entourage, much to the delight of all the spectators. Dave Mirra got real excited when Macho Man said that he was Dave's biggest fan on live TV. The riders took their last warm-up runs and the finals were started. Before the riding could begin, the TV people had to warm the crowd up, getting them to cheer the loudest I don't know how the riders on the decks felt to hear this amazing roar, but it made me feel nervous as hell. Could the riders live up to all this hype? Tenth place qualifier Rick Thorne kicked the final off riding to Billy Idol, hitting back to back tricks all over the ramp. Rick was getting an amazing response to the crowd, but then he did chuck a load of t-shirts, hats, and other goodies out to them earlier on. Rick was stoked after two clean runs ending on a perfect flip fakie. Up next was Dave Osato. Dave hit his usual array of airs and tailwhips, nailed the hardest lip tricks such as tailwhip nosepicks and downside toothpick grinds but crashed hard on a 540 Canadian, ending his run. Pat Miller was next, going higher than anybody at 13 or 14 feet. Pat will be the first to tell you that he's not the best at variations, but that didn't matter with the 8h 540 he pulled and the 8ft 900 he should have pulled. I think the only reason he crashed the 900 was that he was no shocked to have got it round. Jason Davies was next, all over the ramp like a rash. He rode big and smooth as usual, and gave it his all. 540's, barspins, tweaked variations, and alley oops all over the place gave him a good chance at top-five. K2's John Parker qualified in ninth place and looked super smooth, not crashing at all. He booted it with an 8ft no-handed 540, 8ft tailwhip, X-up tailwhip, a bunch of lip tricks and some great variations. John rode GOOD. Riding for queen and country was Animal's Simon Tabron. Si qualified in fifth and was riding with a cracked rib obtained in the first run of qualifiers. He hit some of the most technical variations of the contest - one-hand one-foot x-up, one handed rocket x-up - the biggest 540's of the day, all manner of barspin airs (regular, alley-oop, and opposite-air), and ended with a big and barely slid off a 900. Fourth place qualifier Jamie Bestwick was looking good on his Beater-geometry GT, going high and smooth on all manner of tweaked variations from no-handers to a massive topside no foot cancan at 14ft. Jamie rode the contest of his life rising to the massive pressure that was obvious on his face. Rule Britannia! Jay Miron had one of the best contest runs up his sleeve and left everybody's chin on the floor when he unleashed a perfect pedal-to-pedal tailwhip 540. As that wasn't enough, he came back with a 7ft no-handed flair that he barely crashed. Combined with the usual Miron sickness he was looking strong but crashes held him back. Dennis McCoy rode one of his best contests ever and popped back-to-back tricks everywhere. A barspin 540, barspin-270 smith, a 6ft flair,and a perfect 900 is all you need to know. Everyone thought he was the winner, but they hadn't yet seen Dave. Riding last is normally tough but this time it was the toughest. Dave Mirra rolled in for his run shaking his head in an "I've got to follows this?" fashion. He flew around the ramp going opposite, alley-oop, and regular, looking smooth and fast. Dave just kept hitting tricks in all directions, did the biggest flairs, switch-handed 540, suicide double- barspin, and just didn't stop until the buzzer went. It was going to be really close but at the end of the day everybody had ripped and it was probably one of the toughest and best vert contests of all time. Dave Osato ended tenth after his crash; Rick Thorne took a good ninth; Jason Davis scored eighth; Pat Miller was seventh; John Parker stayed in sixth. Jamie Bestwick taking a really strong fifth and behind fourth-place man Jay Miron. ESPN presented medals to the top-three riders - third place Simon Tabron for the BCR, Dennis McCoy in second, and Dave Mirra taking first place for the third time in that week. The only low point of the vert contest was Woody Itson, who for some reason thought Jamie should have won and flipped off the judges. Matt has now banned Woody from all ESPN contests for life, a good image for GT? Not to mention letting Jamie down.
VERT RESULTS: 1.Dave Mirra 2.Dennis McCoy 3.Simon Tabron 4.Jay Miron 5.Jamie Bestwick 6.John Parker 7.Pat Miller 8.Jason Davies 9.Rick Thorne 10.Dave Osato 11.Jimmy Walker
|Jay Miron did a nosepick on Dave Osato's front tire.
Dave Mirra did a tailtap on DMC's back.
Leigh Ramsdell and Rob Sigaty shaved their hair into mullets and ended both of their runs whith flip fakies to flat.
Kevin Robinson and Pat Miller spent one of their entire runs, kung fu fighting on the flat bottom of the ramp.
Simon Tabron and Jimmy Walker did 540 over 540.
Josh Heino got into a peg stall and then dropped in with Ryan Nyquist standing on his rear pegs.
Steve Swope, TWBMX november 2004: In 1998, we were getting ready to start the vert doubles competition, and Mat was trying to get his wife in the venue but they wouldn't give her the right credential. The Director of Competition was in a meeting, so Mat sat in a trailer for 10 or 15 minutes waiting, and he finally got fed up because the comp was about to start and he needed to be there. He kind of barged in and said all they had to do was approve the credential for his wife and he'd be out of there. They wouldn't give the approval, saying that she wasn't a staff member, she was just his wife. So Mat called me up on the radio in front of them and said, 'Hey, Steve, pack everything up, we're leaving.' I've known Mat for so long, so I knew that was his serious voice. So I answered, 'Okay, we'll be out of here in five minutes.' It was literally five minutes before we were supposed to start, with a full TV crew, 40 staff people standing around, a crowd watching... He called me back a few minutes later and said, 'Hang on, I'll be right there; so they gave him the credential. We had an up-and-down relationship with that director.
Pippa Tabron, Ride BMX UK october 1998: Everyone who had qualified for vert had the opportunity to enter vert doubles, and there were night pairs: Kevin Robinson and Pat Miller, Leigh Ramsdell and Rob Sigaty, Rick Thorne and Kevin Gutierrez, Ryan Nyquist and Josh Heino, Simon Tabron and Jimmy Walker, Jason Davies and John Parker, Jay Miron and Dave Osato, and Dave Mirra and Dennis McCoy. Dave Voelker and Jamie Bestwick were supposed to be competing together, but for some reason neither turned up. Nobody was taking this event too seriously with it only being a demonstration sport, and prize money to last place helped immensely. This made for a very relaxed and fun event. Everybody had had since Virginia Beach to practice and Davies and Parker treated themselves to a day's practice at the GT ramp up in LA - it seems that $10.000 can do strange things to a guy. Simon and Jimmy hooked up the day before and had something like three hours to get something resembling a doubles run together. Whilst nobody but the riders knew what to expect, I had a fairly good idea when I want for a drink and found Kevin Robinson and Pat Miller choreographing a fight...
First up was Sigaty and Ramsdell, sporting matching mullets and combat gear. The highlight of their run was Leigh footplanting Rob's toptube Ron-Wilkerson-style, only for Rob's bike to fall over taking Leigh with it to flat bottom. Josh Heino dropped in on Ryan Nyquist's pegs which went great, until they ghostied the bike off the opposite transition into the camera crew. Pat Miller and Kevin Robinson's first run was really good, but the second one fail apart after a few seconds, causing a huge - previously planned - fight on the flat bottom, the crowd went wild. Simon and Jimmy ended up looking fairly polished, despite lack of practice, with a bunch of synchro stuff, an air over flip fakie, and a perfect 540 over 540 that was almost too close for comfort. Rick Thorne and Kevin Gutierrez were pretty dialled with some nifty deck tricks and big synchro airs. Parker and Davies' extra practice paid off giving them more stuff on top of the good old GT USA Air Show routine, this was one run that Woody didn't have a say in. Their hard work and overtime put them in third place with a nice fat cheque for $1,750 each. Jay Miron and Dave Osato's run was so together, it was like watching a mirror image, same style, same tricks. The highlight of their run was Miron nosepicking Osato's front wheel ('Canadian Nosepick'?). This great run had them in second with $3,000 each. Dave Mirra and Dennis McCoy wound up in first place with five grand each. A truly deserved prize. They had by far the best runs, with stuff like Dave's tailwhip over DMC's peg grind, lines that crossed all over the ramp, and a huge doubles flair finish. They put a lot more thought into it than anyone else and the fact that they weren't synchronised worked in their favour.
DOUBLES VERT RESULTS: 1.Mirra/DMC 2.Osato/Miron 3.Parker/Davies 4.Heino/Nyquist 5.Gutierrez/Thorne 6.Tabron/Walker 7.Robinson/Miller 8.Ramsdell/Sigaty
Dave Mirra tailtapping DMC's back.